Vaccination FAQ

Avoid Long-Covid – get BOTH your vaccines!

General Information

The UK was the first country in the world to start a vaccination programme using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and because of our swift and decisive action there has been a regular and steady supply of vaccine doses arriving into the UK since early December 2020.

In addition, the UK was the first country in the world to procure and authorise the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and we were the first country in the world to start a vaccination programme with it too. The Oxford vaccine is a British success story – it has had UK government backing throughout.

How do vaccines fight off a virus?

Bugs that cause infections are fought off by the body’s immune system. The immune system finds the bug in your body and trains white blood cells to attack the bug and make antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that attach to parts of the bugs to make them easier to find and attack.

Once the infection is cleared, your immune system will be able to remember what the bug looks like. If the same bug re-enters your body, your immune system should be able to attack it much more quickly and effectively than the first time, before the bug makes you feel unwell. This is known as immunity.

Vaccines are a way of training the immune system to recognise a bug without having the infection first. After having the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, your immune system can react and make antibodies against the virus. This way, if the Covid-19 virus enters your body, your immune system should recognise and attack it quickly.

What vaccines for Covid-19 are currently available?

The Pfizer/BioNtech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are now available. These vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection, and have been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care responsible for ensuring medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe.

The government has in principle secured access to seven different vaccine candidates, across four different vaccine types, totalling over 400 million doses. This includes:

  • 40 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
  • 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
  • 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine
How do the vaccines work?

The vaccines work by making a protein from the virus that is important for creating protection.

The protein works in the same way they do for other vaccines, by stimulating the immune system to make antibodies and cells to fight the infection.

Will the Covid-19 vaccines stop infection?

A vaccine doesn’t eradicate the virus, but it does help protect millions from its effects. It allows the body’s natural defences to fight and ultimately defeat the infection. This is the first step to safeguarding ourselves, and our community, against this disease.

The MHRA has said these vaccines are highly effective but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is really important.

Full protection kicks in around a week or two after that second dose, which is why it’s also important that when you do get invited, you get yourself booked in as soon as possible.

Even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance.

How effective are the current vaccines against new variants of Covid-19?

Studies show the vaccines being used now work well against the Covid-19 variants currently dominant in the UK.

To ensure that new vaccines can be rapidly developed in response to future variants if needed, a new partnership was announced in February between the UK government and vaccine manufacturer CureVac. Read more here.

Are young people aged 12-15 now being offered the vaccine?

People aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as part of the schools-based vaccination programme. Healthy school-aged children aged 12 to 15 will primarily receive their Covid-19 vaccination in their school, with alternative provision for those who are home-schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health settings. Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought.

When will booster vaccination be available, and who will be eligible?

From 20 September, Covid-19 booster vaccinations will be rolled out to care home residents, health and social care workers, people aged over 50, those aged 16-49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of sever Covid-19, adult carers and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals. The programme will allow all those eligible to receive their booster from six months after their second Covid-19 vaccine. The NHS will contact people to let them know when it is their turn to get their booster vaccine.

Which booster vaccines will be offered?

People eligible for a Covid-19 booster will be offered either a full dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or a half dose of the Moderna vaccine, following scientific evidence showing that both provide a strong booster response. This will be regardless of which vaccine the individual previously had.

Where neither can be offered, for example for those who have an allergy to either vaccine, the JCVI advise that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be used for those who received this vaccine for their first and second doses. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives in the UK and around the world.

Will flu vaccines be given to those eligible at the same time as Covid-19 boosters?

Flu vaccines and Covid-19 booster vaccines can be administered at the same time, but this might not always be possible. People who are eligible are encouraged to get both vaccinations as soon as possible when invited to do so, rather than waiting for the possibility of getting them together.

Why should you get vaccinated?

It can be hard to understand the concept of a having a vaccine to protect you from disease but not infection. Think about a car and a seat belt. The seat belt won’t prevent you from having a car crash, but it makes it much more likely that you’ll be OK if you do.

The vaccine protects you against the consequences of something you don’t want – a viral infection – but it won’t stop it from happening.

So, after being vaccinated, you’ll still need to do everything you can to avoid the bad thing – getting infected – happening in the first place.

Remember to wash your hands in warm soapy water for 20 seconds, wear a face covering where necessary, stay 2m apart from people when you go out and, when indoors, have a window open to let in plenty of fresh air.

I’m part of the Black African and Caribbean community – can you reassure me that the vaccine is safe?
How many people have been vaccinated so far?

Over 91 million Covid-19 vaccinations have been given to people in the UK, and the number continues to rise every day. Figures on vaccination uptake for the UK will be published on a weekly basis on the PHE coronavirus data dashboard.

