Latest News: 24 Feb 2021
If you are aged 64 or over, you can book your vaccination appointment online here. You can also use this link to check whether you are among the other groups currently eligible for the vaccine. If you are not yet eligible, please wait to be contacted. The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine.
What you need to know.
Leading the way
The UK is at the forefront of the vaccination programme
In the UK, we have some of the best scientific researchers and medical laboratories in the world and our scientists are great at discovering and developing new, effective medicines, including vaccines. Right here in the UK, one of the very first Covid-19 vaccines has been developed, referred to as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
With the incredibly urgent 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.
Barriers were lifted, obstacles removed and funding provided in record time.
The South African variant of Covid-19
All viruses mutate into new versions or variants, and there are now several variants of Covid-19 in circulation. One of these is the South African variant. So far, 147 cases of this have been identified in the UK, and every effort is being made to stop further spread.
There is no evidence that the South African variant causes more serious illness for people who become infected. As with the original version, the risk is highest for people who are elderly or have significant underlying health conditions. There are concerns that this variant can spread faster and that vaccines may not work as well against it. The vaccines we have are almost certain to work against the version known as the Kent virus, which we currently have throughout the UK.
With only small numbers of the South African virus in the UK, this version is unlikely to overtake the current virus in the next few months. The government is keeping a very close watch on the virus and variants, and is thinking about preparations for a longer-term solution that includes the potential for variant vaccines in the autumn. For now, the message is that you should still take whichever vaccine you are offered. Vaccines will continue to develop over time to combat emerging variants, and you will be able to have an additional vaccination or boosters in the future in order to gain further protection.
It's important to note that even where a vaccine is less effective in preventing you from catching the infection, it is still expected to protect against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death. This is vitally important for reducing hospital admissions, protecting ourselves, our friends and family, and it's why we should all take the vaccine when it's offered to us.
Read more about vaccinations:
Find out more about vaccine safety
Comedian and presenter Adil Ray plus a wide range of famous faces from the black, Asian and minority ethnic community, talk about the Covid-19 vaccine and address some of people's key concerns.
A vaccine doesn’t eradicate the virus overnight but it does help protect millions from the effects of coronavirus. 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.
“It's a bit like a seat belt. It won't prevent you from having a crash but it makes it more likely you'll be OK if you do.”
@andykturner on Twitter – Acting Consultant in Public Health in Wirral | Health Policy Lead
Getting vaccinated: Essential information
How is the Covid-19 vaccine given?
The Covid-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It is advisable to wear a short-sleeved top when you attend your appointment. This saves time, so the NHS staff can see as many people as possible on the day.
The vaccine is given in two separate doses. After the first dose, you will be invited back to have your second dose 10-12 weeks later. This is to ensure the vaccine has the best possible chance of being effective.
The evidence shows that one dose of either vaccine provides a high level of protection from Covid-19. For both vaccines, the second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer term protection. Getting both doses remains really important, so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.
Are the Covid-19 vaccines safe?
Like all medicines, a vaccine must go through a rigorous testing and development process and be shown to meet strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness, before it can be given to the public. It’s reassuring to know over 67,000 people* were involved in the trial process before the vaccines were made available to us, the public, and at the date of writing over 9 million people have received the vaccine.
*Total number of participants in Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/ AstraZeneca trials
How do I get vaccinated?
People eligible for vaccination will be contacted with an invitation to make their appointment. The NHS is doing an amazing job rolling out the vaccine programme as efficiently and quickly as possible. It’s a huge task but it’s working well. The NHS will contact you to arrange an appointment for your first dose of the vaccine.
Quick tip: wear a short-sleeved top, to help keep the flow of people moving.
How will I know where to go?
When you receive your invitation, you'll be advised where to go and when. You might need to go to your local GP surgery or hospital, a pharmacy or a large-scale vaccination centre.
For information about your local sites, please click on the relevant Council logo on the home page of this website.
What if I want to go to my GP but have been told to go to a mass vaccination site?
