Coronavirus vaccine FAQs

Below are a series of Frequently Asked Questions to help you in making an informed decision about the Coronavirus vaccine.

Can I choose which vaccine I receive?
  • No. Patients cannot choose their vaccine. All vaccines currently in use – Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech – have been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). We do not share information with patients regarding which sites are using which vaccine.
  • If you are aged 39yrs and younger you will be preferentially offered either Pfizer or Moderna as an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine unless there is a strong clinical indication otherwise. This is based on guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) on 7 May 2021.
I am having problems with the NHS Coronavirus Vaccination Booking System
  • Please do not contact the CCG if you are experiencing problems with the
    National Booking System website
    e.g. cancelled appointments; lack of booking reference number. We are not responsible for this element of the vaccination programme roll-out.
    Please call 119 in all instances.
  • For patients registered with a GP you will be contacted by text or phone call.
  • You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or a pharmacy that provides COVID-19 vaccinations.
    Book your coronavirus vaccination appointments online
  • By letter, text or emailIf you’re invited to have your vaccination at a larger vaccination centre or at a pharmacy, you may get a letter with booking instructions.If you’re invited to have your vaccination at a local centre such as a hospital or GP surgery, you’ll usually get a text or email. You may sometimes get a letter.You can choose to go to a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy, or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service.If you have received a letter but not booked an appointmentYou may get a phone call from the NHS Immunisation Management Service. This call will be from 0300 561 0240.This will be a reminder to book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments. The person you speak to will see if you need any help and support.
I am a student and live away from home most of the year. How do I get my vaccination?
  • Please read these FAQs that address the queries and concerns of students.
Can children be vaccinated, especially those who have pre-existing clinical conditions?
  • The Pfizer vaccine is licenced for under 16yr olds but we are not routinely vaccinating anyone aged 17yrs and younger.
  • It is being offered to a very small number of 12-16yr olds with complex neurological conditions living in residential settings. Parents and carers with concerns are advised to discuss this with their paediatrician.
Can I have my second dose in a different place?
  • For those patients attending a local vaccination service, we ask patients to attend the same place for both their vaccination doses. If we can offer greater flexibility in future we will update our advice.If you book through the National Booking System you can choose a different location for your second dose.
I am moving to a different part of the country or to a different country but have had my first dose. Can I bring my second dose appointment forward?
  • We are not able to bring 2nd doses forward for reasons related to travel.
  • We are delivering 2nd doses to patients in all cohorts 8 weeks plus since date of the 1st dose.

Vaccination safety

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?
  • Yes. The NHS will not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until experts have confirmed they are safe.The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has said that the vaccines currently provided – Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneka – and the newly approved vaccine – Moderna – are very 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 they have been authorised and are being administered to the public.
Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?
  • To protect you and your family. Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you, your family, and those you care for and come into contact with.
  • If you’re a frontline worker in the NHS on in a care environment, it’s important you are vaccinated as you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
  • When we have had a COVID-19 vaccination this should reduce how seriously we are affected by the virus. This will reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services, and help to save lives.
Are there any side effects from being vaccinated against COVID-19?
  • Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. 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 reaction.
  • All patients will be given information on the vaccine they have had. This includes how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if you have a reaction. You can report suspected side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to ensure safe and effective use of the COVID-19 vaccines. It is important for people to report problems experienced with medicines as these are used to identify issues which might not have been previously known about. The MHRA will review the issue and if necessary, take action to minimise risk and maximise benefit to the patients.
  • 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.

Fertility, pregnancy, and the vaccines

Should I receive the vaccine if I am of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • There’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant. They do not affect fertility and there’s no need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.
  • If you’re pregnant, you will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. They have been more widely used during pregnancy in other countries and have not caused any safety issues. You will not be offered the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • You can have any of the COVID-19 vaccines if you’re breastfeeding. If you are 39 years or younger, you will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine as with all patients in this age group.
  • The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
  • Read the latest COVID-19 vaccine advice if you’re pregnant, may get pregnant or are breastfeeding on GOV.UK
What will happen if I get pregnant soon after being vaccinated?
Does the vaccine affect female fertility?
  • The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are aware that there has been some misinformation circulating about the impact of Covid-19 vaccines on fertility. They have made a statement available on the RCOG website
Does the vaccine affect male fertility?
  • The British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists has said there is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men. People of reproductive age are advised to have the vaccine when they receive their invitation for vaccination.