What are the differences between the available vaccines, and which is more effective?

The Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are all highly effective.

Because each vaccine has been developed using a different protocol and testing process, it is impossible to compare like for like. It would be like trying to compare apples and oranges.

But what you can be assured of is that they are effective and will save lives and reduce hospitalisations.

These vaccines have been approved because they passed the strict and rigorous MHRA tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whichever vaccine they get, it will be highly effective and protect them from the effects of coronavirus.

Are there any side-effects?

As with all medicines, side-effects can occur and are all captured during the clinical trial process, and are considered by the MHRA when assessing new medicines for use.

The same rigorous process has been followed for the Covid-19 vaccines.

Most side-effects of the Covid-19 vaccines are mild and transient and should not last longer than a week; usually, if they do occur, it’s within 24-48hrs, and can include:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to and in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.

More information on possible side-effects can be found on NHS.UK 

Note:

If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.

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

All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side-effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA.

You can also use the MHRA’s Yellow Card website to report any side-effects here.

Should people who have already had Covid-19 get vaccinated?

Yes, the MHRA has looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t.

Should there be a space between contracting Covid-19 and getting the vaccine?

Yes, the MHRA recommends that those who have already had Covid-19 allow a 4 week period before getting vaccinated.

Should there be a space between having the flu vaccine and having the Covid-19 vaccine?

It is not essential to leave time between the flu vaccine and the Covid-19 vaccine, but it is recommended that there should be a gap of a week.

We would always encourage anyone who is eligible but has not yet taken up their flu jab to do so as soon as possible.

Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe?

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have confirmed it is safe to do so. The coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.

The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has stated: “These vaccines have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes”.

As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products and go through a strict process of checks. In fact, there are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and a continued monitoring process once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.

Can people choose which vaccine they want?

No. Any vaccines that the NHS provides will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s strict tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while to get vaccinated.

Will the vaccines work with the new strains of the coronavirus?

There is no evidence currently that the new strains will be resistant to the vaccines we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccines. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.

Do the current vaccines prevent transmission?

There is a comprehensive surveillance system in place and run by Public Health England. It provides enhanced follow-up of cases to monitor how effective the vaccines are at protecting against a range of outcomes including: infection, symptomatic disease, hospitalisations, mortality and onwards transmission.

This is a new virus, and we are vaccinating people with newly approved vaccines, so it will take a bit of time before sufficient data is available to provide a clear picture of how vaccination impacts onward transmission. While the  vaccines provide protection from serious disease to a vaccinated person, we do not yet know if they prevent someone from passing on the virus to others.

Everyone must continue to follow the rules to protect the NHS and save lives, even after they have been vaccinated, remembering hands, face, space and fresh air.

For how long will the vaccines protect people?

Public Health England is using existing surveillance systems and enhanced follow-up of cases to monitor how effective the vaccine is at protecting against a range of outcomes including: infection, symptomatic disease, hospitalisations, mortality and onwards transmission.

Because we are dealing with a new virus and new vaccines, it is likely to be some time before sufficient data is available to provide a clear picture of how long the protective effect of vaccination lasts.

If I am identified as a close contact do I have to self-isolate if I am double vaccinated?

From Monday 16 August, close contacts of a positive Covid-19 case, who are double vaccinated, or who are under 18, will no longer be legally required to self-isolate.

Instead of self-isolating, close contacts who are under 18, and close contacts who have been double vaccinated, are advised to get a free PCR test as soon as possible. Find out more here.

Vaccines and the Development Process

How were the coronavirus vaccines developed so quickly?

With the incredibly urgent worldwide need to find a medicine to target the rapidly spreading coronavirus, the medical world joined forces on one common goal: to discover and develop a safe and effective vaccine to protect people from the coronavirus… and quickly. As this was a global public health emergency, governments were prepared to put in lots of funding to manufacturers, without any guarantee of success, but hoping that they would find a solution.

Barriers were lifted, obstacles removed and funding provided in record time. Add to this the great advances in vaccine technology and technological approaches to making vaccines, and the race was on. With everyone pulling together on a common goal, the vaccines were developed speedily and in line with all safety and effectiveness checks at every stage.

Was the approved regulatory process for new medicines followed?

It’s important to note that the trials of the coronavirus vaccines have been run just the same as for any other vaccine. Phase one, phase two and phase three of rigorous and strict clinical trial processes were conducted, albeit at record speed, thanks to everyone working together.

Time in the usually lengthy process of developing a new medicine has been saved by many factors mentioned already but also due to recruiting trial participants in advance. The moment the study protocol was in place, the Ethics Committee was ready to review and the vaccine trial participants were signed up to enter the trials. Great collaboration and planning for one common goal.

