Vaccinations for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find out why vaccinating yourself against COVID-19 is important, how you can get vaccinated in Lewisham, and more.
All adults in England can now book their COVID-19 jab

Vaccination against COVID-19 is still important

Updated: 11 April 2022

As of 7 April 2022 in the UK,

  • more than 52 million people have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose (92%)
  • over 49 million have had their second dose (86%)
  • over 38 million have had their booster/third dose (68%)

Get updated information about the state of COVID-19 in the UK today here.

The NHS in south east London is calling for people to continue to attend booked vaccination appointments, and book your appointment as soon as it is your turn.

People who have already received one vaccination are encouraged to attend their appointment for their second dose, and make sure they receive the full long lasting protection.

The NHS says the benefits of the vaccination outweighs any risk and everyone should attend their appointment.

On this page, you will find:

1. Key messages for everyone

2. Links to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), ‘fact check’ about vaccines, and other sources of information

3. COVID-19 vaccination scam alert

4. Vaccinations in south east London

5. Attending your appointment - how you will be contacted, travelling, and what to expect from your appointment

6. The COVID-19 vaccines available - general information about the vaccines, their effectiveness, and safety

7. Vaccine passports

8. How Healthwatch Lewisham is helping and how to contact us with your questions

9. Further information and resources

1. Key messages for everyone

We all have an important part to play.

  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective and are the best protection against COVID-19. Research has shown the vaccines help:
    • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
    • reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
    • protect against COVID-19 variants
  • Please continue to follow all guidance to control the virus and save lives.

If you have recently been vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you getting the COVID-19 disease. It may take three or four weeks for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine, but you need at least two doses for stronger, longer-lasting protection.

The vaccine cannot give you the COVID-19 infection, but it may cause some side effects, including:

  • a sore arm from the injection
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare.

To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues, it is still recommended to:

  • consider wearing a face mask in crowded, enclosed spaces
  • let fresh air in if meeting indoors or opt to meet outside instead
  • consider self-isolating if you believe you do have COVID-19

2. For more information

South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has produced the following webpages to help you understand all things related to COVID-19, including what will happen next.

If you have had an adverse reaction to your COVID-19 vaccine, report your experience here.

3. COVID-19 vaccination scam alert

Fraudsters have been sending 'phishing' email and texts, making cold calls, and showing up at people's doors with offers of a COVID-19 vaccine.

These people are fraudulent, but they often claim to be from the NHS and direct victims to a website that looks authentic. Victims are often asked for personal information and money, sometimes telling people this is because someone will come to their home to give them the vaccine.

The fraudster may take money from the victim by harvesting their personal and financial details, which they will sell or use to take money directly from the victim's bank account.

Elderly and vulnerable people who are often isolated, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are often a target for these scams.

In other cases, people are receiving a notification of their 'vaccination appointment' and are being asked to confirm it by clicking a link. This looks very similar to the genuine texts being sent by GP practice vaccination teams.

Advice for patients from the NHS

  • An official NHS text message will include details of your GP practice. It will also include details of the local vaccination service and its location.
  • Scam text messages and emails do not include local information such as your GP practice details or where you are invited to attend.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS. The NHS will never ask for:

    • your bank account or card details,

    • your pin or banking password,

    • copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.

If you are worried about a text message you have received, please be assured you will remain on your GP practice list for vaccination if you do not respond.

What to do if you think you're being scammed

Calls: The Metropolitan Police is reminding people that if they receive a call, they believe to be fraudulent, to hang up.

Emails: If a suspicious email has been received it can be forwarded to

Texts: Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.

If an individual believes they are a victim of a fraud, this should be reported to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 030 0123 2040 or visiting

More information about reporting COVID-19 vaccination scams can be found on the South East London CCG website.

4. Vaccinations in south east London

As of 3 February 2022 in south east London,

  • more than 1.5 million people have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose
  • over 1 million have had their second dose
  • over 970,000 have had their booster/third dose


  • Everyone aged 5 and over can get a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • People aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can also get a booster dose.

  • People aged 12 and over who had a severely weakened immune system when they had their first 2 doses, will be offered a 3rd dose and a booster (4th dose).

  • People aged 75 and over, people who live in care homes for older people, and people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system, will be offered a spring booster.


  • National Booking System: All eligible people can now book and manage COVID-19 vaccinations online for yourself, your child, or someone you care for, if you have their consent, here.
  • Walk-in vaccination clinics: All eligible people can get their first, second or booster doses from walk-in clinics in Lewisham here.
  • Contact your GP: All eligible people who cannot get an appointment with the National Booking System or walk-in vaccination clinics can contact their GP.
  • Spring 2022 booster: You will be contacted by the NHS when you are due a spring booster vaccination. This will usually be around six months after your last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

5. Attending your appointment

How you will be contacted

Most people can book their vaccination appointments now and do not have to wait to be contacted, unless:

  • You have just received your first or second dose and are waiting until you are eligible to get your next vaccine
  • You are eligible to receive the spring 2022 booster vaccination - you will be contacted around six months after your last dose.

