Second dose appointments - Frequently asked questions
How will I be invited for the second dose of my vaccination?
The COVID-19 vaccination is given as two doses for people over the age of 17 and 9 months and this is at 8 weeks after the first dose. It’s national guidance that people receive their second dose at least 8 weeks after their first dose as this lengthens their immunity and unfortunately we aren’t able to give a second dose before 8 weeks.
If you have booked your first appointment online or by calling 119, you will normally book your 2nd appointment at the same time as your first. If you have booked an appointment directly with your local GP vaccination service, you will usually organise your 2nd appointment with them as well.
If you’ve attended a walk-in clinic for your first dose, you can also attend a walk-in clinic for your second dose. You can find the locations and opening times here: COVID-19 Vaccination Walk-in and Pop-up Clinics (stwics.org.uk)
Can I have my second dose in a different place?
People using the National Booking Service (booking into a vaccination centre, GP-led or community pharmacy site) are given their closest available appointment locations. Most people will have their second dose at the same location they had their first dose but you can book your second dose at a different location to your first via the national booking system online or by calling 119. There are also lots of walk-in sites now available around the country where you can attend without booking an appointment.
People who had their first dose through a GP service will usually invited for their second dose through the same GP service.
People who had their first dose at a Hospital Hub site will usually be invited or be able to book their second dose at the same location.
There are other circumstances in which it may be appropriate for a patient to receive their second dose in a different location to their first dose, for example, discharged outpatients, students, doctors in training on rotation to hospitals, people who have become housebound or moved into a care home since their first dose, or patients who have moved to a new house to somewhere a long way away from where they had their first dose.
How effective is the first vaccine injection without getting the second one?
It is important to have both doses of the vaccine to give you the best protection. While the first dose acts as an important immune response primer, the second dose is needed to boost your body’s immune response to the COVID-19 virus providing the best protection for you.
It is also important to note that immunity is not instant once you have received your vaccination. It will take a period of time for your body to produce the antibodies needed to produce an effective immune response to fight future COVID-19 infection. Therefore, it is important that even after you have had the COVID-19 vaccine you adhere to the current public health advice including social distancing and practising good hand and respiratory hygiene.
What happens if a person has the first jab but not the second?
Both Pfizer and the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines have been authorised on the basis of two doses because the evidence from the clinical trials shows that this gives the maximum level of protection. The evidence doesn’t show any risk to not having the second dose other than not being as protected as you otherwise would be. We would urge everyone to attend both of their appointments for their own protection as well as to ensure we don’t waste vaccines or the time of NHS staff.
If I had the Pfizer vaccine in the first jab, can I have the AstraZeneca vaccine for my second one?
Public Health England, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have all been very clear that in the absence of trial data to show it is safe and effective, doses should not be mixed. If you have a first dose of one vaccine, your second dose will be of that same vaccine too and that is what NHS organisations have been instructed to do. In certain exceptional circumstances, for example, an extremely bad reaction to the first dose, where the type of first dose is unknown or unavailable, different types of vaccine may be given (Public Health England’s Green Book.)
What happens if I don’t go for my second appointment?
The first dose of both COVID-19 vaccines will provide short term protection. It is important to get the second dose to provide fuller, longer term protection against COVID-19.
What is the second dose guidance for pregnant women?
PHE’s Green Book advises that ‘Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age, because of more extensive experience of their use in pregnancy. Pregnant women who commenced vaccination with AstraZeneca, however, are advised to complete with the same vaccine’. ‘If a woman finds out she is pregnant after she has started a course of vaccine, she may complete vaccination during pregnancy using the same vaccine product (unless contra-indicated). Alternatively, vaccination should be offered as soon as possible after pregnancy.’
The team at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals have developed 10 videos in different languages presented by medics explaining the importance of second dose vaccinations. They are available to view by language here: