Information on COVID-19 vaccination for front line health and care staff

This page is for all staff who work in health and care organisations in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) to find out more about the COVID-19 Booster Programme.  It complements our Frequently Asked Questions page with information of particular use to those who work across our health sector. For example you might work in a care home, hospital trust or you may be a social work practitioner.

All frontline health and care workers have now been offered a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and the Vaccination Programme is now providing booster doses for frontline staff.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said that for the 2021 COVID-19 vaccination programme, the following people should be offered a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the same order as the first part of the vaccination programme.

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 50 years or over
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
  • adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

Within these groups frontline health and social care staff are a priority due to the higher risk to them and the people for whom they provide care. To be eligible for a booster, the second dose of your initial vaccine course must have been at least six months (180 days) ago.

What is the COVID-19 Booster Programme?

The COVID-19 booster programme is the rollout of an additional vaccine dose to people who have previously received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to ensure continued protection for those most at risk from COVID-19.

Why is the Booster Programme needed?

We want to provide the people that are most likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and those who care for them with the best possible protection for this winter. The JCVI has reviewed available data and provided advice that COVID-19 boosters are first offered to the most vulnerable in order to provide maximum protection during the winter months.

It is important to note that everyone who has had 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will have good protection from coronavirus; however, due to the higher exposure that frontline health and care staff may have to coronavirus, the aim is to ensure they have as much protection as possible against COVID-19 this winter.

The flu vaccination programme is now also running which protects people from serious complications from getting flu, so we would also encourage people that are eligible for a COVID-19 booster to also get their flu vaccination. More information on the flu vaccination is at www.nhs.uk/flujab

What is the definition of frontline health and social care workers?

For the purposes of the COVID-19 Booster Programme, frontline staff are defined as frontline health and social care staff whose second dose was over 6 months ago and whose role involves either providing direct care, or having direct contact with people receiving care.

How do I book my COVID-19 booster?

There are a number of ways you may be offered, and can book, your COVID-19 booster vaccination:

  • If you work in a Hospital Trust, Hospital Vaccination Hubs are reopening to provide COVID-19 boosters to frontline staff. Initially, booster invitations will be prioritised for frontline staff according to peoples’ level of risk due to personal characteristics, risk due to area of work and length of gap between their initial first and second dose with people who had a 3 week gap given priority.
  • All frontline health and social care staff can book a COVID-19 booster using the National Booking Service or calling 119, where you can self-declare that you are a frontline worker.
  • You may also be contacted by your GP and offered an appointment for a COVID-19 Booster.

I’m not sure if I qualify for a booster.

COVID-19 boosters are being offered to frontline health and social care staff whose second dose was over 6 months ago and whose role involves either providing direct care, or having direct contact with people receiving care.

Your organisation can confirm if you are eligible for the booster.

Will all health and social care staff be offered the COVID-19 booster, or just frontline staff?

At the moment, we have only been asked to offer a COVID-19 booster to frontline health and care staff.

Can I have my COVID-19 booster sooner than 6 months after my second dose of COVID-19 vaccine?

No. If you are in one of the groups eligible for a booster, it is important that you wait at least 6 months after your second dose as we know that the booster is more effective with at least a 6 month gap. It’s important to note that if you have had 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you will still have good protection from coronavirus; the purpose of the Booster Programme is to enhance protection for those who are at greatest risk this winter.

Will the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccine be given at the same time?

The COVID-19 booster and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and for people that are eligible for both, there may be opportunities to have both together. We would encourage you to get your vaccinations as soon as possible and get fully protected rather than waiting as it may not always be possible to get them together.

How do I book my flu vaccine?

Your employer will confirm the arrangements for booking your flu vaccine as they will vary depending on who you work for. If you are offered the flu or COVID-19 booster vaccine, separately or together, please take up the offer as it is vital that staff do not delay having either vaccination.

Is the COVID-19 Booster mandatory for frontline health and care staff?

It is not mandatory to have a COVID-19 booster. However, many frontline staff are at higher risk of COVID-19 due to their role and we recommend that you have the booster if you are eligible to ensure maximum protection. This should be at least 6 months after your second dose.

What vaccine type is being used for the Booster Programme? What if it’s different to the one I have had?

After reviewing data on booster responses from different combinations of COVID-19 vaccines, the JCVI advises a preference for the Pfizer (now called Comirnaty) vaccine to be offered as the booster dose, irrespective of which type of vaccine was used in the primary schedule. There is good evidence that the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine is well tolerated as a booster dose and will provide a strong booster response.

Alternatively, individuals may be offered a half dose of the Moderna (now called SpikeVax) vaccine, which should also be well tolerated and is also likely to provide a strong booster response. A half dose of Moderna (SpikeVax) vaccine is advised over a full dose due to the levels of side effects seen following boosting with a full dose in clinical trials.

Where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered, for example, due to possible allergies, vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received AstraZeneca vaccine in their primary course. More detail is available in the Government guide to the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, known as the green book.

Can I have the booster if I haven’t completed the first vaccination course?

No, any additional dose you have will be counted as your 2nd dose, regardless of when you had your first dose.

Can I have my first or second COVID-19 vaccine at a Hospital Hub?

The Hospital Hubs have been reopened in order to provide COVID-19 boosters and flu vaccines. If you have not had your first or second COVID-19 vaccination, you can book an appointment on the National Booking Service or call 119. You can also attend any of the walk-in clinics in our area without making an appointment. Please visit www.grabajab.net for a full list of walk-in clinics and a link to the National Booking Service.

Is it compulsory for all frontline health and care staff to have the COVID-19 vaccination?

In order to protect yourself and the people you care for from the possibility of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, having 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for all care home staff in England, unless they are exempt due to a specific medical condition, from 16 November 2021. This means that the deadline for care home staff to have their first vaccination has now passed (16 September 2021). Your employer is likely to have spoken with you about this.

If you are a care worker and initially didn’t want to have the COVID-19 vaccine, but have now changed your mind, please speak with your line manager as soon as possible.

The vaccine is not compulsory for other health staff. However, it is strongly recommended that all front line health and care workers who can receive a vaccine choose to do so.

This document provides information for health and care staff about vaccinations and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I have the booster vaccine if I am pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant?

Yes. If you are pregnant you are eligible to receive a booster, no earlier than six months after completion of the first course of vaccination.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended in pregnancy. Studies have shown that hospital admission and severe illness from COVID-19 are more common in pregnant women (compared to those not pregnant), especially those in the third trimester of pregnancy, and that stillbirth and preterm birth is more likely (compared to pregnant women without COVID-19).

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding, please visit the ‘Pregnancy’ section on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists has published information for healthcare professionals and pregnant women eligible for vaccination, including a leaflet about having the vaccine during pregnancy.

I haven’t yet had the COVID-19 vaccination, can I still get my first jabs?

If you have not taken up the offer, it isn’t too late; everyone aged 18 and over can have their initial COVID-19 vaccination, even after the Booster Programme begins.

You can book an appointment using the National Booking Service or by calling 119. Alternatively, you can attend any of our walk-in clinics without making an appointment – a full list can be found at www.grabajab.net.

This information link is aimed at frontline staff and provides information about vaccinations and the COVID-19 vaccine, in particular.

If you have a query which is not answered here or on the Frequently Asked Questions page, please speak with your line manager, trusted colleagues, or send us an email, clearly stating your name, role, and organisation.

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