COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs

Frequently asked Information about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Where can I get my vaccine from?

You will be contacted by the NHS when it is your turn and invited to book an appointment via the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119. You will be given the option of attending a local participating pharmacy or vaccination centre.  It’s really important that when you get your invitation, you take up the offer of having the vaccine, as you will be protecting yourself and friends and family around you.

Can I contact my GP to arrange a vaccination appointment ? 

We would encourage you, where possible to  use the national system and attend a vaccination centre. There are a wide range of local options for people who are due to be vaccinated next. But, if you are unable to attend you should be contact by your primary care team, it may just take a little longer.

I fall in to one of the first Cohorts – how can I get my vaccine?

If you are 50 years old or older or are in another eligible group and haven’t had your vaccine yet, it’s important you are vaccinated as soon as possible.  Please speak to a member of practice staff to book your appointment, contact the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119.

What about getting my second dose of the vaccine?

If you have already had one dose of the vaccine, you will be able to get your second dose using the same service as with your first.

 Where can I get more information about the vaccine?

You can find more information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme NHS.UK website.

The clinical risk groups for people aged 16 years of age or over who should receive COVID-19 immunisation are  below.

Chronic respiratory disease
Individuals with a severe lung condition, including those with asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including chronic bronchitis and emphysema; bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung fibrosis, pneumoconiosis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).

Chronic heart disease and vascular disease
Congenital heart disease, hypertension with cardiac complications, chronic heart failure, individuals requiring regular medication and/or follow-up for ischaemic heart disease. This includes individuals with atrial fibrillation, peripheral vascular disease or a history of venous thromboembolism.

Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5, chronic kidney failure, nephrotic syndrome, kidney transplantation.

Chronic liver disease
Cirrhosis, biliary atresia, chronic hepatitis.

Chronic neurological disease
Stroke, transient ischaemic attack (TIA). Conditions in which respiratory function may be compromised due to neurological disease (e.g. polio syndrome sufferers). This includes individuals with cerebral palsy, severe or profound learning disabilities, Down’s Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and related or similar conditions; or hereditary and degenerative disease of the nervous system or muscles; or severe neurological disability.

Diabetes mellitus
Any diabetes, including diet-controlled diabetes.

Immunosuppression
Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including patients undergoing chemotherapy leading to immunosuppression, patients undergoing radical radiotherapy, solid organ transplant recipients, bone marrow or stem cell transplant recipients, HIV infection at all stages, multiple myeloma or genetic disorders affecting the immune system (e.g. IRAK-4, NEMO, complement disorder, SCID).
Individuals who are receiving immunosuppressive or immunomodulating biological therapy including, but not limited to, anti-TNF, alemtuzumab, ofatumumab, rituximab, patients receiving protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors, and individuals treated with steroid sparing agents such as cyclophosphamide and mycophenolate mofetil.
Individuals treated with or likely to be treated with systemic steroids for more than a month at a dose equivalent to prednisolone at 20mg or more per day for adults.
Anyone with a history of haematological malignancy, including leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma and those with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis who may require long term immunosuppressive treatments.
Most of the more severely immunosuppressed individuals in this group should already be flagged as CEV. Individuals who are not yet on the CEV list but who are about to receive highly immunosuppressive interventions or those whose level of immunosuppression is about to increase may be therefore be offered vaccine alongside the CEV group, if therapy can be safely delayed or there is sufficient time (ideally two weeks) before therapy commences.
Some immunosuppressed patients may have a suboptimal immunological response to the vaccine (see Immunosuppression and HIV).

Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
This also includes conditions that may lead to splenic dysfunction, such as homozygous sickle cell disease, thalassemia major and coeliac syndrome.

Morbid obesity
Adults with a Body Mass Index ≥40 kg/m².

Severe mental illness
Individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment.

Adult carers
Those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.

Younger adults in long-stay nursing and residential care settings
Many younger adults in residential care settings will be eligible for vaccination because they fall into one of the clinical risk groups above (for example learning disabilities). Given the likely high risk of exposure in these settings, where a high proportion of the population would be considered eligible, vaccination of the whole resident population is recommended.
Younger residents in care homes for the elderly will be at high risk of exposure, and although they may be at lower risk of mortality than older residents should not be excluded from vaccination programmes.