If you do not want to or are unable to attend one of these mass vaccination sites, it will not affect your ability to get an appointment at a local site through your GP. Your GP will still offer you a local vaccination appointment.
Who will receive the vaccine and when?
The NHS is working tirelessly to offer vaccinations to the most vulnerable people as quickly as possible and is on track to reach the government’s target of vaccinating the top four cohorts by mid-February.
We know that if we can vaccinate these 4 groups of people quickly, we will save more lives:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health & social care workers
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over plus clinically extremely vulnerable people
If you are aged 70 or over and you haven't been vaccinated yet, please go online now to book your vaccination appointment, call 119 free of charge between 7am and 11pm, or contact your GP practice. Vaccinations are now being offered to people aged 65-69, as well as those who are clinically vulnerable. If this applies to you, please wait to be invited to book your vaccination appointment.
How do you make an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine?
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; most people will be invited by their 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. Remember to follow the guidelines of hands, face and space when attending your vaccination appointment.
Fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding
If you are trying to conceive, there is no evidence to suggest that the Covid-19 vaccines will affect your fertility. In its advice to women of childbearing age, the NHS says you do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby Covid-19. The government’s guidance also states there is no advice to avoid pregnancy after Covid-19 vaccination. This is supported by a statement from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives.
If you are pregnant, you can have the vaccine but the advice from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is to discuss this with your doctor or nurse.
The MHRA advises that Covid-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant, so it is possible for breastfeeding mothers to be vaccinated.
What happens after being vaccinated?
You should be able to resume activities that are normal for you, as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving.
Plan to attend your second vaccination appointment. You should have a record card and your next appointment should be between 10-12 weeks after the first vaccine. It is very important to have both doses of the same vaccine to give you the best protection.
Keep your record card safe and make sure you keep your next appointment to get your second dose.
For more help on what to expect after your vaccination, you will find handy information in English and multiple other languages, when you click on link below:
Whilst the vaccination will protect people from getting seriously ill from the coronavirus, people who have been vaccinated may still get infected and pass the virus on to others. Therefore, it is very important that people continue to follow government guidance such as hands, face and space.
What if I am not well on the date of my second appointment?
If you are unwell, it is better to wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine, but you should try to have it as soon as possible.
You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are:
- self-isolating due to testing positive
- self-isolating because you were in contact with someone who is infected with the coronavirus
- waiting for a Covid-19 test because you have symptoms
- unsure if you are fit and well
If you have any questions about the Covid-19 vaccination programme please visit our dedicated FAQ page
Vaccination: What you can do to help
We’re all in this together
The single most important thing everyone should do is stay at home (except for emergencies, critical roles or getting a test/vaccine) and follow the current national restrictions - by doing this, people will help stop the spread, protect the NHS and save lives.
The public can help with vaccination efforts by encouraging relatives, friends and neighbours aged 70 and over to attend their vaccination appointments.
For those who live with people getting their vaccinations, they can also support with transport to and from the vaccination sites.
It is essential strict social distancing is maintained at all times and people follow the hands, face, space rules.
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 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 email@example.com
- 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
Key facts to remember
- The COVID-19 vaccine will always be available free of charge
- The NHS will never ask you to share bank details to confirm your identity
- The vaccines are safe and highly effective
- Vaccination protects other people in your community by helping to stop diseases spreading to people who cannot have vaccines
- Stick to the rules on hands, face, space before and after vaccination
Useful leaflets, videos and other information
- Helpful vaccine guide for older adults in English and other languages
- British Sign Language video explaining the 'what, why and how' of the Covid-19 vaccination programme
- NHS frontline staff explain how the vaccine is given, why it works and why it's safe. Videos in 14 community languages.
- Covid-19 vaccinations guide from Churches Together in England
- The statement and position from The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) on Covid-19 vaccination
- BIMA's Covid-19 myth-buster (in English, Urdu and Arabic)
- BIMA's guide to fasting and the Covid-19 vaccination