Scotland's Covid booster vaccine plan explained - who's eligible and when will it start
Millions of people are eligible for a third dose of the jab which will help stamp out a spike in cases this winter.
All over-50s, NHS and care staff and younger people with underlying health conditions can get a booster dose.
In a statement to parliament, the First Minister announced the booster roll-out will begin from Monday, September 20.
She said the Covid booster jab is a "very significance and very welcome extension of vaccine programme.”
So who will get boosters, when, and why? Here’s everything you need to know.
Who will receive a Covid booster vaccine in Scotland?
- Residents in elderly care homes
- Residential care workers
- All over-50s
- Frontline health and social care workers
16 to 49 with underlying health conditions
Unpaid and young carers
Adult household contacts of people who are immunosuppressed
Who will get the booster jab first?
Nicola Sturgeon outlined who will get the booster jab first, with more details set to follow:
Frontline health workers - book online through NHS inform from Monday, September 20
Residents and staff in care homes - can also get booster alongside flu jab from next week flu
Adults aged 70 over and 16 or over on highest risk list - contacted shortly by letter or GP
Adults over 50, all those aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions, adult carers, unpaid and young carers, and adult household contacts of people who are immunosuppressed - book online from October
Who will not receive a Covid booster vaccine?
The vaccine boosters will not go to healthy under-50s.
Not only do healthy younger people get less sick from Covid - they also have a stronger immune response to the jab itself, the JCVI said.
However, the JCVI will still look at whether healthy under-50s should get a booster, at a later date, and are expected to publish advice when more data is available.
There is also a change since the JCVI’s interim advice in June. Back then, the JCVI said all over-16s who would normally be offered a flu jab could get a booster - even if they weren’t in priority groups the first time round.
This recommendation has now been removed from the final advice. However, it’s thought the vast majority of people who’d be offered a flu jab are in existing Covid priority groups anyway.
When will I get my booster vaccine?
The Scottish Government has accepted the JCVI’s advice and boosters will start rolling out next week.
Reports suggest the government is aiming to provide the entire booster programme and wrap it up by Christmas.
You’ll become eligible for your third “booster” dose exactly six months after you had your second dose.
So if your second dose was on April 17, your third dose can be given from October 17 onwards.
You should come forward promptly after this deadline passes if you can. JCVI Covid-19 chair Prof Wei Shen Lim said: "Try to find a sweet spot between going too soon and too late".
Will I get a flu vaccine at the same time?
Yes, where that is possible.
The JCVI and MHRA agreed it was safe for people to receive flu and Covid vaccines at the same time, and it eases the strain on NHS logistics.
The Scottish Government will administer the booster shots to care homes residents alongside the flu vaccine.
People are likely to get one jab in each arm where this happens.
Officials are worried about a vast winter wave of flu, given immunity is lacking after last year’s lockdowns suppressed the disease.
What brand of vaccine will I get?
The JCVI has recommended that everyone getting a booster receives Pfizer wherever possible - regardless of what their first two doses were.
So whether you had Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca - you’ll get a full dose of Pfizer for your third dose where possible.
Moderna can be used for a booster, and where this happens, it will be given in a half dose on scientific advice that it still works very well.
Pfizer is one of the more in-demand brands of vaccine around the world.
However, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted there is enough supplies of this vaccine in Scotland.
AstraZeneca is not being recommended for a booster because scientists have decided mRNA technology - used in Pfizer and Moderna’s jabs - is preferable for the booster campaign.
They based this on research including the COV-Boost vaccine trial, which studied the use of seven different jabs.
Those who have an allergy to an mRNA vaccine can still get AstraZeneca as their booster, though.
Will there be a booster programme every six months now?
Not necessarily, no.
JCVI Covid-19 chair Prof Wei Shen Lim said: "This advice does not imply there will be a recurrent booster programme every six months."
He stressed it’s to protect the public while we’re in a Covid surge nationally, and further advice on what to do will be issued later when we're in "steady state" with lower background cases.
What if I’ve not had the jab at all yet?
Government advisors stress that people who’ve not yet been vaccinated at all are the absolute priority.
If you’ve not had your first dose, it is not too late - come forward and the NHS will be able to give you a two-dose course of the vaccine.
Is this separate to children’s jabs?
All UK children aged 12 and over are the set be offered one dose of the Covid vaccine after advisors gave it the green light.
The UK's four Chief Medical Officers recommended a "universal" rollout of the Pfizer jab to children aged 12 to 15 - after judging it will help prevent schools chaos over winter.
The Scottish Government confirmed the roll-out for 12 to 15-year-olds will begin soon.