Expert advice

Your booster jab: timeline, eligibility and how to address colleagues’ hesitancy

COVID-19 vaccine booster programme starts, with front-line nurses at the top of the queue

What you need to know about when you the coronavirus vaccine booster programme and how it will affect nursing staff

Who is eligible to have the COVID-19 booster?

Boosters are being offered to people most vulnerable to serious infection ahead of the winter months, in line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

These include:

  • Front-line health and social care workers.
  • Older adults living in residential care homes.
  • Adults aged 50 or over.
  • All those aged 16-49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and adult carers.

What you need to know about when you the coronavirus vaccine booster programme and how it will affect nursing staff

Picture: Alamy

Who is eligible to have the COVID-19 booster?

Boosters are being offered to people most vulnerable to serious infection ahead of the winter months, in line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

These include:

  • Front-line health and social care workers.
  • Older adults living in residential care homes.
  • Adults aged 50 or over.
  • All those aged 16-49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and adult carers.
  • Adult household contacts of people who are immunosuppressed.

When will I be eligible to have the booster jab?

At least six months after your second dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Where are vaccinations taking place?

All UK governments have accepted the JCVI advice to offer booster vaccinations and programmes are rolling out across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Booster vaccinations are being delivered through hospital hubs, with GP surgery-led local vaccination services to follow.

Which vaccine will I be offered?

Probably the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, regardless of which vaccine you received for your first two doses,

Data show this vaccine provides a stronger booster response. Alternatively, a half dose of the Moderna vaccine may be offered.

If these are unsuitable – for example, because of allergies – the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who have had it before.

Will this affect the timing of my flu vaccination?

NHS England guidance on booster jabs states that the COVID-19 booster vaccine should be administered with the flu vaccine for front-line workers wherever possible.

Is the booster vaccine compulsory for care home staff?

From 11 November, it will become law for care home staff in England to have had a complete course of an authorised COVID-19 vaccine.

Staff will only be able to continue to work inside a care home if they are vaccinated, unless they are under 18 or medically exempt.

The last date for care home workers to get their initial dose to comply with regulations was 16 September.

The requirement for full vaccination will also apply to those visiting a care home in a professional capacity unless exempt.

Compulsory vaccination of health and social care staff – consultation

The government in England is consulting on mandatory COVID-19 and flu vaccinations for health and social care staff.

A six-week consultation, which closes on October 22, proposes making vaccination a condition of deployment.

If agreed, it would mean only those who are fully vaccinated, not including those who are medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has already said it is ‘highly likely’ COVID-19 vaccinations will be made mandatory for front-line NHS staff.

Unions are concerned about mandatory vaccination and have warned the policy could alienate people and exacerbate current staffing shortages.

The RCN recommends promoting the benefits of immunisation rather than making vaccination mandatory.

I have a team member who doesn’t want to be be vaccinated. What should I do?

Helen Donovan, RCN public health professional lead

RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan, says: ‘The majority of all nursing staff accept vaccination, the Department of Health and Social Care’s own figures show 92% of NHS staff have had their first dose and 88% both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

‘The best thing to do when any member of the nursing team has any concerns about the booster is to discuss those concerns with them in a confidential space.

‘Involving staff in this way is the best way to tackle any hesitancy rather than mandating vaccination.’

Do I have to take time off work to have the vaccine?

Ms Donovan explains: ‘The vaccine is something that protects nurses as well as their patients and other staff. All vaccines should be made as easily accessible as possible and staff should not be expected to use their annual leave to have the vaccination.’

In guidance to employers about COVID-19 vaccination, Public Health England advises employers to consider allowing breaks in the day or time off to support staff vaccination.


Further information


Related articles


Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs