People over the age of 16 in Ireland can now book an appointment to receive their COVID-19 vaccine through the HSE.
Getting a vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19.
In this article:
- How to register for the COVID-19 vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine booster
- Walk-in vaccination clinics
- Deciding which vaccine to register for
- Types of COVID-19 vaccines
- Consent and the vaccine
- Vaccine side-effects
- COVID-19 vaccine concerns
How to register for the COVID-19 vaccine
The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to anyone over the age of 12 in Ireland.
Registering for the vaccine for people aged 16 and over
If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, you can register for one by:
- Booking through the HSE online portal
- Making an appointment with a participating pharmacy
- Registering over the phone
- Visiting a walk-in vaccination clinic
What do I need to bring to my appointment?
When you go to your vaccine appointment, you will need to bring your appointment information. This will be on your mobile phone or in a letter.
You will also need to bring a photo ID with you. Your photo ID can be your:
- Passport – book or card
- Driving licence
- Public Services Card
- Travel pass
- National Age Card
- School or college ID
If your photo ID does not have your date of birth on it, you should also bring a copy of your birth cert or another document that has your date of birth.
If you are 16 or 17 and do not have a photo ID, you can bring your birth cert.
COVID-19 vaccine booster
A vaccine booster is used to give better protection to people who have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. You are considered fully vaccinated if you have had:
- One dose the Janssen vaccine
- Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine
- Two doses of the Pfizer Vaccine
- Two doses of the Moderna vaccine
Over time, our protection from vaccines can weaken, which is why a booster dose is given to boost that protection. Currently, you must wait for the following timeframes to have passed before you can get your booster:
- Five months after your second vaccine dose (Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca)
- Three months after your one-shot Janssen dose
However, you will not be able to get your booster unless your age group/specific category has been called. This means if more than three/five months has passed, depending on the type of vaccine you received, you may need to continue waiting until you have been called up for the booster.
Who can get a booster dose?
Booster doses are being offered on a phased basis. People who are most at risk from COVID-19 will be offered a booster first. You do not need to register for a booster dose – the HSE will contact you when it’s time for your booster.
The following groups are currently being offered booster doses:
- People aged 16-25 with an underlying condition
- Healthcare workers
- People aged 60 and over
- Those in nursing homes or long-term healthcare facilities
The booster will then be offered to the following age groups, in this order:
- 50 – 59 years of age
- 16 years and older who are pregnant
- 40 – 49 years of age
- 16 – 39 years of age
How to get the booster
Once you are eligible for the booster shot, you will receive a text message from the HSE with an appointment at a vaccination centre. You will be given an appointment at a vaccination centre even if you were originally vaccinated by your GP.
You can also attend walk-in vaccination clinics during specific days and times, and you do not need an appointment. If you want to go to a walk-in clinic instead of attending the appointment scheduled for you by the HSE, you can reply to their text message with the word ‘REJECT’ and attend the walk-in clinic instead. Find out more about walk-in vaccination clinics below.
Walk-in vaccination clinics
You can choose to get a vaccine without an appointment by going to a walk-in clinic. Dose one and dose two walk-in clinics are open on specific days and times. If you show up outside of these hours, you will not be vaccinated.
Who can go to a walk-in clinic?
If you have not been fully vaccinated, you can go to any walk-in clinic. It does not have to be the clinic closest to your home. Anyone aged 16 and over can attend a walk-in clinic alone.
If you have already have one dose of a two dose vaccine, you can attend a walk-in clinic when your second vaccine is due. This is true regardless of where you received the first dose. It is important to bring your vaccination card with you.
What do I bring to a walk-in vaccination clinic?
You don’t have to register online before going to a walk-in clinic but registering may speed up your time in the vaccination centre. If you have already registered online, you only need to bring photo identification with your date of birth on it. If your ID does not have your date of birth on it, then also bring a copy of your birth cert.
If you have not registered online, you will need to bring/ know:
- Proof of your personal Public Service (PPS) number – if you have one
- mobile phone number
- email address
- photo ID that has your date of birth – this can be a passport, driving licence, Garda age card, school ID
What vaccine will I receive at a walk-in clinic?
Most walk-in clinics offer the first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, but other vaccines may be available in some clinics. The type of vaccine being offered at each clinic is stated on this list of vaccination centres and walk-in clinics.
Where are the walk-in clinics?
