Last updated: 10 Feb 2021 1:49 pm

Most popular FAQs

 

Why haven't I been invited for a vaccination yet?

The NHS is prioritising vaccinating those people who experts have agreed will benefit from it the most. We will let you know when it is your turn to book your vaccination.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) (opens in a new window) has advised that the first priorities for any Covid-19 vaccination programme should be to minimise Covid-19 deaths and the protection of health and social care staff and systems. Current evidence strongly indicates that the single greatest risk of death from Covid-19 is increasing age and that the risk increases exponentially with age. With this in mind, the rollout to patients is based on age:

  • those aged over 80 years
  • those aged over 75 years
  • those aged over 70 years
  • adults on the NHS shielded patient list
  • those aged over 65 years
  • adults under 65 years with long term conditions.

The rollout of the vaccination is accelerating, and we expect the vaccine will be available to more people early in 2021. 

The public, and particularly our patient representatives, have an important part to play to help the NHS roll out the vaccination:

  • please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you;
  • when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments;
  • please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives.

In the meantime, you can get information about the Covid-19 vaccination online at nhs.uk/covidvaccination (opens in a new window).

Why are vaccines important?

Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill-health. They prevent up to 3 million deaths worldwide every year.

Since vaccines were introduced in the UK, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus that used to kill or disable millions of people are either gone or seen very rarely.

Other diseases like measles and diphtheria have been reduced by up to 99.9% since their vaccines were introduced.

However, if people stop having vaccines, it's possible for infectious diseases to quickly spread again.

What vaccine for Covid-19 is 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.
  • 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has been approved by the MHRA but is not expected to be delivered to the NHS until Spring.
  • 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, which has reported positive results from clinical trials but has not yet been approved by the MHRA.

Why are BAME groups not being prioritised?

There is clear evidence that certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups have higher rates of infection, and higher rates of serious disease and mortality. The reasons are multiple and complex.  

What is clear is that certain health conditions are associated with increased risk of serious disease, and these health conditions are often overrepresented in certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.  

Prioritisation of people with underlying health conditions will also provide for greater vaccination of BAME communities who are disproportionately affected by such health conditions.  

Tailored local implementation to promote good vaccine coverage in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups will be the most important factor within a vaccine programme in reducing health inequalities in these groups. 

The NHS will provide advice and information at every possible opportunity, including working closely with BAME communities, to support those receiving a vaccine and to anyone who has questions about the vaccination process.

Throughout the pandemic increasing attention has been given to reducing health inequalities and we have invested more than £4 million into research into Covid-19 and ethnic disparities so that we can go further.

What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?

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. For the Pfizer trial, participants included 9.6% black/African, 26.1% Hispanic/Latino and 3.4% Asian.  

Can I go back to work after having my vaccine?

Yes, you should be able to work 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.

The vaccine cannot give you Covid-19 infection, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. However, you will need to continue to follow the guidance in your workplace, including wearing the correct personal protection equipment and taking part in any screening programmes.

I'm currently ill with Covid-19, can I get the vaccine?

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

Do people who have already had Covid-19 get vaccinated?

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

Should people who have already had Covid get vaccinated? 

Yes, 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. 

Do I need to leave a space between having the flu vaccine and having the Covid vaccine?

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. 

Can people pick what vaccine they want? 

No. 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. 

If a household has a priority group member, such as an NHS frontline worker, or a vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?

These decisions are for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Their current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.  

How much does each vaccine cost the NHS?

The Government is securing vaccine stocks so they will not directly cost the NHS anything. 

If the two vaccines are proved safe and effective, will the NHS have capacity to deliver both vaccines from January 2021 onwards or will one have to be prioritised?

The NHS is already vaccinating priority cohorts – if we get stocks of more than one at the same time this will potentially allow us to go further and faster, but we are not there yet.

Is one better than the other?

The important point for any vaccine is whether the MHRA approves it for use – if it does then that means it’s a worthwhile vaccine to have and people should have it if they are eligible.  

How is the NHS delivering vaccines?

The NHS is offering vaccinations using three different models.

Hospital hubs where new vaccines can be used initially safely and where many in the top priority groups  - including heath and social care staff - have been able to get vaccinated on site.

Local Vaccination Services are primary care-led services delivered through GP practices, local authority sourced buildings or other local facilities, as well as roving teams for care homes and those who are housebound.  

Vaccination centres and community pharmacy sites provide additional vaccination capacity and are bookable by invitation through the national booking service. 

 

Who gets the vaccine first?

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its final advice on 30 December which can be found here (opens in a new window)

In line with this guidance, in this initial phase vaccines will be prioritised for those 80 years of age and over, those who live and work in care home, and frontline health and social care staff.

Our ambition, if supplies allow, is to have offered vaccines to the most vulnerable 13 million people by the middle of February.

 

Who is getting vaccinated now?

Vaccinations in England started on 8 December, with Margaret Keenan becoming the first person to be vaccinated in Coventry. 

In line with JCVI recommendations, the NHS has focused on rolling out vaccines to people aged 70 and over, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable, care home residents and staff, and frontline health and social care workers. 

Figures on the number of people vaccinated are published weekly and can be found here (opens in a new window.)

