COVID-19 vaccine: what you need to know

What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccination programme, including how you will know when it's your turn, where to go, and why it's important.

Changes announced 19 January

27 January

You will not be required to wear a face covering, including in communal areas of schools, but the government suggests you continue to wear one in crowded and indoor spaces where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

You’ll no longer need to show your NHS COVID Pass at venues and events by law.

20 January

Staff and pupils in secondary schools and colleges will not be required to wear a face covering in classrooms.

19 January

You are no longer asked to work from home if you can. Talk to your employer to agree arrangements to return to your workplace.

Click here to read the full details

To check the latest Government guidance please visit

To check the latest advice in Sussex visit the Sussex COVID-19 vaccination programme webpage.

Please get your vaccination

It's never too late  to get vaccinated - if you, or anyone you know, hasn’t started to get vaccinated yet, please don’t put it off any longer.  Rates of COVID-19 infections in our city remain high and, we still have high numbers of unvaccinated adults in our community. Omicron is placing additional strain on the NHS. With COVID still circulating it’s important that everyone takes up the vaccine offer. The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you getting the COVID-19 disease and lower the likelihood of you passing it onto others. The latest estimates suggest that 105,900 deaths and 24,088,000 infections have been prevented as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, up to 20 August.

We all have an important part to play to help the NHS deliver their vaccine delivery plan:

  • When you are contacted, please book and attend your appointment(s);
  • Turn up to your appointment on time, do not arrive early or late as the vaccination centres cannot accommodate you.

It is essential that everyone continues to follow key COVID-19 precautions, whether they have had the vaccine or not. These include testing when you have symptoms and isolating when you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Additionally, you must currently wear a face covering by law, unless you are exempt, in indoor settings (although note that the rules will change from 27 January). Find out all areas where a mask is required on the government website.

For the latest information about the vaccine go to the NHS website.

Information for people who have been recently vaccinated

It may take around two to three weeks for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine. Although you should get good protection from the first dose, having the second dose should give you longer lasting protection against the virus. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe. The vaccine cannot give you the COVID-19 infection, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. A booster dose will raise protection levels against the virus.

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 vaccine

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

In summary:

  • 1st doses – everyone aged 12 and above.
  • 2nd doses – everyone aged 12 and above.
    • 12-17 at 12 weeks from 1st vaccine
    • 18 and over at 8 weeks from 1st vaccine
  • 3rd and 4th doses
    • These types of vaccination are not the same as boosters and are available for those who are immunosuppressed.
  • Booster vaccines 
    • for everyone aged 18 and above
    • for people aged 12 and over who have a health condition that puts them at high risk from COVID-19; for frontline health or social care workers; for unpaid carers, and for those living with someone who is immunosuppressed.
    • You can have it at 3 months from your 2nd vaccine.
    • However, if you are eligible you can now pre-book a booster dose from 2 months (61 days) after their 2nd dose.

Click here for details of bookable appointments across Sussex

Click here for more details of walk in vaccinations

If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, or are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can use textphone 18001 119 or the NHS 119 BSL interpreter service.

If you are aged 18 and over

You can get a 1st and 2nd dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

2nd doses are available 8 weeks after your 1st.

Booster vaccinations are available once it has been 3 months since your 2nd dose, but you can plan ahead by booking your booster appointment online once if has been 2 months since your 2nd dose. 

All those aged 18 or over can book their vaccination through the NHS booking service. You can also call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

You can also find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site across Sussex to get vaccinated without needing an appointment. Or you can wait to be contacted by your GP and book your appointment with them.

If you are aged 16 - 17

You can get a 1st and 2nd dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

2nd doses are available 12 weeks after your 1st dose.

You can access a booster vaccine 12 weeks after your 2nd dose only if you have a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19, are immunosuppressed, are a frontline health and social care worker, are an unpaid carer or living with someone who is immunosuppressed.

All those aged 16 or over can book their vaccination through the NHS booking service. You can also call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

You can also find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site across Sussex to get vaccinated without needing an appointment. Or you can wait to be contacted by your GP and book your appointment with them.

Children and younger people aged 12 to 15

Children can get a first and second dose of the vaccine from the day they turn 12. Second doses will be offered in schools from 10 January 2022. Children can get a second dose 12 weeks after their first dose.

Boosters are available for those who are immunosuppressed, have a condition which outs them at higher risk from COVID, or are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed. Boosters are available 12 weeks after a second dose.