If you miss a call to offer you the vaccine, you will remain on the list and the practice will contact you again using one of the listed methods.

Travelling to your vaccine location

Voluntary Services Lewisham and Lewisham Council are offering free transport to local COVID-19 vaccination centres if you or a loved one is having difficulty with transport.

Call, text or WhatsApp 078 5755 8388 to arrange pick-up and drop-off services.

What to expect at your appointment

Before the appointment

You need to bring:

  • a face covering, unless exempt due to a health concern or disability
  • your booking reference numbers, if your appointment is at a vaccination centre
  • your carer, if relevant to you

At the appointment

Your appointment will be around 30 to 45 minutes, and you will be asked some questions about your medical history and, if relevant, your booking reference number.

Please tell the staff if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction or you are pregnant.

You will then be given an injection of the vaccine into your upper arm.

After the appointment

You may be asked to wait for 15 minutes after the vaccination for monitoring in the unlikely event you have a serious reaction to the vaccine.

While it is very rare to have a serious allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine, it usually happens within minutes.

You will take home a leaflet about what you can expect after your vaccination.

6. The COVID-19 vaccines available

General information

The vaccines that have been approved for use in the UK are:

Please note, you will usually not have the option to choose which vaccine you have. Most people can have any of the available COVID-19 vaccines.

However, if you are:

  • pregnant or under 40, you will usually be offered appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines
  • under 18, you'll only be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

You should have the same vaccine for your first and second doses, unless you had serious side effects after your first dose. However, your booster dose may be different from the vaccine you had for your first two doses.

Read a weekly report about adverse reactions to approved COVID-19 vaccines here.

How effective are COVID-19 vaccines?

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects.

The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others. The vaccines are most effective when you get at least two doses and, for many people, additional booster doses.

Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
  • protect against COVID-19 variants

Watch this NHS video to learn more about how the COVID-19 vaccines work and why.

How safe are COVID-19 vaccines?

Side effects

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. However, like all medicines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them.

Most side effects are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm from the injection
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

You may also get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery one or two days after your vaccination. If needed, painkillers such as paracetamol are approved.

If your symptoms get worse or you're worried, call 111.

You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine, but you may have caught it just before or after your vaccination.

Allergy risks

The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain egg or animal products.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains a tiny amount of alcohol, but this is less than in some everyday foods, such as bread.

Find out more about potential side effects and what actions you should take if you have an unusual reaction here.

7. Vaccination passports

Download the NHS app to get a digital vaccination passport.

Your vaccine passport will only show up when you have had your first and second doses.

Please note that this is a different app than the NHS COVID-19 app, which is used for contact tracing.

You can read more at:

8. How Healthwatch Lewisham can help

We are working with the local NHS and other services to spread the word about the COVID-19 vaccination programme in south east London.

We know that as COVID-19 restrictions are raised, there are lots of questions about vaccines and COVID-19 as a whole.

We are helping local and national organisations to clearly communicate what is happening to local people and making them aware of any questions or issues that arise.

We have already started to share your questions with those responsible for the vaccine, and we will continue to do so as you share your feedback with us.

Please contact us with any questions that you may have and we will do our best to find the answers for you. This will help NHS staff to focus on delivering the vaccine and protecting local people.

9. Further information and resources

Please visit the South East London CCG website for more information.

South East London CCG have published a series of videos on their Youtube channel to help you understand COVID-19 vaccines and the work it is doing in Lewisham.

Resources in British Sign Language (BSL).

Easy-read resources

  • Keep Safe has created easy-read posters about COVID-19 vaccines here.
  • Get an easy-read COVID-19 vaccination consent form for adults created by the UK government here.
  • Get easy-read COVID-19 vaccination leaflets created by the UK government here.
  • Learn how to speak to your GP about the COVID-19 vaccine with Mencap's easy-read guide here
  • Find out how to ask for extra support (reasonable adjustments) when you get your vaccine with Mencap's easy-read guide here
  • Get easy-read information about the COVID-19 vaccine with Mencap here
  • Watch a short film by the NHS about why a face covering is important, how to wear one safely, and why some people might not have to wear one here

Additional guides

  • Get a guide from the UK government for COVID-19 vaccinations for adults here
  • Get a guide from the UK government for COVID-19 vaccinations for women of childbearing age and women who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding here
  • Find out what you should expect after the COVID-19 vaccination with this UK government guide here
  • Find out how COVID-19 impacts people living with HIV with the British HIV Association (BHIVA) here