But the number of people in the trials was the same as you would expect for any other vaccine. On top of that, the safety assessments and the assessments of effectiveness at the end of the trials were the same – it’s the same regulators doing the same job.

How were the vaccines ready to roll out as soon as regulatory approval was received?

The manufacturers had begun large-scale production of vaccines while they were still in the development stage in trials.

This was a massive commitment because, if the vaccines had not passed all the strict regulations during testing, the companies would have had to destroy what they had manufactured.

As it turned out, the vaccines were approved and given authorisation for use, so distribution was a speedy process as the manufacturing (in line with the trial protocol) was ready to be rolled out.

Why has the dosing process changed?

Throughout this global pandemic, we have always been guided by the latest scientific advice. Having studied evidence on both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, the Joint Committee on Vaccination & Immunisation (JCVI), which advises UK health departments on immunisation, advised that priority should be given to as many people as possible in at-risk groups to receive their first dose, rather than providing two doses in as short a time as possible. This was agreed to by the four UK Chief Medical Officers.

The evidence shows that one dose of either vaccine provides a high level of protection from Covid-19. This is also true of the Moderna vaccine.

As Professor Adam Finn from Bristol University, who sits on the JCVI committee, explained: “There is rock solid evidence that if we give the first dose to as many people as possible, we will achieve much greater impact for everyone.

The impact will be seen in reductions in mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services.

For each vaccine, second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer term protection. Getting both doses remains important, so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

Vaccination Appointments

How will I be contacted for my vaccination?

The NHS will contact people when it is their turn. More people are being offered the vaccine every week.

People will need an appointment to get their vaccine; you will receive an invitation either from your GP practice or the national programme. You will be given an appointment for your first vaccination and a date for your follow-up second dose. Please attend both appointments and follow instructions.

It’s very important to keep to the guidelines on hands, face and space before and after you have been vaccinated.

Please do not call your GP practice to ask about your vaccination, you will be contacted. Your GP practice needs to be available to support patients in need of their services.

Please do not try to book a vaccination if you have not been contacted by the NHS or your GP.

What will happen at your appointment?

Your appointment should take 30 to 45 minutes and will include:

  • being checked in using your booking reference numbers
  • answering questions about your medical history
  • having the vaccination

You may be asked to wait for around 15 minutes after having the vaccination to ensure you are ready to go home.

Remember, even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance.

If you have received an invitation but haven’t booked an appointment

You may get a phone call from the NHS Immunisation Management Service. This call will be from 0300 561 0240.

This will be a reminder to book your Covid-19 vaccination appointments. The person you speak to will ask if you need any help or support.

They will not call you to book appointments over the phone.

Who is getting priority for their vaccination?

In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time.

The Covid-19 vaccines are being given to:

  • children aged 12-15 years old
  • people aged 16 and over
  • some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers

You need to be registered with a GP surgery in England. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Can I leave home to travel to a vaccination site for my Covid-19 vaccine?

You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a Covid-19 test, for medical appointments and for emergencies.

Remember, even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance.

Has the MHRA approved care home vaccinations?

Yes, this was approved and the vaccine roll-out to care homes is now complete.

Why were healthcare workers amongst the first groups to receive the vaccine?

The JCVI has put patient-facing health and social care staff into a priority group because of their heightened risk of exposure to the virus.

The NHS is experienced in vaccinating hundreds of thousands of staff quickly and safely – they do it every year for the flu vaccine – and all local NHS employers will be responsible for ensuring that 100% of eligible staff have the opportunity to take it up over the coming weeks and months.

If a household has a priority group member, such as an NHS frontline worker or vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?

These decisions are for the JCVI. Their current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.

Can I get a Covid-19 vaccination privately?

No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police online or by calling 112.

Is one vaccine better than the other?

The important point for any vaccine is whether the MHRA approves it for use – if it does, then that means it’s a worthwhile vaccine to have and people should have it if they are eligible.

Can any member of the public be vaccinated? Can they just walk into a service?

No. People will be offered vaccinations in line with recommendations from the independent JCVI. The NHS will contact people when it is their turn. People will need an appointment to get their vaccine; most people will be invited by their GP practice or the national programme.

How do I book my second vaccination?

If you have not been offered your second vaccination 12 weeks after your first, don’t worry – this doesn’t reduce your immunity. Call the vaccination centre that provided your first dose to book your second appointment.

Will the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine be used more because it’s cheaper and easier to store?

