Last updated: 10 Feb 2021 1:37 pm

Vaccine safety and efficiency

Are there any known or anticipated side effects?

These are important details that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) always considers when assessing candidate vaccines for use.  

For this 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 more than 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. 

More information on possible side effects can be found here (opens in a new window)

How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?

You are required to have two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, 12 weeks apart. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of vaccine.

 

 

I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the Covid-19 vaccine as well?

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.

Will the Covid-19 vaccine protect me from the flu?

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 from flu this winter.

Will the vaccine work with the new strain?

There is no evidence currently that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccine 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 vaccine. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective. 

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.  

How will you monitor safety? Are we using the yellow card system?

As will all vaccinations and medicines, patient safety is the NHS number one priority. Public Health England have robust systems in place to monitor surveillance and will be following incident reporting protocols in the usual way.   

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe? 

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.    

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

Has the vaccine been “rushed through”? How do we know it’s safe?

The global crisis that is Covid 19 has meant that we have been able to recruit patients to be involved in testing the vaccine much more quickly than would normally be the case.

Scientists had already been working on vaccines against the SARS group of viruses, of which Covid-19 is just one, for many years, so we were not starting from nothing

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that has been approved for use in the UK has met very strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 

None of the other vaccines under development will be available to the NHS until they have passed those same strict standards, which apply to every vaccine the NHS uses.

So far, thousands of people have been given a Covid-19 vaccine, and reports of serious side effects like allergic reactions have been very rare.

You should not have the vaccine if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction to medicines, vaccines or food.

How effective is the Covid-19 vaccine?

This is all included in the information published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and Public Health England will also be publishing more resources for patients and professionals. People can be assured the NHS will ensure that they have all the necessary information on those vaccines that are approved by the MHRA before they attend for their vaccination. 

Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?

Yes. The NHS would not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has made this decision, 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.

How long will my vaccine be effective for?

We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer. This will be constantly monitored. 

How effective are the vaccines?  How long do they take to work?

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.