 

This information was taken from the COVID-19 Greenbook chapter 14a which can be accessed here.

This also states that the examples above are not exhaustive, and, within these groups, the prescriber should apply clinical judgment to take into account the risk of COVID-19 exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 itself.  If you think you fall into one of these groups, but don’t see your specific illness or condition mentioned, our advice would be to talk to your GP who will apply their own clinical judgement.

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.

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 these vaccines are safe and highly effective, 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.

The MHRA recommend that those with severe allergies to the ingredients of the vaccines should not receive them.

Yes. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and so is within the rules wherever you live. Vaccinations will continue as normal. If you have booked or are offered an appointment, please attend it. The place that you choose to have your vaccine will keep you safe from COVID-19 through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting and having social distancing in waiting areas. Please also wear a face covering to your appointment. You should also take the usual steps to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.

Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you and may help to protect your family and those you care for.

The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.

The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed a longer timeframe between first and second doses so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection. This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.

We recognise for some people a longer wait might be worrying, and clinicians have the discretion to vaccinate people sooner if they think this is needed. Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its final advice which can be found here.

The NHS is currently offering the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.

People in the groups on the NHS website  can get the vaccine now. The vaccine will be offered more widely as soon as possible.

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.

The phase three study of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 95%, with consistent efficacy across age, gender and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan.

People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.

Yes, they should get vaccinated if they are in a priority group identified by JCVI. The MHRA have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t.

. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.

A detailed review of the vaccines and their ingredients have been provided by the MHRA and can be found at the following links:

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-covid-19

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

The British Islamic Medical Association have produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community which can be found at https://britishima.org/pfizer-biontech-covid19-vaccine/

There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-covid-19

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

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 at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.

Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them. A second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.

Everybody will also be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions, and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just like with any other vaccine.

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.

Very common side effects include:

  • Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • General aches, or mild flu like symptoms

As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.

The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu. If you have been offered a flu vaccine, please try to have this as soon as possible to help protect you, your family  and patients.

It is not essential to leave time between the flu and Covid vaccine but it is recommended that there should be a gap of a week.

We would always encourage anyone who is eligible but not yet taken up their flu jab to do so as soon as possible.

There is no evidence currently that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccines we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccines. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.

The vaccines that the NHS uses and in what circumstances will be decided by the MHRA. Both vaccines are classed as being very effective. The Oxford/AstraZeneca is easier to store and transport, meaning we can deliver them in more places, and we expect to have more doses available as they are manufactured in the UK, so we would expect that most people are likely to receive this vaccine over the coming weeks and months.

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.

No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS for the moment. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police online or by calling 112.

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.

People with history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccines should not be vaccinated.

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.

Although the vaccine was not tested on those with very serious immunological conditions, the vaccine has been proven to be very effective and it is unlikely that the vaccine will have no effect at all on these individuals.

There may be a very small number of people with very complex or severe immunological problems who can’t make any response at all – but the vaccine should not do any harm to these individuals. Individuals meeting these criteria may want to discuss the vaccine further with their specialist doctor.

We are aware that some people are receiving suspicious calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination.

To protect yourself and your family members from fraud and criminals, remember the following points.

  • The vaccine is only available on the NHS for free to people in priority groups, and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. Anyone offering a paid-for vaccine is committing a crime.
  • The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and never ask for payment or for your bank details.
  • If you need to be vaccinated at home you will always be contacted prior by your GP practice or health professional. They will not just turn up on your door step. Anyone offering this now is committing a crime.

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.

People are being offered vaccinations in line with recommendations from the independent JCVI.  The NHS are contacting people when it is their turn.  People will need an appointment to get their vaccine; most people will be invited by letter from their GP practice or the national programme.

If you or your family member are in one of the  current priority groups, they will be on our priority list and will get invited as soon as we have a vaccine for them over the coming weeks.

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