You can get your vaccine at school, you can book a vaccination appointment online or you can find a walk in vaccination site to get a vaccine without needing an appointment. 

Children will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

If you receive home schooling, are in secure services, or specialist mental health settings, then provision will be put in place to ensure you are still offered one dose of the vaccine.

Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought before vaccinations are given in line with existing school vaccination programme policies.

Click here for more information about vaccinations for 12-17 year olds

Helpful materials for school aged children and their parents/guardians

Text line for 12 to 15 year olds

A Textline for healthy 12-15 year olds wishing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine – or those wanting to find out more about it, has been launched. This will give access to expert advice from registered healthcare professionals; and this will include providing information to them on consent issues and process. The service can be accessed by texting 07312277727.

This is a service for 12-15 year olds only. Parents, carers and guardians can contact: 0800 433 4545 (open 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday) or email:    

Watch a video explaining how 12-15 year olds can get their vaccine.

Find out how many people have had the COVID-19 vaccine

The NHS publishes a weekly report on vaccination numbers. To find out the latest numbers click the button below.

Find out more

How long between my first and second dose of the vaccine?

You will usually receive your second dose up to 8-12 weeks after the first, regardless of the vaccine type. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.

How do I book my second dose of the vaccine?

You'll need to book a 2nd dose for 8 to 12 weeks after your 1st dose.

Will I be offered a third or fourth dose?

People with a weakened immune system are being offered a 3rd dose of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. This is also known as a 3rd primary dose.

If you had a weakened immune system when you had your first 2 doses, the vaccine may not have given you as much protection as it can for people who do not have a weakened immune system.

A 3rd dose may help give you better protection.

The 3rd vaccine dose for people with a weakened immune system is different to a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.

A 3rd dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to people aged 12 and over who had a weakened immune system when they had their first 2 doses.

You'll usually be offered a 3rd dose at least 8 weeks after you had your 2nd dose.

This includes people who had or have:

  • a blood cancer (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
  • a weakened immune system due to a treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
  • an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • a condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections
  • a condition or treatment your specialist advises makes you eligible for a 3rd dose

Fourth dose

If you have a weakened immune system and have had a 3rd dose of the vaccine, you can get a booster (4th) dose from 3 months after your 3rd dose.

Your GP or hospital specialist will invite you for your booster dose when it's due.

If you have a letter from your GP or hospital specialist inviting you for your 3rd dose, you can get your booster at a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site. You'll need to bring your letter with you.

Read more about the 3rd dose and see the attached document. You can also visit the NHS website where there is information about 4th doses.

Will I be offered a booster shot?

To maintain high levels of protection throughout the winter months, the Government is offering a booster vaccine to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

People aged 18 years and over, and those aged 12 years and over who are at risk (including health and social care workers) will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine. You can book online or call 119 to make an appointment to have your booster.

How and when to get your COVID-19 booster vaccine?

You will be offered the booster 8-12 weeks after your second dose.

Most people will be invited to book an appointment at a larger vaccination centre, pharmacy, or local NHS service such as a GP surgery.

Your GP practice will contact you when you are eligible for your booster shot. Please do not contact them first.

Find out more about booster vaccinations

Which COVID-19 vaccine will I get?

Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine. This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your 1st and 2nd doses.

Some people may be offered a booster dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

I'm pregnant, can I still get the vaccine?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group. There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of COVID-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy. 

It is preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.

Women who are planning pregnancy, are in the immediate postpartum or are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine, depending on their age and clinical risk group. To find out more visit our maternity support advice and information page.

Protect yourself from fraud

In England, the COVID-19 vaccines will only be available via the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine.

Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.  

Find out more and report fraud

Do I have to have the COVID-19 vaccine even though I've already had COVID-19?

An effective vaccine is the best way to protect people from COVID-19, reduce hospitalisations and save lives. Vaccines are the only way to eradicate disease. 

People that have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated. It is still just as important for those who have already had COVID-19 as it is for those who haven’t.  

Is the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory?

There are no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory for the general population. Following consultation earlier this year, from 11 November 2021 people who work in care homes – both staff and volunteers – will need to be fully vaccinated. There are some exemptions and the requirement to be fully vaccinated will not extend to people who are visiting friends and families.

Do I need to self-isolate if I'm fully vaccinated?

It's a legal requirement to self-isolate if you are told to by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not self-isolate.

Read the latest guidance to find out when you should self-isolate. In certain cases you may not need to.

