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The UK began its Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in December 2020. The vaccination programme progressed in two main phases, with prioritisation primarily based on age. During Phase 1, those aged 50 years and over, frontline health and social care workers and individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions (which put them at a higher risk of serious disease and mortality), were prioritised. During Phase 2, the age-based approach continued, starting with those aged 40-49 and ending with the 18-29 age group. First doses of Covid-19 vaccine have also been offered to those aged 12-17 years. To date, the three Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorised by the UK medicines regulator (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – MHRA) and rolled-out, have required two doses to complete the primary vaccine course.

As Phase 2 of the roll-out nears completion, attention has turned to whether the primary Covid-19 vaccine course requires any additional ‘booster dose’ namely the administration of third dose. Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the Government has agreed to offer booster doses to individuals who received vaccination in Phase 1 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme (priority groups 1-9), no earlier than 6 months after completion of their primary course. In November 2021, the JCVI updated its advice, stating that all adults aged 40-49 years should also be offered a Covid-19 booster vaccination, 6 months after their second dose.

Guidance from the NHS emphasises that “the NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have a booster dose. It’s important not to contact the NHS for one before then”.

Links to resources and guidance on the Covid-19 vaccine booster programme published by the UK Health Security Agency, the NHS and other health bodies are set out in Section 1 of the briefing. These sources and others have been used to address commonly asked questions about the Covid-19 booster vaccine programme. These will be updated as needed.

Details about the initial roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, including information on vaccine safety, can be found in the Commons Library briefing paper on Coronavirus: Covid-19 vaccine roll-out frequently asked questions. Parliamentary resources on Covid-19 vaccination from the House of Commons and House of Lords Library, and from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology can be accessed from the Vaccination and Covid-19 landing page.

The information in this briefing is not medical advice, or a substitute for medical advice. Individuals seeking advice on their own medical treatment should consult their GP or use the NHS 111 service (in England). For the latest official guidance on Coronavirus and the Covid-19 booster vaccination programme please consult the NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) booster vaccine and UK Health Security Agency Green Book guidance.

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