By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

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Image source, Getty Images

The health secretary has said that full Covid vaccination is likely to be made mandatory for NHS workers.

An estimated 86% of people aged 12 and over in the UK have now had at least one dose, and a booster campaign is underway for the most vulnerable.

What has the health secretary said?

Sajid Javid told the BBC that he was “minded to” introduce compulsory vaccination for NHS workers, although ministers have “yet to make the final decision”.

“It’s not only right for someone working in the NHS because naturally they’re more likely to come into contact with Covid… but also for those they’re caring for”, he said.

How many people have now been vaccinated?

Across the UK, boosters are being offered to:

  • Over-50s
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Older adults in residential care homes
  • People aged 16-49 years old with underlying health conditions which put them at greater risk of severe Covid
  • Adults sharing a home with vulnerable people

The dose must be given at least six months after a second vaccination. Usually it will be Pfizer or Moderna.

Which children are being vaccinated?

The rollout is underway in England, Scotland and Wales, and will start shortly in Northern Ireland.

Most doses are being given in school, but children in England will soon be able to visit vaccination centres.

There is no vaccine currently approved for under-12s in the UK.

Image source, Getty Images

How can I book my vaccine?

In England, adults and those within three months of turning 18 can book first or second jabs online, by calling 119, or visiting a walk-in clinic. Sixteen and 17-year-olds should contact their GP.

Parents of children aged 12-15-year-olds will soon get a letter about appointments at vaccination centres. Children will also have to consent on the day.

Frontline health or social care workers can book their booster jab online, but other groups should wait to be contacted by the NHS. If more than six months has passed since their second dose they can call 119.

In Northern Ireland, you can book online or call 0300 200 7813. Walk-in centres are open to older teenagers. People entitled to a third dose will be contacted.

Which vaccine will I get?

Under-18s are currently being offered Pfizer, although the Moderna vaccine has also been authorised for use in children.

Why are infections still so high?

This is because the vaccines are designed to protect people from becoming serious ill or dying from Covid.

They’re less effective at stopping people catching Covid or passing it on.

What else will vaccination allow me to do?

Full vaccination makes international travel far simpler and cheaper.

If you’re travelling to England (or Wales from 31 October) you only have to take a lateral flow test two days after arriving, rather than a more expensive PCR test.

What about side effects?

The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.

They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.

Media caption, Why it is normal for some people to experience short-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccines

Separately, a very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

You should discuss any existing serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.

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