There are very few people who cannot get the coronavirus vaccine.
You should not get the coronavirus vaccine if you've had a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to:
- any of the ingredients in the vaccine
- a previous dose of the vaccine
The coronavirus vaccine is suitable for people with disorders of the immune system.
Children aged 12 to 15 with underlying health conditions
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended children and young people aged 12 to 15 years old with specific underlying health conditions that put them at risk of serious coronavirus, are offered two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
All other children and young people aged 12 to 17 years will be offered a first dose of the vaccine. The timing of a second dose will be confirmed later.
Health conditions that put young people aged 12 to 15 years old at highest risk of getting coronavirus and of suffering serious complications if they get coronavirus include:
Adults and children with a weakened immune system
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that people aged 12 years and over with a severely weakened immune system should be offered a third dose of the vaccine.
This includes those who had or have:
- blood cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
- lowered immunity due to treatment (such as steroid medication, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
- lowered immunity due to inherited disorders of the immune system
- an organ or bone marrow transplant
- diseases that affect the immune system such as poorly controlled HIV
This third dose may help to improve your immune response to the vaccine and give you better protection against coronavirus.
The third dose should be given at least 8 weeks after your second dose, but the timing will depend on any treatment you may be having. Your health specialist can advise on the best time to have your third dose.
At this time you will need this one extra dose to help improve your protection. Advice on whether you will need a further booster dose after this third dose will be confirmed later.
NHS Scotland will contact you to arrange your appointment for your third dose. If you’ve had a very severe reaction to a previous dose of the coronavirus vaccine, you should discuss this with your health specialist.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus or been told to self-isolate, you should rearrange your appointment. If you’ve recently tested positive for coronavirus, rearrange your appointment for at least 4 weeks after the date you tested positive.
If you have not had either your first or second dose, you should arrange to have them. You’ll still need the third dose but the timing of it will depend on any treatment you may be having. Your health specialist can advise on the best timing.
If you're taking medication
You’ll be asked some questions at your vaccination appointment to make sure that there are no reasons for you not to have the vaccine.
You'll also have an opportunity to ask any questions or discuss concerns you may have.
People with bleeding disorders or taking medication to thin their blood or reduce bleeding
People taking medication to thin the blood, such as warfarin, can safely receive the coronavirus vaccine as long as their treatment is stable.
You should let the person giving you the vaccine know what medication you are on.
Stable means you will have been taking the same dose for a while and if you are on warfarin, your:
- INR checks are up to date
- your latest INR level was in the right range
People with bleeding disorders should consult their specialist or their individual care plan for advice on vaccination.
Cancer treatment and the vaccine
It is recommended that all patients with cancer, including all those receiving systemic anti-cancer therapy (which includes cytotoxics, immunotherapy and targeted therapies), radiotherapy or steroids, should consider getting the coronavirus vaccine.
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) consider the Pfizer BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna coronavirus vaccines to be safe for patients with suppressed immune systems.
Immunosuppression may however reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
Patients should not assume they are immune after receiving the vaccine, and strictly adhere to measures to reduce exposure to the virus.
This same advice is given to everyone receiving the vaccine.
If you’re about to receive planned immunosuppressive therapy, your doctor may advise you to get the vaccine before starting therapy (ideally at least two weeks before), when your immune system is better able to respond.
Where possible, it's preferable for your vaccine doses to be given before starting treatment. To provide maximum benefit, it's recommended that your second dose is given either 3 or 4 weeks after the first dose. But this will depend on the vaccine given. If you're eligible for a third dose, your specialist doctor will advise on the timing.