There are three Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK. These vaccines have been confirmed as safe and effective at providing protection against the current strain of coronavirus. The NHS is currently offering these vaccines to those most at risk from coronavirus. In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger, regional, vaccination centres.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that the NHS offers these vaccines first to those at highest risk of catching the infection (such as healthcare and social care workers), and those who are likely to suffer serious complications if they catch the infection (such as the elderly or those with certain medical conditions. When more vaccines become available, they will then be offered to the wider population.
The vaccine is safe for the vast majority of people. There are a very small number of people who are at risk of Covid-19 who cannot have the vaccine. These include:
There are other people who need to speak to their doctor before taking the vaccine. This includes people who have had allergies to previous vaccines or injectable medicines.
There are some people who need a longer period of observation (30 minutes) following receiving their vaccine. This includes people who have had severe allergic reactions to other medication (including antibiotics).
Yes. The vaccines currently in use are safe for people who have medical problems or take medication, which affect the immune system. The vaccines do not contain Covid-19, so there is no risk of catching Covid-19 from them.
The vaccines are recommended by health officials and provide the best protection against the coronavirus disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine, but studies have shown the vaccine to be effective with little safety concerns. However, as with all medicines, no vaccine works 100% of the time in 100% of patients – some people may still get Covid-19 despite having the vaccine. Vaccines aim to protect most people who are at risk of the disease. In 2018 PHE estimated that the normal flu jab was on average only 15% effective.
Getting the Covid-19 vaccination as soon as you are offered one will protect you and those around you.
The Covid-19 vaccines are free and are currently only available through the NHS to eligible groups. The government has shared guidance on the importance of vaccinating people who are most at risk and why a private Covid vaccine is not available.
If you are currently unwell and experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, it is advised that you do not receive the vaccine until four weeks after the date you tested positive.
If you are advised to get the vaccine, you can still benefit, even if you have had Covid-19 before, even if you only suffered from mild symptoms. If you have recently tested positive for coronavirus – even if you have no symptoms – you should wait until 4 weeks after the date you were tested before getting the vaccine. You can still benefit from the vaccine, but you may wish to delay your vaccine by a few months to allow someone else to use it, as you may have some protection from your previous infection.
Several different types of potential vaccines for Covid-19 are in development and are all designed to teach the body’s immune system to safely recognise and destroy the Covid-19 virus.
The different types of Covid-19vaccine include:
It is currently unknown as to whether the vaccine will prevent infection and protect against onward transmission. We will know that only after several months of observing Covid-19 infections. Immunity against the virus following the vaccine persists for several months, but the full duration is not yet known.
The NHS will let you know when it is your turn to have the vaccine - this will be in the form of a letter inviting you to book an appointment online. It is important not to contact the NHS for vaccination before then. You cannot buy a private Covid vaccine.
The vaccine involves an injection into the upper arm. Most require a second dose, which is given up to 12 weeks after the first dose.
No. You will not be given a choice of vaccine. Recommendations on which groups get the vaccine are made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunology (JCVI).
The second dose of the vaccine will be the same type as the first dose of the vaccine.
Private coronavirus vaccinations are not available in the UK. The NHS is the only provider of Covid-19 vaccines. There are no plans to expand the NHS vaccination programme to the private sector at this time.
There are no animal products or animal-derived products in the current Covid-19 vaccines.
British Islamic Medical Association
confirms that there are no animal products in the current Covid vaccines,
and whilst there is ethanol in the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, it is only as an
excipient, and in very small volumes, less than is found naturally in a
The BBC has produced videos discussing the vaccines being halal.
The British Islamic Muslim Association states that the current, injected, vaccines do not invalidate the fast, so you can receive them during Ramadan.
Yes, long-Covid is believed to be the body’s response to a previous Covid-19 infection. As long as you don’t have current Covid-19 infection, you can safely have the vaccine.
The vaccines are reported to be safe and effective, giving you the best protection against the coronavirus disease. The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the MHRA.
There are two categories of investigations before a vaccine is rolled out to the general population: trials and approval by regulators.
