When it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine, 2 is better than 1
Latest News: 14 September 2021
The Health and Social Care Secretary has announced that young people in England aged 12 to 15 will be offered a single dose of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid vaccine, following unanimous advice from the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers. Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by vaccination healthcare staff prior to vaccination in line with existing school vaccination programmes. Read more here.
The Health Secretary has announced that the government will accept the recommendations of the JCVI to roll out a booster programme for people over 50 this autumn. The NHS in England expects this to begin from 20 September, and it will contact people to invite them to book their appointment at the appropriate time (six months after their second jab). Read more here.
Not jabbed yet? Find a walk-in clinic near you. No appointment needed. If you live in Bracknell Forest, Slough or Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, you can simply pop into a walk-in vaccination clinic. No appointment needed. Find your nearest clinic here.
From Monday 16 August, people aged 18 and 6 months or under, and people who are double vaccinated, who have been identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case, will no longer be legally required to self-isolate unless they work in Health and Social care. Instead of self-isolating, close contacts are advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible. More information is available here.
Health and Social Care workers are required to take a PCR test immediately. Where the PCR result is negative and they undertake daily lateral flow testing, may they return to work subject to a risk assessment. Full details can be accessed here.
Young people aged 16 and 17 are now eligible to receive a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTec Covid-19 vaccination. You will be contacted by the NHS when it’s your turn to get the vaccine. You cannot book your appointment online, although some walk-in vaccination sites are offering vaccines to people aged 16 and 17. Find out more here.
Anyone aged 18 or over can book their vaccination appointment now. If you are eligible, you can book 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.
From 11 November 2021 all care home workers, and anyone entering a care home, will need to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt under the regulations. The new legislation is designed to ensure that care homes are as safe as possible for the staff working in them and the people they care for. The last date for care home workers to get their first dose so they are fully vaccinated by the time regulations come into force is 16 September. Find out more here.
Fully vaccinated passengers returning from amber list countries do not have to quarantine. Find the latest guidance here.
Frontline health and care staff can work rather than self-isolate. From 19 July, double-vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff in England who have been told to self-isolate will be permitted to attend work in exceptional circumstances, with self-isolation being replaced by testing measures. Read more here
Why I got the vaccination despite my initial concerns
A vaccine doesn’t eradicate the virus 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. To date over 92 million Covid-19 vaccinations have been given to people in the UK: that many people can’t be wrong.
“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
“Without high uptake across our communities, our lives, and those of our loved ones, will remain at high risk from this devastating virus.” Gov.uk vaccine uptake plan.
Read more about vaccinations:
Are the Covid-19 vaccines safe?
Yes, they are safe. Like all medicines, a vaccine must go through a rigorous testing and development process and meet strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness before it can be given to the public. It’s reassuring to know that over 67,000 people* were involved in the trial process before the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were made available to us, the public.
* Total number of participants in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca trials
NHS frontline staff explain how the vaccine is given, why it works and why it’s safe. Please click here to view the collection of video stories in 14 different languages.
How were the Covid-19 vaccines developed so quickly?
Several key factors combined:
- The race was on to develop a safe, effective vaccine to protect people from Covid-19
- Incredibly urgent need to find a medicine to target rapidly spreading disease meant the medical world joined forces on a common goal
- Barriers were lifted, obstacles removed and funding provided in record time
- Huge advances had already been made in vaccine technology and how to make them, so there was science to build on rather than starting from scratch
- The result: safe, effective vaccines were developed in record time, and in line with all the required safety and effectiveness checks at every stage
Was the approved regulatory process for new medicines followed?
Yes, the strict regulatory process was followed to the letter, just as with any other vaccine. The difference was that, thanks to everyone working together, it was done at record speed.
It wouldn’t have happened if the manufacturers hadn’t been prepared to take the risk, and if they hadn’t looked ahead and recruited trial participants in advance. The number of people in the trials was the same as you would expect for any other vaccine. And the safety and effectiveness assessments were the same too.
Without all these factors – the speed, the planning and the collaboration – we would not now have vaccines to protect us against the effects of coronavrius.
Will the vaccine affect my fertility?
No. There is no evidence to suggest that the Covid-19 vaccines will affect your fertility, or adversely affect anyone having fertility treatment. Read the statement from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives here.
Should I avoid pregnancy after the vaccination?
No. 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 having the Covid-19 vaccination.
Can I have the vaccine if I’m pregnant?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.
Read the government’s guidance for women who are of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding.
Can I be vaccinated if I’m breastfeeding?
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.
Fertility, pregnancy and the Covid-19 vaccine
In this video, Dr Fatima Husain, a consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and fertility specialist, talks about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy, and whether it affects fertility.
Is there any meat or porcine content in the vaccines?
No. There is no material of animal origin (including porcine content) in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s (the official UK regulator) website.
Information on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on the government’s website.
Information on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on the government’s website.
Information on the Moderna vaccine on the government’s website.
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 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week and usually, if they do occur, it’s just within 24-48hrs, such as:
- 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.
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.
Where can I find a vaccination centre near me?
When you book your vaccination you will be able to select from a list of centres close to where you live.
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.
Protect yourself, your loved ones and your community
The vaccine protects you from the effects of the virus but it is not a cure and research is ongoing into the reduction in transmission once vaccinated. This is why it is so important to follow government guidelines.
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