Existing health conditions and the vaccines

I’ve had my flu vaccine, do I need a coronavirus vaccine?
  • The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19.
  • As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but they should be separated by at least a week.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me from 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.
I'm not feeling well. Should I still go for my coronavirus vaccine appointment?
  • If you are unwell, it is better to wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine, but you should try to have it as soon as possible.
  • 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.
I have recovered from coronavirus. Am I still able to have a vaccine?
  • Yes. You can attend your appointment if you feel well and are not experiencing any significant ongoing symptoms.
  • You must not attend your appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a COVID-19 test, or unsure if you are fully recovered.
I am currently COVID positive, can I still be vaccinated?
  • Your vaccination should be delayed until you’re feeling better and by at least four weeks after your symptoms started or your positive test result if you don’t have symptoms.
Should I get the vaccine if I am suffering from ‘Long Covid’?
  • Yes, the MHRA has said that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have had COVID-19 as it is for those who haven’t.
  • If you are suffering significant ongoing complications from COVID-19 you should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine with a doctor.
Can I be vaccinated whilst I am isolating after showing symptoms?
  • You cannot book or attend an appointment whilst you are self-isolating and you must wait until you have completed your isolation period. Once you have completed your isolation period and are no longer showing symptoms, please call back to book your vaccination appointment.
  • You must not book or attend a vaccine appointment if you are waiting for a COVID-19 test or unsure if you are fully recovered.
I am on a blood thinner, can I still be vaccinated?
  • Blood thinners such as aspirin and clopidogrel should present no additional problems other than you may get some bruising.
  • If you normally have vaccinations without difficulty, then COVID vaccines should present no additional problems.
I have an illness that compromises my immune system – should I have a vaccination?
  • You should speak to your hospital consultant who will be able to advise on your ability or need for vaccination.
I'm not in a priority group but I am going to be (e.g. you’re on a transplant list / due to start chemotherapy for cancer). What should I do about having a vaccination?
  • Contact your hospital consultant who will be able to advise on your need for vaccination ahead of any planned therapy.
I have allergies. Is it safe for me to have a vaccine?
  • In the first instance please talk with your GP to clarify your medical and allergy history. They may be able to give you a definitive answer on whether to have a vaccination and can refer you to the Covid Allergy Service for specialist review and advice.
  • If you still have concerns/ questions then you should attend your vaccine appointment and talk it through with the clinician consenting you. If they are in any doubt they can arrange to refer you to the Covid Allergy Service for more detailed advice. This may take a little while to arrange.
  • You should not have a vaccination if you are allergic to its active substance or any of the other ingredients.
  • You should not have a vaccination 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.
  • Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction when you are vaccinated, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccines are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
  • You can report any suspected side effect using the
    Coronavirus Yellow Card safety scheme
I take medication. Is it safe for me to have the vaccination?
  • You might take medication and want to know if it’s still safe for you to have the vaccine.
  • The medication might be to treat mental illness or another medical condition.
  • Public Health England say there are very few individuals who can’t have a vaccine for COVID-19. But if you want to know if it’s still safe for you to have the vaccine you can speak to your GP.
  • Before you have the vaccine, you should be asked questions about any medication you take and any medical conditions you have.
  • Make sure you tell the professional who is going to give you the vaccine this information. It will help you to write down what medications you’re taking before your vaccine appointment.
  • There’s further information on the
    ‘Rethink mental illness’ website on COVID-19 vaccine and people living with severe mental illness.

The vaccines and suitability

Do the vaccines contain animal products?
  • No, the approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg. The COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are available on the GOV.UK website.
Are the vaccines vegan/vegetarian friendly?
  • Yes, neither vaccine contains meat derivatives or porcine products.
  • If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs.
Are the vaccines suitable for our BAME communities?
  • Yes –the vaccines have been tested on people from lots of different ethnic backgrounds and there are no safety concerns related to ethnicity.
  • The rate of COVID infections and deaths has been disproportionately high amongst some of our BAME communities. We want to make sure that all families are protected.
  • We hope this
    YouTube video
    can help dispel some of the myths and offer some encouragement for everyone to take the vaccine.

How effective are the vaccines?

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?
  • The 1st dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the two doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
  • There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have been vaccinated but the chance of serious illness is lowered. This means it is important to continue to follow social distancing guidance and wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people.
How long do the COVID-19 vaccines take to become effective?
  • The MHRA has said these vaccines are highly effective within two to three weeks even with just the first dose.
  • To get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is really important. Full protection begins around a week or two after the second dose, which is why it’s also important that when you do get invited, you get yourself booked in as soon as possible.
  • There is a small chance you might still get coronavirus even after you’ve been vaccinated. This means it is important to follow government guidelines, continue to socially distance and wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people.
How do the vaccines work?
  • The vaccines train your immune system to be able to quickly recognise and clear the coronavirus if you catch it in the future.
Do the vaccines work with the new strain?
  • Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often develop into different strains. These small variations rarely make vaccines completely ineffective.
  • There is no evidence currently that the new COVID-19 strains are completely resistant to the vaccines we have. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccines.
Which vaccine is better/more effective?
  • Both Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca are very effective vaccines, as is Moderna vaccine which will be available shortly. It’s not as simple as saying one vaccine is better than the other. An effective vaccine will save lives and reduce hospitalisations.
  • All vaccines have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy.
When will you know if the vaccines prevent transmission and how long they protect us from the virus?
  • Public Health England will monitor how effective the vaccine is at protecting the public. They will look at a range of outcomes including: infection, symptomatic disease, hospitalisations, death rates, and patterns of how the virus is spreading.
  • It is likely to be some time until we have sufficient data to provide a clear picture of how vaccination affects transmission and how long protection lasts.
If you're given one type of vaccine does that mean you have to stick with that vaccine forever?
  • Currently, the guidance is not to mix 1st
    and 2nddose vaccines. Booster doses are currently under review and include consideration of a different vaccine being given for boosters.
  • The vaccines people are offered will be appropriate for them. This decision is based on clinical judgement supported by the advice of JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation). This will take into account individual vaccine characteristics, which may mean they are more suitable for some groups of people, and not others – for example, some may be less well tolerated or effective in certain age groups.
How were the COVID-19 vaccines developed so fast?
  • Vaccine technology and the technological approaches to making vaccines are getting better and better and we couldn’t have done it in this timeframe if we went back to the 2009 pandemic and we had a new virus about which we knew very little. We’re in a different place today because of the technology.
  • It was very clear that it was a global public health emergency from the word go and governments were prepared to put in lots of funding to manufacturers, without any guarantee of success, but hoping that they would find a solution
  • But the vaccine trials have been just the same as normal vaccine trials. Phase one, phase two and phase three. Where time has been saved is by recruiting participants in advance, so at the moment the study protocol is in place, the Ethics Committee is in place, so are the vaccine trial participants – which speeds up the process. And that happened at phase one, phase two and phase three and therefore things ran very fast.