The trials normally take years as after each stage the results are presented at conferences in order to secure funding before the next stage. At each stage, there is also extensive analysis to ensure that there is a need for the drug to be developed and marketed. Also, the trials can have difficulty recruiting volunteers and ensuring enough people take part in the trials. However, with the Covid-19 vaccines, there was a worldwide effort to provide all the necessary resources to ensure the trials could take place, so the administration time was significantly reduced. The trials themselves went ahead on very large scales.
The regulation of medications will normally take place after all the trials have been completed, which can be a slow process. But with the Covid-19 vaccinations, especially in the UK, the regulators started to analyse the data as soon as it was available; so that by the time all the trials were completed, most of the investigatory work had been completed.
It is reported that the Oxford vaccine has a short-term efficacy of 73% after one dose, and longer-term protection of around 70% after two doses.
Data on the Covid-19 variant first identified in Kent, England does not suggest that the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines will be less effective against it. There are some concerns that this is less effective against the South African variant.
According to data released by Pfizer in December 2020, the vaccine is 52% effective after the first dose. Following the second dose, the vaccine becomes 95% effective at preventing the disease after 7 days.
The Moderna vaccine has been shown to have an efficacy of approximately 92% starting 14 days after the first dose. There are some concerns with all vaccines that they are less effective against the South African variant.
Based on the evidence so far, the new strains of coronavirus including the UK/Kent/B.1.1.7 variant and the South African/501Y.V2 variant, does not alter the effectiveness of the Moderna mRNA vaccine. However, the monitoring, collection and analysis of data on new variants and their impact on the effectiveness of Covid-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines is ongoing.
The Novavax vaccine has been shown to be 89% effective in large-scale UK trials and is around 86% effective at protecting against the new UK variant. The vaccine has been reported to work in a slightly different way to the Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines - but does the same job of teaching the body's immune system to recognise and fight coronavirus. The vaccine is expected to be delivered in the second half of the year (2021) if approved for use by the MHRA. Reassuringly it is believed to be 60% effective against the South African variant.
The single-dose vaccine has shown to be 66% effective against Covid-19. As it is a single-dose vaccine and doesn’t need to be frozen, it is hoped this will make it more accessible to countries with less well-developed healthcare systems. South Africa is the first country to use this, partly due to its efficacy against the South African variant, 85% in preventing severe disease; 57% against mild to moderate illness. Its efficacy against the UK variant appears to be good but is under review.
Long-Covid is a subject of increasing debate. The vaccine can only help to reduce your risk of Covid-19. If you are infected with Covid-19 following being vaccinated, your risk of illness is reduced. As yet, we don’t know what effect that will have in the longer term.
It is vital that you plan the second appointment for your second dose of the vaccine. You should have a record card which states that your next appointment should be between 3-12 weeks following your first vaccine.
If you are unwell, it is best to wait until you have recovered to have your second vaccine. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a Covid-19 test or unsure if you are fit and well.
No vaccines are 100% effective. Like any other vaccine, it is possible to have caught Covid-19 and not realise you have the virus until after your vaccination appointment. Therefore, it is still important to continue to follow national guidelines including social distancing and wearing a face-covering in places where it is hard to keep your distance from others.
Most side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week. However, you may experience:
If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection. If you have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Medical staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately. You should not have the vaccine if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction to a previous vaccine, a previous dose of the same Covid-19 vaccine, some medicines, household products or cosmetics. If your symptoms get worse, you should call 111 for advice or refer to your GP.
Currently, there is no evidence that states that the Covid-19 vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant. For further information, please discuss this with your GP to ensure the benefits outweigh any potential risks.
We are hoping that the Covid-19 vaccines will produce a strong, long-term, adaptive immune response. However, we will know more with time, as we see how the body maintains its immune defences and how the virus mutates.
You should be able to resume activities that are normal for you as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired, you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving.
You will need to continue to follow your workplace guidelines which include wearing the correct personal protection equipment and taking part in any screening programmes. However, it is expected that you should be able to work as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult, and if you happen to feel unwell or very tired, you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving to and from work.
It is advised that individuals should follow national guidelines and refrain from non-essential travel, even after having received a Covid-19 vaccine.
A vaccinated person may still be able to spread the virus, even if they are not showing symptoms. In order to stay in line with national guidelines, to protect yourself and those around you, face coverings must be worn in public where required. This guidance may change in future.
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