COVID-19 (Coronavirus) vaccines

Pages in COVID-19 (Coronavirus) vaccines

  1. COVID-19 vaccines
  2. Your questions answered
  1. Myth busting
  2. Vaccines: preventing the spread of false information

Your questions answered

Vaccine

Why are vaccines important?

Vaccines teach your immune system how to protect you from diseases. It's much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and attempting to treat them.
Vaccines can reduce or even eradicate some diseases, if enough people are vaccinated. Since vaccines were introduced, diseases like smallpox and polio that used to kill or disable millions of people are gone from the UK.
The long-term response to the pandemic requires a safe and effective vaccine to be available for all who need it. It’s a way to keep you, your friends and family safe, potentially leading to a lifting of restrictions.

Who will get the vaccine first?

The full prioritisation list for vaccines and is as follows (in order of priority): 

  1. Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers 
  2. All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers 
  3. All those 75 years of age and over 
  4. All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals 
  5. All those 65 years of age and over.
  6. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality 
  7. All those 60 years of age and over 
  8. All those 55 years of age and over 
  9. All those 50 years of age and over 

Can I still go for my vaccination if I have tested positive for COVID?

If you have had a positive COVID test you need to wait 28 days before you attend for a COVID vaccination.  This is 28 days either from the day you began to feel unwell with COVID symptoms or the day you had your test if you did not have any symptoms. 

Where/how are vaccines going to be administered?

Vaccination to at-risk groups will take place at the most appropriate settings to encourage uptake. This includes administering vaccination to at-risk individuals in their usual place of residence. The three models of delivery are:

  • Hospital Hubs - NHS providers vaccinating staff onsite. 
  • Local Vaccination Services – Community and primary care-led service based on local and logistical considerations but is likely to include GP practices, local authority sourced buildings or other local facilities, and potentially roving teams if vaccines are transportable in this way.  
  • Vaccination Centres - Large scale centres such as sports and conference venues set up for high volumes of people. 

What type of sites will give it out? Are they all large sites and what if I can’t get there?

No, the NHS has been working together with local partners to ensure that people are not disadvantaged because of where they live, whether they own a car or if they are able to get about. This is why the NHS has developed three different models of delivery. 

Who is going to be administering these vaccines?

Recruitment of workforce has focused on those who already have experience in handling vaccinations but may currently work outside of NHS settings, for example, independent nurses or allied health care professionals.

Is one easier to deliver? 

All vaccines will present different logistical requirements, but the NHS has been planning for all eventualities, and people should be assured that the vaccine they will be offered is available because it has been assessed and approved by experts as being safe and effective.

Can I choose which vaccine I receive?

As people have to complete a course of two vaccinations and the programme will be delivered in a phased approach to ensure those most at risk are vaccinated first, it is not possible to choose one vaccine over another.

Are there any precautions I need to take before or after I receive the vaccine?

You should follow existing advice to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as this will enable you to avoid becoming ill with COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses, before and after vaccination. Wear a face covering when attending the Vaccine Clinic.

Will the vaccine be compulsory?

The UK operates a system of informed consent for vaccinations. There are no plans in place to make the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory.

Now that we have a vaccine, can we end restrictions and lockdowns? 

  • An effective vaccine will be the best way to protect the most vulnerable from coronavirus and the biggest breakthrough since the pandemic began. A huge step forward in our fight against coronavirus, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives.
  • Once vaccinations begin, we will closely monitor the impact on individuals, on NHS pressures and on the spread of the virus. 
  • As large numbers of people from at-risk groups are given an effective vaccine, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths; if successful this should in time lead to a substantial reassessment of current restrictions 
  • The full impact on infection rates will not become clear until a large number of people have been vaccinated with two doses, but as larger numbers do get vaccinated, we will hopefully move further along the path back to a more normal way of life.  

Why are some patients receiving COVID-19 vaccination record cards?

When patients are vaccinated, they are likely to receive a vaccine record card that notes the date of their vaccination, the suggested date for their second dose and details of the vaccine type and batch.

Where else will the vaccination be recorded?

All vaccinations are recorded on the patient's record with their GP.

How will patients be invited for a vaccination?

  • When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.
  • We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter.

Can I still spread the virus to others if I am vaccinated?

The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent you from getting COVID-19 infection, this should reduce the chances of you being able to spread the infection by becoming ill. However, as the vaccine is new it has not yet been possible to establish if vaccination will prevent carriage of the virus in the nose and throat of people who have been vaccinated. More information will become available on this as these vaccinations are rolled out more widely and the impact on virus spread can be assessed. The best protection you can have is to have the vaccination when you are invited to attend and to continue to follow measures to reduce spread like social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene and face coverings where advised.

Will the vaccine fully protect me against COVID-19?

