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About COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against COVID-19.

Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine

You may be able to get different doses of the COVID-19 vaccine depending on your age and if you're at increased risk from COVID-19.

This can include getting:

Which COVID-19 vaccine will I get?

There are several different COVID-19 vaccines in use in the UK. They have all met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

Most people can have any of the COVID-19 vaccines and will be offered 1 that gives protection from multiple types of COVID-19.

You cannot usually choose which vaccine you have.

Some people are only offered certain vaccines, for example:

  • if you're pregnant
  • if you're under 18 years
  • if you're aged 75 or over and getting a seasonal booster dose
  • in very rare cases if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to 1 of the common vaccines you may be referred to a specialist clinic for an alternative COVID-19 vaccine

Children under 12 years will be given smaller doses than older children and adults.

How well do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). COVID-19 is usually mild in most children, but it can make some children unwell.

The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others. Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19
  • protect against different strains (variants) of COVID-19

A 1st dose should give some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after having it. A 2nd dose gives stronger and longer-lasting protection.

If you're at increased risk, a booster dose helps boost your antibodies and give you good protection from becoming seriously ill or needing to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19.

There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it's important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines can cause some side effects, but not everyone gets them.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccine side effects and safety

More information about the COVID-19 vaccines

The Sanofi and GSK (VidPrevtyn Beta) COVID-19 vaccine contains an oil derived from sharks. This vaccine is being offered as the seasonal booster dose to those aged 75 and over.

The other COVID-19 vaccines offered by the NHS do not contain animal products, including egg.

Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the UK, including their ingredients:

Read the guide to the use of human and animal products in vaccine on GOV.UK

Vaccination information for other parts of the UK

Page last reviewed: 21 March 2023
Next review due: 21 March 2026