 

 

Can any member of the public be vaccinated? Can they just go to a mass vaccination site?

People will be offered vaccinations in line with recommendations from the independent JCVI.

 Anyone aged 70 and over or on the Shielded Patients List is now being urged to come forward and make an appointment for their first dose if they haven’t had it already. They can do this in two ways:

 The NHS will contact other people when it is their turn.  

People will need an appointment to get their vaccine. 

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine works by making a protein from the virus that is important for creating protection.  

The protein works in the same way they do for other vaccines by stimulating the immune system to make antibodies and cells to fight the infection. 

Why are you postponing second doses?

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 after two weeks – 89% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 74% for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.

Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

Can I get one privately? 

No. Vaccinations are only available through the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips. 

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 (opens in a new window) 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.

Does the NHS have capacity to deliver both vaccines or will one have to be prioritised? 

The NHS is delivering both vaccines in more than 1,500 locations across the country and will be able to deliver more doses as supplies allow.

Has the MHRA approved care home jabs?

Yes, this has been approved and the NHS has been working through the delivery mechanism to ensure we can safely break up batches, transport it and delier it in care homes. The roll out to care homes has not starterd and our ambition, if supplies allow, is to have offered vaccines to all residents, as part of the most vulnerable 13 million people, by the middle of February.  

How is the NHS ensuring that the vaccine won't be wasted? 

Our plans are based around ensuring that waste is minimised. For example, this includes clustering vaccinations in one GP practice or high volume sites, and ensuring that the numbers of people each facility is able to see in one week is in line with the stock they receive. 

Will vaccines still be provided/can I still attend my appointment during the national lockdown?

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 in all areas through the national lockdown and beyond. 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.

Should people who have already had Covid or are suffering from ‘Long Covid’ get vaccinated? 

Yes, 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, including those who have mild residual symptoms. Where people are suffering significant ongoing complications from Covid they should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine now with a clinician.

What is being done to encourage vaccine uptake in black, Asian, minority ethnic and other disproportionately affected communities/groups?

We understand that some communities have specific concerns and may be more hesitant in taking the vaccine than others. The NHS is working collaboratively with partners to ensure vaccine messages reaches as diverse an audience as possible and are tailored to meet their needs.

This includes engagement with community and faith-led groups, charities and other voluntary organisations.

Do vulnerable people travel to get the vaccine or does it come to them? 

We have taken a mixed approach to ensuring that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely. For care home residents and those who can’t leave home, this will involve roving community teams coming to them. 

How will patients be invited for a vaccination? How/when will they go for the second? Will this be at the same place/what happens if there is a delay in between?

When it is the right time people will be contacted to make their appointments. For most people they will receive a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number. Some services are currently also phoning and texting patients to invite them in. 

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted.  The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first. 

When you book your first dose you will also be asked to book your second too. For most people this will be within three months of your first dose. The UK Chief Medical Officers (opens in a new window) have agreed this longer timeframe so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose offers a high level of protection. Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

 

Will I still need to follow government guidance for lockdowns or tier restrictions, even if I have had my vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and 2 doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. No vaccine is completely effective and it will take a few weeks for your body to build up protection. You will need to follow the current government guidance for lockdowns or tier restrictions even if you have had your vaccine.

Can I have the vaccine if I’m pregnant?

Yes. 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.

Does the Covid-19 vaccine affect fertility?

There is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility. Most people who contract COVID-19 will develop antibody to the spike and there is no evidence of fertility problems after Covid-19 disease.

 

 

Will the vaccines work with the new strains?

There is no evidence currently that the new strains 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.  

What happens with leftover doses at the end of the day?

Vaccination services are under strict instructions to keep the number of wasted doses to an absolute minimum. Any spare vaccines due to missed or unfilled appointments, or the ability to draw additional full doses from a vial, should be used wherever possible.

This is primarily done through each service operating a reserve list of eligible people – including health and social care workers, but also members of the public in the JCVI priority groups currently being vaccinated – who can be called at short notice to receive a dose where otherwise it might be wasted.

Can I have the vaccine during Ramadan/does the vaccine invalidate fasting?

The British Islamic Medical Association have issued specific advice urging Muslims observing Ramadan not to delay getting the vaccine, drawing on analysis from Islamic scholars which says that injections for non-nutritional purposes do not invalidate the fast

Further information is available here.

How will patients be invited for a vaccination? How/when will they go for the second? Will this be at the same place/what happens if there is a delay in between?

When it is the right time people will be contacted to make their appointments. For most people they will receive a letter, text message or call either from their GP, a local hospital or the national booking system.

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted, unless they are aged 70 and over or on the Shielded Patient List, uin which case we are asking them to come forward now if they haven’t been vaccinated yet.  The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first. 

When you book your first dose you may be asked to book your second too. For most people this will be within three months of your first dose. The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed this longer timeframe so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose offers a high level of protection. Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

How will GPs be told who to vaccinate? 

The JCVI have set criteria for who should get the vaccine in order of priority. GPs, working together with their partners at a local level, will call in or go out to patients based on the prioritisation of the JCVI, using their patient records and those of neighbouring practices. A national invite and recall system, drawn from GP patient records, will also be used.