How do I prove my vaccine status?

An NHS COVID Pass shows your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination details or test results. This is your COVID-19 status. You may be asked to show your pass to get into some venues and large events as well as into a night club, or to travel abroad.

A digital COVID pass is available through the NHS App or the NHS website. A paper version is also available online.

The NHS App and/or the NHS COVID pass doesn't accurately reflect my vaccination record, what do I do? 

The Vaccination Data Resolution Service aims to resolve missing or incorrect vaccination records for people vaccinated in England, Scotland or Wales who have a current NHS number and are registered with a GP practice in England. If you believe you have missing or incorrect COVID-19 vaccination data, please call 119 and ask the call agent to make a referral to the VDRS team on your behalf. The VDRS team will then aim to call you back within 21 days. 

If you aren't registered with a GP, you will need to contact your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for assistance. You can find the CCG that covers the area where you live through this CCG list.

What does a vaccine do?

Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from diseases. It's much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once a vaccine has trained your immune system to know how to fight a disease, it can often protect you for many years. 

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are now safer than ever before. Any vaccine must first go through the usual rigorous testing and development process and be shown to strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness before it can be deployed.

How do I feedback or complain about the NHS COVID-19 vaccine service?

If you are unhappy with the service you have received, it is important to let the NHS know. To provide feedback, raise a concern or make a complaint, please email

Side effects

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them.

You should not have the vaccine if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction to:

  • any of the ingredients in the vaccine
  • a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine

Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

Did you have side effects from the vaccine?

To help the MHRA collect and monitor information in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine, you can report your symptoms.

Report symptoms

Got a question?

If you have more questions about the COVID-19 vaccination programme you can find more information on the NHS website or contact your local Healthwatch.

NHS website

Contact Healthwatch Brighton and Hove

Contact the team leading the roll out across Sussex

  • If you have a question about the Sussex COVID-19 vaccination programme please take a look at the Sussex Health and Care Partnership’s  frequently asked questions webpage. If you can’t find the answer you are seeking, please the Vaccine Enquiry helpline using the details below.
  • You can email the Vaccine Enquiry helpline at, or call the enquiry phone line on 0800 433 4545 (open 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday). 

Please remember that these services cannot book a vaccination on your behalf and are for queries only.

Free transport to get your COVID-19 vaccination

You can get help traveling to and from a vaccination service near you. To book free travel to a vaccination session please book your vaccination appointment or have confirmed plans to attend a walk-in session first. Then call 01444 275008 to speak to a travel coordinator. The booking service is available between 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm Monday-Friday.

For those who need to drive to Churchill Square, free parking for one hour in Churchill Square’s Orange Car Park is available for people attending the new site for their jabs over the coming weeks and months.

NHS Volunteer Responders may also be able to support you in traveling to your appointment. Please call 0808 196 3646 8am to 8pm 7 days a week. There could be up to 15/20min wait for the call to be answered due to demand.

There are other community transport providers offering support. You can find information about community and non-emergency transport on the Brighton and Hove City Council website.


More information about the Sussex programme

Much more information about the vaccination programme is available on the Sussex Health Care Partnership website, including details of the services available in each arealatest datastakeholder briefings, answers to frequently asked questions and links to all the national leaflets and materials.

Thank you for your support in helping to keep our local communities updated and informed about this fast-moving and unprecedented vaccination programme.

Find more information about the Sussex COVID-19 vaccination programme

What Healthwatch Brighton and Hove is doing

We are working with the local NHS and other services to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination programme across the city and Sussex. This includes helping them to clearly communicate what is happening to local people and making them aware of any questions or issues that arise. Please send us any questions that you may have and we will seek to help answer them

Useful resources

Access to language support at vaccination centres and services.

If you do not speak English as your first language, interpreting support is available at all of our vaccination sites and can be easily arranged to support you during your appointment.
Face to face interpreting is available and can be requested from local organisations including Vandu and Sussex Interpreting Services.
They can be contacted using the details below:

Telephone interpreting is also available on site at all services.
If you are d/Deaf, face to face British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting is also available by self-referral from Action Deafness and a video relay service using Signlive is available at all GP led local vaccination services, pharmacy led services and the vaccination centres.

Translated materials

GujaratiPunjabiSylhetiTamil and Urdu. You can also find out more information about the vaccine rollout in the five South Asian languages here

Click here to access translated materials about the vaccine

For British Sign Language Resources

Easy-read resources

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