Alternative seasonal COVID-19 vaccine
The NHS is offering a further COVID-19 vaccination this spring to those at highest risk of severe illness from the virus. You may be eligible if:
- you’re aged 75 or over (by 30 June 2023), or
- you have a weakened immune system due to a health condition or medical treatment.
Who can get an alternative vaccine?
In rare cases where people have had severe allergic reactions to more common types of vaccine (mRNA vaccines), an alternative vaccine will be offered. This includes those with a previous history of immediate anaphylactic reactions with an unidentified trigger.
It is estimated that less than 1% of people will need an alternative vaccine.
Alternative vaccines are unlikely to be necessary for those with mild or common allergies following vaccination, such as a rash, wheezing or hives. If you have experienced mild or common allergies following vaccination, but you have previously tolerated an mRNA vaccine, you can continue to have the common types of vaccine.
Many people who were previously advised to have an AstraZeneca vaccine can safely receive mRNA vaccines and do not need an alternative. This is because advice to have an AstraZeneca vaccine based on allergy history has been reviewed. AstraZeneca is no longer offered by the NHS, in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice.
What are the alternative vaccines?
In exceptional cases where mRNA vaccines are not clinically suitable, those who are eligible for a spring vaccination should be offered either:
- VidPrevtyn Beta (Sanofi/GSK), or
- Nuvaxovid (Novovax).
All of the available vaccines have been rigorously tested and found to provide good protection against severe illness from COVID-19.
How to find out if you need an alternative vaccine
You can discuss your individual circumstances with a medical professional, who will make sure you are offered a vaccine that is suitable for you and explain any risks.
Your GP practice or vaccination centre should refer you to a specialist clinic if an initial assessment suggests that you cannot have one of the common vaccine types.
Please be aware upon further clinical assessment, you may be advised that you can safely tolerate an mRNA vaccine. A referral does not guarantee that you will be offered an alternative vaccine.
Further information about the vaccines, including their ingredients and how to get them, is available on the nhs.uk website.
- A guide to the COVID-19 spring booster 2023: public information leaflets are available in a range of formats.
- Read the JCVI statement on spring 2023 COVID-19 vaccinations, 22 February 2023.
- You can find out about the ingredients in the vaccines currently available in the UK by reading this guide to the use of human and animal products in vaccines on gov.uk.