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Second Covid vaccine: How far apart should your jabs be and can you mix and match?

A man receives the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine
Over half of UK adults have now had their second dose (Picture: PA)

Over half of UK adults have now had their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine, with many more now being called up.

People aged 25 and over can now book their first jab, meaning the UK is getting closer to being a fully-vaccinated nation.

If you’re waiting for the second dose, it can be hard to work out exactly when you’ll receive the invite.

Find out everything you need to know.

How far apart should Covid vaccines be given?

The second vaccine should be given within twelve weeks of the first – whether its a Pfizer or AstraZeneca jab.

When booking your first dose, you should also be prompted to book in your second appointment.

The Government is fast-tracking the second dose for older and more vulnerable people as well as those living in areas with high infection rates.

Some appointments have been brought as early as four weeks forwards.

The time between the two vaccine doses has been cut for many (Picture: Getty)

You should have your second dose as soon as you’re offered it, as research has shows that being fully vaccinated gives fuller immunity to coronavirus.

If, for some reason, you can’t get your second dose within the twelve week period, it’s still best to get it as soon as possible.

It’s not yet clear how a delay affects the level of protection a vaccination offers.

How to book your second Covid vaccine

In most cases, you should be able to book both jabs at the same time.

However, if you haven’t got an appointment for your second dose, you’ll be contacted by the NHS when it’s time to book.

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Hancock: Majority of those in hospital with Covid are unvaccinated

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The process of getting the vaccine has been made easier by the launch of the national self-service appointment booking system – you need to be registered with a GP surgery in England to use this service.

If you’ve received a text, letter or email from the NHS, you can access the service via the official website.

The online booking system also enables you to view, manage and cancel your existing appointments.

You will be asked a few questions in order to confirm your vaccine appointment – make sure you have your NHS number to hand.

Can you mix and match vaccine doses?

Researchers are currently investigating ‘mix and match’ vaccine doses, as initial findings suggest it could boost immune responses.

However, at time of writing, there’s still no conclusive answer on whether or not mixing and matching doses has a positive or negative effect on efficacy.

a microscope image showing cell nuclei (blue) being infected by SARS-CoV-2 (red areas)
Researchers think ‘mix and match’ doses might boost immunity (Picture: PA)

Currently, your GP will only offer you the same type of vaccine – so if you’ve had AstraZeneca for your first dose, you’ll be offered it for your second dose, too.

A ‘mix and match’ option may be introduced if trials continue to show positive results, potentially for a third ‘booster’ jab for vulnerable groups.

Speaking to The Guardian, virologist Laurence Young said the findings were not unexpected.

‘Mix and match vaccination bodes well for the future efficacy of booster shots to soup up protective immunity against virus variants,’ he said.

‘These booster jabs may be even more effective if tweaked to include the variant spike proteins – something currently being trialled by Moderna and very soon by other vaccine manufacturers.’

MORE : Just three out of 126 in hospital with Indian variant had both doses of vaccine

MORE : Tinder and other leading dating apps launch Covid-19 vaccine stickers

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