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Coronavirus and COVID-19

Coronavirus vaccine: what people with lung conditions need to know

On this page we have information about the coronavirus vaccine and explain what people with lung conditions need to know.

On this page: 

Spring booster vaccinations   

People aged 75 and older, residents in care homes for older people, and everyone over 12 years old with a weakened immune system will be offered a spring booster coronavirus vaccine.

You will be able to book your appointments on the NHS. 

Vaccinations for adults

All UK adults aged over 18 should have been offered two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. They should also have been offered a booster vaccine, which is given three months after the last dose. 

If you haven’t had any vaccinations yet, the NHS has more information about booking your first and second dose, and your booster.  

If you’re over 75, living in a care home for older people, or aged 12 or over with a weakened immune system, you’ll also be offered a spring booster dose. This will be offered six months after your last booster

Vaccinations for children

All children and young people aged 12-17 should have been offered two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Children aged 5 to 11 can also receive two smaller doses of the vaccine.  

Young people aged 16-17 can also receive a booster vaccine three months after their last dose. Some children aged 12-15 are also eligible for a booster vaccine if they are at high-risk from COVID-19 or if they live with someone who is immunosuppressed. 

Children aged 12-17 who are immunosuppressed will also be offered a spring booster dose

You can book your child’s vaccine appointments on the NHS website. 

If you’re immunosuppressed

If you’re immunosuppressed, it means your immune system isn’t working properly and you may be more vulnerable to infections, like coronavirus. You might be immunosuppressed if you’ve recently had a lung transplant for example. 

It’s safe for people who are immunosuppressed to get the vaccine, but it’s not clear yet how effective it will be for this group of people. So, if you’re immunosuppressed, it’s very important you continue to take steps to protect yourself from catching the virus, even after you’ve had the vaccine. It’s worth asking those you live with to do these as well.

Some people over the age of 12 who are immunosuppressed should be offered a third primary dose of the vaccine. You will then be offered booster vaccines on top of the third dose.

How safe are the vaccines?

The vaccine is safe for people with lung conditions. All approved vaccines have met strict standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness. 

You should only look at reliable sources of information about the coronavirus vaccine that are updated regularly, such as this webpage and the NHS.

If you’re taking warfarin 

If you are on a blood thinner caller warfarin (used as treatment for pulmonary embolism) you should be going for regular blood tests to monitor the thickness of your blood. 

On the day of your vaccine appointment, make sure you know your latest reading and when you were last checked. If you don’t know your reading, you should get it from your GP surgery ahead of your vaccination. If you don’t know your reading, your vaccine might not be able to go ahead.   

If you’re being treated with biologics

If you have asthma and are treated with biologics (known as mAbs, or monoclonal antibodies), talk to your hospital clinician around the timing of your vaccine and your asthma biologic. 

There is no evidence to show the vaccines are unsafe for you. However, if possible, your COVID-19 vaccine and biologic therapy should not be given on the same day. This is so your clinician can identify any side-effects more easily.  

These decisions should be made by your specialist, so it’s important you do not stop taking or change any of your medicines without speaking to them first. 

How effective are the vaccines?

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

  • 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 variants of COVID-19. 

Protection from the virus can take three to four weeks after one dose of the vaccine. You will need at least two doses of the vaccine for protection that lasts longer. Some people will also need booster vaccines to help improve protection. 

Can I have the vaccine if I’ve had COVID-19?  

If you’ve had a positive test or symptoms of COVID-19, you should wait four weeks, or until you have recovered, before having the vaccine.  If you’re unsure, you should speak to your health care professional.

Vaccine side effects

Most side effects are mild and shouldn’t last longer than a week. These are:

  • sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • feeling achy. 

If you need to, these can be treated with painkillers like paracetamol. 

Serious side effects from the coronavirus vaccines are extremely rare. But if you experience any of the below, four days to four weeks after vaccination, seek medical advice urgently: 

  • a new, severe headache that isn’t helped by painkillers, or is getting worse
  • a headache that seems worse when lying down or bending over
  • an unusual headache accompanied by:
    • blurred vision, nausea and vomiting
    • difficulty talking
    • weakness, drowsiness or seizures
  • new, unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain
  • feelings of a fast-beating or fluttering, pounding heart. 

Blood clots and the vaccine

There have been some reports of very rare condition involving blood clots after vaccination. 

While this condition is extremely rare, there appears to be a higher risk in people shortly after the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Around four people develop this condition for every million doses given. It’s seen as slightly more in younger people (under the age of 30) and tends to occur between four days and two weeks following vaccination. 

The benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh any risks  and you should still get your vaccine.

What is in the coronavirus vaccine?

The approved coronavirus vaccines do not contain egg or animal products. You can find out the ingredients in the vaccines: 

Do not have the vaccine if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the vaccine ingredients, or experience anaphylaxis after the first dose. For advice specific to you and your condition, it’s best to speak to your GP or a health care professional who knows your medical history.

Last updated: Tuesday 24 May 2022

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Last medically reviewed: May 2022. Due for review: May 2022

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.