The vaccines that the NHS uses, and in what circumstances, will be decided by the MHRA. Both vaccines are classed as being very effective. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to store and transport, meaning we can deliver it in more places, and we expect to have more doses available as they are manufactured in the UK, so we would expect that most people are likely to receive this vaccine over the coming weeks and months.

Vaccine Safety

Is the NHS confident the Covid-19 vaccines are safe?

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.

The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has said these vaccines are safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.

As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products.

There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.

The MHRA recommends that those with severe allergies to the ingredients of the vaccines should not receive them. Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them. A second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.

Are there any side-effects?

As with all medicines, side-effects can occur. Side-effects are all captured during the clinical trial process and are considered by the MHRA when assessing new medicines for use. The same rigorous process has been followed for the Covid-19 vaccines.

Most side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week. Usually, if they do occur, it’s just within 24-48hrs, and can include:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to, in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.

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

All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side-effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA.

More information on possible side-effects can be found on NHS.UK

Why are people under 40 being offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine?

Given the (albeit extremely rare) slightly higher incidence of concurrent thrombosis (blood clots) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) following the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in younger people, on 7 May 2021 the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued updated advice based on the available data on the current epidemiology, benefit-risk profile by age, modelling predictions on future disease trends and the current forecast on vaccine supply.

The JCVI advises that, in addition to those under 30, unvaccinated adults aged 30 to 39 who are not in a clinical priority group at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease, should be preferentially offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

Blood clots occur naturally and are not uncommon. According to Thrombosis UK, around 1 in 1,000 people in the UK develops a blood clot each year. In fact, Covid-19 itself causes an increased risk of blood clotting – 7.8% of coronavirus patients suffer blood clots on the lungs, while 11.2% will suffer deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the legs.

No medicine is risk-free. The risk – approximately one in one million – of dying from a blood clot following the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been received by nearly 200 million people worldwide, is incredibly small. By contrast, Covid-19 kills one in eight people who are infected over the age of 75, and one in 1,000 infected in their 40s who develop symptoms.

Everybody who has already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts from their first vaccination.

When will vaccine ingredients be published?

A detailed review of the vaccines and their ingredients has been provided by the MHRA and can be found at the following links.

Information on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is available on GOV.UK

Information on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available on GOV.UK

Information on the Moderna vaccine is available on GOV.UK

The British Islamic Medical Association has produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community

What about the allergic reactions that have been reported?

These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.

Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them. A second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.

Everybody will also be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just as with any other vaccine.

How effective are the vaccines? 

The MHRA has said these vaccines are highly effective but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is really important.

To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care advises that the first and second doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart.

Will the vaccine affect my fertility?

There is no evidence to suggest that the Covid-19 vaccines will affect your fertility, nor do they adversely affect anyone undergoing fertility treatment.

How long do the Covid-19 vaccines take to work?

Full protection kicks in around a week or two after that second dose, which is why it’s also important that when you do get invited, you book in as soon as possible.

Remember, even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance.

What happens if a person has the first vaccine but not the second?

Both vaccines have been authorised on the basis of two doses because the evidence from the clinical trials shows that this gives the maximum level of protection.

To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care advises that the second dose the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart.

The evidence doesn’t show any risk to not having the second dose, other than not being as protected as you otherwise would be. We would urge everyone to show up for both of their appointments for their own protection, as well as to ensure we don’t waste vaccines or the time of NHS staff.

Do the vaccines include any parts from foetal or animal (including porcine) origin?

There is no material of foetal or animal (including porcine) origin in the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s (the official UK regulator) website.

Information on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is available on GOV.UK

Information on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is available on GOV.UK

Information on the Moderna vaccine is available on GOV.UK

Are the Covid-19 vaccines compatible with my religion?

The British Islamic Medical Association has considered all varieties of the vaccine and recommends that Muslims have the vaccine.

The Muslim Council of Britain is also recommending the vaccine and Imams across the UK have confirmed that all the varieties of the vaccine are halal.

The British Sikh community has also supported the vaccine, as have Hindu leaders.

The Church of England says that all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience.

The Catholic church has said that the vaccine, including the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, is acceptable and can be morally justified.

More than 80 Jewish doctors in the UK have signed a letter to confirm that the Pfizer vaccine does not contain any ingredients that are not kosher.

The Pfizer, Oxford and Moderna vaccines have all been purchased by the Israeli government.

Orthodox Jewish groups including the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America have also encouraged their community members to get vaccinated.

For how long will the vaccine be effective?

We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer. This will be constantly monitored.

Are there any people who shouldn’t have the vaccine?

People with history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccines should not be vaccinated. Please check your allergy against the list of ingredients and ensure you tell your vaccinator at your appointment.

