When can I get the vaccine?
- An independent group of experts has recommended that the NHS first offers vaccines to those at highest risk of catching the disease and of suffering serious complications or dying from COVID-19. The phased vaccination programme will see people aged 80 and above among the first to receive the life-saving jab
- When it is the right time for you to receive your vaccination, you will receive an invitation to come forward. This may be via the phone, or through a letter either from your GP or the national booking system
- We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact us to get an appointment as you will not be able to get one until you are contacted
How will I know when I can get a vaccine?
- When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be a letter, either from their GP or the national NHS
- This letter will include all the information you will need to book appointments, including your NHS number. Please do not contact the NHS to get an appointment until you get this letter
- Information on the vaccine is available on the NHS.UK website
Where will the vaccine be administered?
- Since 8 December over 500 local vaccination services and nearly 80 hospital hubs have launched what is the largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS - at the same time as the whole of the health service has been dealing with the intensifying Covid pressures
- Over the coming weeks we will continue to build capacity across the system to offer more vaccinations with additional local vaccination services, hospital and vaccination centres coming on-line
What vaccines are currently available?
- Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are now available. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection and have been given regulatory approval by the MHRA
- The Government has in principle secured access to seven different vaccine candidates, across four different vaccine types, totalling over 357 million doses. This includes:
- 40 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
- 100m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
- 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is also being assessed by the MHRA.
How safe are the vaccines?
- 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, have said that both of 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
- 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.
How effective are the vaccines?
- The MHRA have 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 now advise that the second dose of both the OxfordAstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart
- 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 act on that and get yourself booked in as soon as possible. Even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance
What happens if a person has the first jab 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 now advise that the second dose of both the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine 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.
Can people choose what vaccine they receive?
Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while
What ingredients are in the vaccine?
What are the potential side effects?
- These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use
- For these vaccines, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the tens of thousands of people involved in trials
- 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 here
Can I pay for a COVID-19 vaccine privately or at a pharmacy?
No, the COVID-19 vaccination is only available through the NHS to eligible groups and it is a free vaccination
Is the vaccine mandatory?
There are no plans for a COVID-19 vaccine to be compulsory
Advice if you are of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding
The MHRA have updated their guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks
Anyone with a previous history of allergic reactions to the ingredients of the vaccine should not receive it, but those with any other allergies such as a food allergy can now have the vaccine