To find a walk-in clinic near you, and to find out its opening hours, you can read this list of walk-in clinics.
From September 27th, there will be pop-up vaccination centres at third level colleges around Ireland. Some of these will operate as walk-in clinics, while others will require you to register online. To find out whether your college has a vaccination centre, see this list of walk-in clinics.
Deciding which vaccine to register for
If you are aged 16-17, you will receive one of the mRNA vaccines: Pfizer or Moderna. These are the recommended vaccines for your age group.
If you are 18 and over, you have a choice between two types of COVID-19 vaccine:
- mRNA vaccines: The Pfizer or Moderna Vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which are the recommended vaccine for people under the age of 50
- Viral Vector Vaccines: The Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines are viral vector vaccines.
Read more about the types of COVID-19 vaccines below.
Which vaccine should I choose?
If you are 16-17, you will receive either Pfizer or Moderna as these are the vaccines authorised for your age group.
If you are 18 or over, it is up to you which type of vaccine type you decide to get – a mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or a viral vector vaccine (Janssen or AstraZeneca).
The mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is the recommended vaccine for those under the age of 50. The reason for this is because the Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines have a very rare risk of unusual blood clots in younger age groups. However, the Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines are still considered safe.
How much protection will I get from the vaccine?
All vaccine types offer very good protection from severe illness from COVID-19. Evidence so far suggests Pfizer and Moderna offer slightly higher protection. However, you will still get very good protection from Janssen and AstraZeneca.
However, protection from vaccines decreases over time, which means a booster shot will be required. You will need a booster after the following time periods have passed:
- Five months after your second vaccine dose (Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca)
- Three months after your one-shot Janssen dose
Types of COVID-19 vaccines
There are currently four vaccines approved for use in Ireland. All of these vaccines have been tested to ensure they are safe for use and effective in protecting against COVID-19. All COVID-19 vaccines prepare your body’s immune system to defend itself against the virus.
You cannot get COVID-19 from a vaccine. Instead, it helps to protect you against the virus.
If you are aged 18 to 34 and book a vaccine through a pharmacy, you will receive the Janssen vaccine. This is also known as ‘the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’ as Johnson & Johnson are the company that makes this vaccine.
You will receive one dose of this vaccine in your upper arm. It takes 14 days after getting the vaccine to have the best protection against COVID-19. This is when you are considered to be fully vaccinated.
The Janssen vaccine is not recommended for people who are pregnant or those who are allergic to any of the ingredients. If the Janssen vaccine is not suitable for you for these reasons, or if your doctor advises you that it is not suitable for another medical reason, you will be offered another vaccine.
There is a very rare risk of developing unusual blood clots with low platelets with the Janssen vaccine. The risk of this very rare condition is higher in younger people for both vaccines. Learn about Janssen side effects to know what to watch out for after receiving the vaccine. Remember, these side effects are very rare, but if you are concerned about the risks of the vaccine, talk to your GP or the person giving you your vaccine.
Young people have the choice to opt-in for the AstraZeneca vaccine. You will need two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. People who received a first dose of AstraZeneca can get an AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine as their second dose.
You will receive your second dose four to 12 weeks after your first dose. It takes 15 days after getting the second dose to have the best protection against COVID-19. This is when you are considered to be fully vaccinated.
If you are pregnant and have not been given a vaccine yet, you will be offered a different COVID-19 vaccine to the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, if you have already had your first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you should still get your second dose. If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the AstraZeneca vaccine, or if your doctor advises you that it is not suitable for another medical reason, you will be offered another vaccine.
There is a very rare risk of developing unusual blood clots with low platelets with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The risk of this very rare condition is higher in younger people for both vaccines. Learn about AstraZeneca side effects to know what to watch out for after receiving the vaccine. Remember, these side effects are very rare, but if you are concerned about the risks of the vaccine, talk to your GP or the person giving you your vaccine.
If you register to receive a vaccine at a vaccination centre, Pfizer is one of the vaccines that you might receive. This is also known as the BioNTech vaccine.
You will need two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. You will receive your second dose four weeks after your first. It takes seven days after getting the second dose to have the best protection against COVID-19. This is when you are considered to be fully vaccinated.
If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine, or if your doctor advises you that it is not suitable for another medical reason, you will be offered another vaccine.
If you register to receive a vaccine at a vaccination centre, Moderna is one of the vaccines that you might receive.