The MHRA has updated its guidance to say that the Covid-19 vaccines have not been tested in pregnancy, so until more information is available, those who are pregnant should not routinely have the Covid-19 vaccine. For those who are breastfeeding, the MHRA states they can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks.

Do the vaccines work on people taking immune suppressants?

Although the vaccine was not tested on those with very serious immunological conditions, the vaccine has been proven to be very effective and it is unlikely that the vaccine will have no effect at all on these individuals.

Information on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is available on GOV.UK.

Information on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is available on GOV.UK

Information on the Moderna vaccine is available on GOV.UK

There may be a very small number of people with very complex or severe immunological problems who can’t make any response at all – but the vaccine should not do any harm to these individuals. Individuals meeting these criteria may want to discuss the vaccine further with their specialist doctor.

Delivering the Vaccine

How is the NHS delivering vaccines?

To make it as easy as possible for those who are eligible to access a vaccination safely, hundreds of Local Vaccination Services have been set up, with more due to start in the coming weeks.

These community and primary care-led services will vary based on local and logistical considerations but include GP practices, local authority sourced buildings, pharmacies and other local facilities, as well as roving teams who have started delivering it in care homes and to people with in-home care.

The NHS has also established vaccination centres, where large numbers of people will be able to go and get vaccinated. These could be in local venues such as sports stadiums, racecourses and concert venues that offer the physical space to deal with large numbers of people while maintaining social distancing.

Booking your online appointment

Follow the instructions provided when you’re invited to book your vaccination appointment. You will be asked for your NHS number.

If you do not know your NHS number you can still book an appointment.

What happens if you receive an invitation for your vaccination appointment but haven’t yet booked one?

You may get a phone call from the NHS Immunisation Management Service. This call will be from 0300 561 0240.

This will be a reminder to book your Covid-19 vaccination appointments.

The person you speak to will ask if you need any help or support.

They will not call you to book appointments over the phone.

Will I be allowed to travel a long distance to a vaccination centre even though we are being asked to stay at home as much as possible?

You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a Covid-19 test, for medical appointments and for emergencies.

Remember, even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance relating to hands, face, space, fresh air and staying at home.

Will vulnerable people have to travel to get the vaccine or does it come to them?

We are planning a mixed approach to ensuring that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely. For care home residents and those who can’t leave home, this will involve roving community teams coming to them in their places of residence.

If you are a carer for someone, how do you register the fact so you can also get vaccinated and continue to care for them?

The guidance states that other groups at higher risk, including those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, should also be offered vaccination alongside these groups. Local authorities are working with Clinical Commissioning Group colleagues to map all health and social care staff, including domiciliary carers, to ensure effective communication with all eligible groups.

How will patients be invited for a vaccination? How/when will they go for the second? Will this be at the same place/what happens if there is a delay in between?

When it is the right time people will be contacted to make their appointment, either by their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number. Some services are currently also phoning and texting patients to invite them in.

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted. The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first.

When you book your first dose you will also be asked to book your second too. For most people this will be within three months of your first dose. The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed this longer timeframe so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose offers a high level of protection.

Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

If you are a resident of Berkshire, but are registered at a surgery in another county, who deals with your vaccination?

The programme is based on which surgery you are registered with, not your home address.

How does your GP know whether you took up the NHS offer or not?

Patient records will be updated so they know who is receiving their vaccine through the different schemes.

Can you mix and match – i.e. accept the offer from NHS and then get your follow-up jab through the GP’s scheme, or vice versa?

No, you will receive your second dose from the same provider.

When you get your follow-up vaccination, are you guaranteed to get the same type as the first one, i.e. Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca or Moderna?

You will receive the same vaccine in both doses.

Will the vaccine change your DNA?

No. It doesn’t change the body’s DNA or “wrap itself into your system”.

The mRNA vaccine introduces a molecule into the body which instructs cells to build a disease-specific marker (antigen).

This marker is then recognised by the immune system as “real Covid” which produces antibodies to fight the real thing.

mRNA vaccines are generally viewed positively, as they don’t involve using part of a virus, like some traditional vaccines.

Stay informed 

One of the most important things people can do to support the vaccine effort is to make sure they, and the people around them, are fully equipped with the latest NHS vaccine advice.

People can keep up to date through the official NHS website (www.nhs.uk) and if a family member, close friend or acquaintance is offered their vaccine, encourage them to take it and make sure they have access to official advice.

The public should watch out for Covid-19 vaccine email scams. People can report suspect emails they’ve received but not acted upon to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS), by forwarding them to report@phishing.gov.uk.

If you have provided personal or financial details, or transferred any money as a result of a suspicious email, you should report what has happened to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or through the Action Fraud website.