The current vaccines have demonstrated a high level of protection against COVID-19 but no vaccine provides 100% protection. However, as more people in the population are vaccinated with an effective vaccine the risks of circulating virus should decrease protecting those people who either do not respond fully to the vaccine or who are unable to have the vaccine because of allergic reactions.

I have a health condition. How will I be sure the vaccine is safe?

The vaccines currently available in the UK do not contain living organisms, and so are safe for people with disorders of the immune system. People who should not receive the vaccine include:

  • A confirmed anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A confirmed anaphylactic reaction to any components of the vaccine.
  • Current COVID-19 infection or history or COVID-19 infection within the last 4 weeks.
  • Severe illness and a high fever on the day of vaccination.

I’ve heard the COVID-19 vaccination can affect your chances of getting pregnant or cause infertility?

One concerning rumour that has caught people’s attention online is that the COVID-19 vaccine can have an impact on fertility. There is no evidence that the vaccine can impact fertility. It has been incorrectly suggested that COVID-19 vaccines will cause infertility because of a shared amino acid sequence in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and a placental protein. The sequence, however, is too short to plausibly give rise to autoimmunity.

What’s in the vaccines?

Patient leaflets explaining the different vaccines and ingredients will be developed and information made available to people prior to vaccination so they can make an informed decision.

Recipient information including ingredients for all of the approved vaccines:

Will they have any ingredients which are unsuitable for religious groups?

It is important that we all take steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the wider community by taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The British Islamic Medical Association made statements on the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines encouraging those eligible to get vaccinated at:
The MHRA has confirmed the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines do not contain any components of animal origin. None of the vaccines given contains fetal cells in their ingredients.

How vaccines are made and what human and animal products are used.

Are there any side effects?

  • Every single vaccine authorised for use in the UK has been authorised by the MHRA. The three components of authorisation are a safety assessment, an effectiveness assessment and a manufacturing quality assessment.
  • Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them.
  • These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use.
  • For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 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 over 43,000 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.

Some side effects may include:

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

All patients are given 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 Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

When was the first patient vaccinated?

The first Pfizer/BioNTech vaccinations took place on 8 December 2020 and the first AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines were given on 4 January 2021.

Can I catch Covid from the vaccines?

You cannot catch Covid from the vaccines. But it is possible to have caught Covid and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment. If you have any of the symptoms of Covid, stay at home and arrange to have a test. If you need more information on symptoms visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-COVID-19/symptoms/

What happens if there are leftover vaccines?

No vaccines should be wasted. The NHS have asked GPs to have care homes on ‘speed dial’ if there are any doses left over.

How long will the vaccines protect people for?

PHE will employ 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. It is likely to be some time until we have sufficient data to provide a clear picture of how long the protective effect of vaccination lasts.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain animal products?

The MHRA has confirmed that the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine do not contain any components of animal origin.

Can I do what I want after I have been vaccinated?

It is essential to follow the same rules as everyone else, even after vaccination. Stay at home if possible whether you had the vaccine or not.

This means it is important to:

  • Continue to follow social distancing guidance
  • Wearing a face mask and remembering hands, face, space.
  • Really importantly we do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission of the virus. So even after you have had both doses of the vaccine you may still give Covid to someone else and the chains of transmission will then continue.
  • If you change your behaviour you could still be spreading the virus, keeping the number of cases high and putting others at risk who also need their vaccine but are further down the queue.
  • We still have a very high number of hospitalisations and deaths. A quarter of hospital admissions for Covid-19 are in people under the age of 55. Despite the speed of the rollout, these are people who will not have the vaccine for a while yet.

Why is vaccination not recommended for children? 

Almost all children with COVID-19 have no symptoms or mild disease and the vaccines have not yet been tested in younger children. The Committee advises that only children at very high risk of catching the virus and serious illness, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities in residential care, should be offered vaccination. 

Is it true that people should not drink alcohol for a week before and a week after having the vaccination?

There is no evidence to indicate that drinking alcohol within the recommended weekly limits will have any impact on the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Is the vaccination safe for those who might have compromised immune systems / specific conditions such as thyroid/diabetes/rheumatoid arthritis?

The vaccines currently available in the UK do not contain living organisms, and so are safe for people with disorders of the immune system.

Will the vaccination have to be repeated annually as with flu?

The requirement for regular booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine is not yet recommended because the need for, and timing of, such boosters has not yet been determined.

Following the vaccination - can the person still be carrying the virus, if so, for how long?

The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent you from getting COVID-19 infection, this should reduce the chances of you being able to spread the infection by becoming ill. However, as the vaccine is new it has not yet been possible to establish if vaccination will prevent the carriage of the virus in the nose and throat of people who have been vaccinated. More information will become available on this as these vaccinations are rolled out more widely and the impact on virus spread can be assessed. The best protection you can have is to have the vaccination when you are invited to attend and to continue to follow measures to reduce spread like social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene and face coverings where advised.

Additional questions?

View questions and answers from NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

 

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