A guide to the spring 2024 COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Updated 12 April 2024

Applies to England

People aged 75 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, and those aged 6 months and over with a weakened immune system will be offered a dose of COVID-19 vaccine this spring.

Spring 2024 booster eligibility

COVID-19 is more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions. For these reasons, people aged 75 years and over, those in care homes, and those aged 6 months and over with a weakened immune system are being offered a spring dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Timing of the spring booster

You should be offered an appointment between April and June, with those at highest risk being called in first. You will be invited to have your booster around 6 months after your last dose, but you can have it as soon as 3 months.

If you are turning 75 years of age between April and June, you do not have to wait until your birthday, you can attend when you are called for vaccination.

You will be invited for your booster, your GP may offer you the vaccine or you can book using the NHS app for Apple or Android. You can also find your nearest walk-in vaccination site from the NHS website.

Vaccines in use this spring

You will be given a booster dose of a vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna and approved in the UK. These vaccines have been updated since the original vaccines and target a different COVID-19 variant. These updated vaccines boost protection well, and give slightly higher levels of antibody against the more recent strains of COVID-19 (Omicron).

As we cannot predict which variants of COVID-19 will be circulating this spring and summer, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have concluded that the vaccine used in the later weeks of the autumn 2023 programme should be used.

Please accept the vaccination that is offered to you as soon as you are able to – you will be offered the right vaccine for you at the right time.

Who cannot take up the offer of a spring booster

There are very few eligible people who should not have a dose this spring. If you have had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine you should discuss this with your doctor.

Side effects

Common side effects

As with your previous dose, the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines, including the updated vaccines being used this spring and include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection – this tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • general aches or mild flu-like symptoms

You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help you feel better.

Side effects following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111 or for text/phone use 18001 111.

You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme.

Serious side effects

Cases of inflammation of the heart (called myocarditis or pericarditis) have been reported very rarely after both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. These cases have been seen mostly in younger men and within several days of vaccination. Most of the people affected have felt better and recovered quickly following rest and simple treatments.

You should seek medical advice urgently if, after vaccination, you experience:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart

If you had a serious side effect after a previous dose you may be advised to avoid or delay further vaccination. You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist.

Reporting side effects

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card Scheme:

  • online at Yellow Card Scheme
  • by downloading and using the Yellow Card app on Apple or Android
  • by calling the Yellow Card scheme on 0800 731 6789 (9am to 5pm)

If you are unwell on the day of your appointment

If you are unwell, wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine. You should not attend an appointment if you have a fever or think you might be infectious to others.

You may still catch COVID-19 after having the vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine will reduce the chance of you becoming severely unwell from COVID-19 this spring and summer. It may take a few days for your body to build up some extra protection from the dose. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but any infection should be less severe.

If you have not had all your vaccinations

If you have not yet had either of your first 2 doses of the vaccine (or a third dose for those with a weakened immune system) you should have a dose during the seasonal campaign.

If you are eligible and you have missed an earlier booster, you should have a dose this spring to catch up. Most people do not need extra doses to make up for those you have missed.

If you have a severely weakened immune system your doctor may advise an extra dose 3 months after you have the spring vaccine.

Waiting after you have your vaccine

If you have a history of allergies, or if you had a reaction immediately after a previous dose, you may be advised to stay for 15 minutes after the vaccine. Please make sure you tell the vaccinator.

Further information

You can read the COVID-19 guides below for more information:

Order or download print copies

Paper copies of this leaflet in English are available free to order or download. Translated translated versions are available to download.

Alternative and accessible formats of this leaflet will soon be available to order.