Vaccinations

Vaccinations: FAQ

When it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine, 2 is better than 1

The history of vaccines explained

Vaccines have saved millions, if not billions, of lives and have been available for hundreds of years since they were first developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner. Considered the founder of vaccinology, Jenner inoculated a 13 year-old-boy with vaccinia virus (cowpox) and demonstrated immunity to smallpox. In 1798, the first smallpox vaccine was developed. Over the 18th and 19th centuries, mass smallpox vaccinations led to its global eradication in 1979.

Another famous scientist, Louis Pasteur, spearheaded the development of the cholera and anthrax vaccines in 1897 and 1904 respectively. The Plague vaccine was also invented in the late 19th century. More recently, the Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination was developed and is still in use today. Then came the tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccines.

Vaccines protect

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 95 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

Why do we need vaccines for Covid-19?

There’s no question, vaccines are our ticket out of this pandemic. The coronavirus will go wherever it wants, targeting old and young, the healthy and the unwell, at home and at work. Its No.1 goal is to infect as many people as possible. It will likely change and mutate to keep spreading but we are monitoring it and are prepared to act now.

A vaccine doesn’t eradicate a virus overnight 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.

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a medicine that is used to prevent something from happening, rather than to treat something that has already happened.

Vaccines work to immunise people against a virus, a virus like the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.

Vaccines save millions of lives worldwide and are safer now than ever before. As with all prescription 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.

The only thing a vaccine can cause is immunity.

Why I got the vaccination despite my initial concerns

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.

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.

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.

Where can I find more information about the COVID-19 booster vaccination?

You can find out all the information you need on the Gov.UK website:  COVID-19 vaccination: a guide to booster vaccination – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Useful leaflets, videos and other information

For more information on the Covid-19 vaccinations, please see our FAQs:

Vaccinations: FAQ