Help with your vaccination appointment

I don't have transport to get to my vaccination appointment. What should I do?
I am housebound - how do I get the vaccine?
  • Your GP practice should know that you are housebound. They are working with local groups who are delivering the vaccine to housebound patients to make sure that everyone is contacted and appointments are made. Please make sure your contact details are up to date with your GP practice.
Can I bring someone to my appointment?
  • At the moment, if you need to bring someone along to your appointment then you can. However, to slow the spread of the virus we want to minimise how many people enter the site, so please only do this if it’s absolutely essential.
  • For instance, if you come by car, the person you come with should wait for you in the car.
  • It can de difficult having young children and infants at vaccination sites. If you can arrange child care that would be very welcome.
I am hard of hearing / I am deaf - can I access an interpreter at the vaccination centre?
  • Virtual interpretation services are available at all of our vaccination centres.When you arrive at the centre, you can make it known at reception that need an interpreter. The reception staff will provide you with a mobile device (tablet/iPad) that links to our interpretation service. Volunteers at the centres will be able to help you with this.
I don't speak English very well. Can I get help with interpretation at the vaccination centre?
  • Virtual interpretation services are available at all of our vaccination centres.When you arrive at the centre, you can make it known at reception that need an interpreter. The reception staff will provide you with a mobile device (tablet/iPad) that links to our interpretation service. Volunteers at the centres will be able to help you with this.
Do I need to complete any forms at the vaccination centre?
  • No – all necessary information is already available through our IT computer systems. You do not need to bring a pen or write on any forms to receive your vaccination.

Attending your vaccination appointment

What do I need to bring to my appointment?
  • You’ll need to bring:o A face covering, unless you cannot wear one for an age, health or disability reason.o Your booking reference number.o If you are a health or social care worker, eligible because of your workplace, you will need to bring proof of your work identity such as a work ID card, wage slip or official letter from your employer.
What happens at my appointment and how long will it take?
  • Your appointment should last about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • It is important that you attend as close to your given arrival time as possible. Turning up early can make it more difficult for staff to ensure social distancing and may mean you need to queue for longer.
  • You will be asked if you need any assistance.
  • You’ll be asked some questions about your medical history.
  • It’s important to tell the staff if you have ever had an allergic reaction to medicines, vaccines or food.
  • If your appointment is at a vaccination centre, you’ll be asked for your booking reference numbers.
  • You will then be given an injection of the vaccine into an upper arm of your choice.
  • You do not need to complete any forms/anything in writing.
What happens after I've had my injection?
  • You may be asked to wait for at least 15 minutes after having your injection. This is in the unlikely event you have a serious reaction.
  • Research has found it’s very rare to have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccines. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes. The team is trained and equipped to deal with reactions and treat them immediately.
  • You will be given a leaflet describing common side effects that can happen to take away with you.
Is there a risk of catching COVID-19 at my vaccination centre?
  • All our centres are using appropriate measures to keep everyone safe, including social distancing, regular cleaning of surfaces, and PPE.
  • Please wear a face covering to your appointment, unless you are exempt.
  • You should also take the usual steps to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.
  • Please do not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating; if you are waiting for a COVID-19 test, or if you are unsure if you are fit and well to keep other people and the vaccination teams safe. You will either be contacted again to book your appointment or you can cancel and rebook if you have used the National Booking System.

After your vaccination appointment

Will I be protected from the virus straight after my first vaccination?
  • No. For both vaccines you get the vast majority of your protection from two weeks after the first dose. It is therefore extremely important that you continue to adhere to all current rules to minimise infection.
Can I go back to work the same day as my vaccination appointment?
  • Yes, you should be able to work after your injection as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find it difficult lifting heavy objects. If you feel unwell or very tired, you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving.
When will I receive my second dose?
  • All cohorts will now receive their 2nd dose at 8 weeks after their 1st dose.
  • The organisation that gave you your first vaccination are responsible for ensuring you are contacted to receive your second dose.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination status for travelling abroad