COVID-19 vaccines

What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines if you live with a lung condition. 

Seasonal COVID-19 vaccines

If you are 65 or over you will automatically be offered a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine (booster) in autumn 2023.

You may also be able to get a booster vaccine if you are at risk of becoming very ill with COVID-19. This includes people with:

  • asthma, if it’s poorly controlled
  • alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
  • bronchiectasis
  • bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • cystic fibrosis
  • interstitial lung disease, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), sarcoidosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis or pneumoconiosis39
  • lung cancer  
  • mesothelioma  
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • other long-term health issues that affect the lungs, such as an autoimmune condition or connective tissue disease.

You can also have the vaccine if you’ve recently had a lung transplant.

The NHS will contact you if you can get this vaccine.  

What is poorly controlled asthma? 

Poorly controlled asthma means that you:  

  • have taken two or more courses of oral corticosteroids in the last 24 months (two years), or
  • take steroid tablets every day for your asthma, or
  • have had one or more hospital admission for asthma in the last 24 months (two years).

If you have a weakened immune system

If you develop a new health condition or start treatment that severely weakens your immune system, your specialist will assess whether you need an additional COVID-19 vaccine.

They will refer you and advise on the best time to get your vaccination around your planned treatment. Speak to your specialist for more information. 

Common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine will not give you COVID-19. In fact, the COVID-19 vaccine gives you the best protection against COVID-19.

As with any vaccine, we know people sometimes worry about safety. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with lung conditions. The COVID-19 vaccines given on the NHS have all met strict safety and quality standards.

Most side effects are mild and should not last longer than a week. These include:

  • sore arm from the needle  
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • feeling achy
  • mild flu-like symptoms  
  • feeling or being sick.

Serious side effects from the coronavirus vaccines are very rare.

Call NHS 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms within a few days of being vaccinated:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath  
  • a fast beating, fluttering, or pounding heart (palpitations).

Blood clots are an extremely rare side effect, and the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh any risks.

It’s safe to have the flu vaccine, pneumonia vaccine and COVID- 19 vaccine at the same time.

Most people with allergies can be vaccinated against COVID-19.  

If you've ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis), tell healthcare staff before you get vaccinated. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them straight away. For advice about your allergies, speak to your GP or a healthcare professional who knows your medical history. 

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines offered on the NHS do not contain egg or animal products, including pork. You can find out the ingredients in the vaccines:  

The Sanofi and GSK COVID-19 vaccines contain an oil taken from sharks.

The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. The vaccines have been shown to:  

  • reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19  
  • protect you against different types of COVID-19.

It can take three to four weeks after your first dose of the vaccine before you’re protected from the virus. You need at least two doses of the vaccine, and a booster dose, for protection that lasts longer.

If you take a blood thinner like warfarin it is safe for you to have the COVID-19 vaccine, but you should tell the person vaccinating you.

If you have asthma and are treated with biologics (known as mAbs, or monoclonal antibodies), it’s safe for you to get a COVID-19 vaccine but talk to your specialist about the best time to get it.  

If possible, you shouldn’t have your vaccine and your asthma biologic on the same day. This is so your clinician can identify any side-effects more easily.

If you’ve had a positive test or symptoms of COVID-19, you should wait before you get a vaccine. If you’re unsure about when to get your vaccine, you can speak to your GP or pharmacist.  

Get support

Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

Read more

Flu vaccine

Getting the flu vaccine is safe and easy. The flu vaccine is free for most people with asthma and lung conditions. 

How do you prevent pneumonia?

There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of pneumonia. These are important to follow even if you have had pneumonia before, to stop you from getting it again.

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