You will need two doses of the Moderna vaccine. You will receive your second dose four weeks after your first. It takes 14 days after getting the second dose to have the best protection against COVID-19. This is when you are considered to be fully vaccinated.
If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the Moderna vaccine, or if your doctor advises you that it is not suitable for another medical reason, you will be offered another vaccine.
Consent and the vaccine
If you are 16 and over, you do not need to get permission from a parent or guardian to be vaccinated.
Do I need permission from my family to get vaccinated if I am under 18?
People aged 16 and over can consent to medical treatment, which includes getting vaccinated. This means you do not need to get permission from a parent or guardian to get the vaccine. However, you can choose to bring a parent or guardian to your appointment if you want some support.
As a 16-17 year-old, you have the right to consent to the vaccine. It is important to seek accurate and up-to-date information from reliable sources such as spunout and the HSE website so that you can make an informed decision. If you have any questions and concerns about the vaccine, you can speak with your GP or the person giving you the vaccine.
My family doesn’t support my decision around the vaccine. What can I do?
As someone who is 16 or over, you have the right to make your own decision about the COVID-19 vaccine. If you want to be vaccinated but your parent or guardian is against it, consider speaking to them about it if you are comfortable doing so. Explain to them why it is important to you that you get the vaccine. If they still have concerns, you could share this article with them, or consult your GP together. Even if they do not have the same views as you, ask that they respect your decision.
If you rely on your family for transportation and they do not want to bring you for your vaccination, there may be other options available. Consider asking a trusted friend, another family member or colleague to bring you for your appointment. If you do travel with them, be sure to wear a face mask for the journey. You could also look into public transport options if you are comfortable doing so and they are available. If you do decide to take a bus or a train, make sure you follow the guidelines on using public transport safely during COVID-19.
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause any side effects?
Some people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine will experience mild side effects such as pain in the area that the vaccine was given, joint pain, sickness, fever, headaches and tiredness. These usually disappear after a few days. If you do get side effects after your vaccine, you can report them to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Serious side effects like severe allergic reactions are extremely rare. Your vaccinator will be trained to treat any allergic reactions if they do occur. If you are concerned about any side effects after you get your vaccinated, you can contact your GP for advice.
Janssen and AstraZeneca side effects
In addition to the side effects listed above, unusual blood clots are one very rare side effect of the Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines. The risk of this very rare condition is higher in younger people for both vaccines. Learn about Janssen side effects and AstraZeneca side effects to know what to watch out for after receiving the vaccine. Remember, these side effects are very rare, but if you are concerned about the risks of the vaccine, talk to your GP or the person giving you your vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccine concerns
There is a lot of information out there about the COVID-19 vaccines. However, not all of it is true. It is important to understand the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and to know that they have all been tested to make sure that they are safe.
Do I have to get a vaccine?
It is up to you to decide if you want to get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, getting a vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Will a vaccine stop me from getting COVID-19?
A vaccine will greatly reduce your chances of getting COVID-19. If you do get COVID-19 after being vaccinated, you are unlikely to get any serious symptoms.
How do we know that the vaccines are safe?
All of the COVID-19 vaccines being used in Ireland have been tested to ensure that they are safe to use. They have still gone through all the usual steps needed to develop a safe and effective vaccine.
There are several reasons why COVID-19 vaccines could be developed more quickly than usual:
- A lot of money was invested into researching them around the world
- The high number of COVID-19 cases worldwide meant that vaccine trials could quickly measure differences in diseases risk
- Large scale manufacturing of vaccines started before the results of trials were available
- Regulators and those developing the vaccines started their conversations very early so the authorisation process could be done quickly once trials were complete
What if I am pregnant?
The COVID-19 vaccine has not been shown to cause any harm to pregnant people or babies in the womb. Getting a vaccine will greatly reduce your chances of getting COVID-19 while pregnant and becoming very ill.
If you are pregnant, your maternity hospital will phone you to arrange a vaccine for you. You can also talk to your obstetrician (doctor specialising in pregnancy and reproductive health) or midwife at any of your hospital appointments to arrange getting your vaccine.
The vaccines being offered to pregnant people are the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines.
Read more about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy.
What if I am breastfeeding?
There is no known reason to avoid breastfeeding after you get your COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have any other concerns or questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, your vaccinator will be happy to answer any questions you have at your appointment. You can also visit the HSE website for accurate and up to date information on the vaccines.
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