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Second dose information

Posted in Our priorities

Updated: 25th May 2021

If you’ve had your first vaccine dose already, you may have had your second dose appointment booked, if not, the NHS will contact you when it’s time for your second dose. If you are not contacted, please call the booking line that organised your first appointment.  Please make sure you attend your second appointment. The first dose of the vaccine offers good levels of protection, but to get maximum protection everyone will need to get a second dose.

Always take your ID and the card you were given when you received your first vaccine. This details which vaccine you received so that vaccinators can be sure you are receiving the correct second dose.

How will I be invited for the second dose of my vaccination?

The COVID-19 vaccination is given as two doses.

If you are aged 49 or under you will have the second dose 11 to 12 weeks after having the first dose.

If you are aged 50 or over (or from a higher risk group) your second dose appointment may be brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks. The NHS will contact you by text, letter or email if your appointment needs to be moved, there is no need to contact the NHS or your GP.

If you have had your first dose and have not yet been offered an appointment for your second dose, you will be contacted with an appointment for your second vaccination in due course. You will be contacted by the team you received your first dose of the vaccine from.

If you have chosen to be vaccinated in one of the vaccination centres, you will have booked both the first and second vaccinations at the same time when you book online or via 119.

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.

People who had their first dose through a GP service should be invited for their second dose through the same GP service.

People who had their first dose at a Hospital Hub site should 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 practicing 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 show up for 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.

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.’