COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

(with new FAQs on younger people added 20 August 2021)

Vaccination safety

What is the Coronavirus vaccine?

  • The COVID-19 vaccination gives you good protection against Coronavirus.
  • 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.
  • The vaccine will reduce the chance of you suffering badly from COVID-19 disease but it may takes a week or two for your body to build up protection from the vaccine.

Is the Coronavirus vaccine safe?

  • The vaccines approved for use in the UK have been developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.
  • More recently, and after extensive assessment, the Moderna vaccine has also been approved for use in the UK and several million doses have been ordered ready for use.
  • The vaccines have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
  • Any vaccine that is approved must go through all the safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
  • Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
  • Millions of people have now been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare.

Reports of extremely rare blood clots

  • The MHRA is carrying out a detailed review of reports of an extremely rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • The problem can also happen in people who have not been vaccinated and it’s not yet clear why it affects some people.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. For people aged 40 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risk of clotting problems.
  • For people under 40 without other health conditions, it’s currently advised that it’s preferable to have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:
  • a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
  • a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
  • a headache that’s unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
  • a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Find out more about COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting on GOV.UK

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly and/or suitable for Muslim and Jewish people?

  • Yes, there are no meat derivatives or porcine products, including gelatine, in the Pfizer BioNtech or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
  • All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website. Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here. Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here. Moderna vaccine information is available here.
  • 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.

 Why should I have the vaccine?

  • You will need two doses of the vaccine to get the best long-term protection from the virus; however you will have a significant level of protection after you receive the first dose.
  • There is a chance you might still get or spread Coronavirus even if you have had the vaccine.
  • This means it is important to continue following national restrictions and social distancing guidance including wearing a face covering in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people.
  • Read more about why vaccines are safe and important, including how they work and what they contain.

Will the vaccines work with new strains of Coronavirus?

  • There is no evidence currently that new strains are resistant to the vaccines we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal.
  • Scientists are looking 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 if I have already had Coronavirus, do I still need the vaccine?

  • Yes, you will still be offered a vaccine as the protection from the Coronavirus infection is thought to be short lived.
  • Vaccination is recommended for all the identified groups whether you have been previously infected with Coronavirus or not.

Eligibility

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are available for:

Find out more about who can get a COVID-19 vaccine

Advice if you’re of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding

 Allergic reactions

  • Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
  • You should not have the vaccine if you’ve ever had a serious and/or immediate allergic reaction to:
  • a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine
  • any component (excipient) of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • immediate onset-anaphylaxis to multiple classes of drugs
  • an unexplained anaphylaxis

For information relating to blood clots please read the FAQ ‘Reports of extremely rare blood clots’ in the Vaccination Safety section above.

I am eligible for a vaccine but unable to attend the designated site in person due to mobility issues, what should I do?

  • If you are housebound and eligible for a vaccination you will be contacted to make an appointment where the roving vaccination teams visit you in your home to give you a jab.
  • Some community transport providers across South Yorkshire are offering a free return journey to a Covid-19 vaccination site to people in high priority groups, who cannot access public transport and have no alternative. The service will only transport you to and from sites in the Doncaster area. You may find this service helpful if you are struggling with transport to an appointment, to find out more please click here.

 The Vaccination Journey

How to get the COVID-19 vaccine

  • For adults aged 18+, you can book your vaccination appointments online or by free calling 119.
  • People aged 17 years and 9 months (3 months before their 18th birthday) may be vaccinated at a drop-in clinic.
  • All 16-and-17-year olds will be offered one jab dose of the vaccine, under the new guidance issued by the JCVI.
  • Eligible children aged between 12-15 years old will be invited for vaccinations by their local practice. The JCVI has recommended that children aged 12 and over who are at increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease should be vaccinated. This includes children with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities. They have also recommended that children aged 12 and over who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccination to help protect that person.

 How could I be contacted for a vaccination appointment?

  • You could be contacted by phone, letter, text or email.
  • Local practices across Doncaster are working together to contact eligible patients and book them in for appointments at one of the Primary Network Sites located in the Central, East, North and South of Doncaster.

Can I get one privately? 

  • No. Vaccinations are only available through the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a local practice 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 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.

How is the vaccine administered?

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm and you will need to have two separate doses approximately 8 weeks apart.

Why do I need a second dose of the vaccine?

  • The first vaccine is the prime vaccine dose, and the second one is a booster which offers optimal protection against the virus.
  • This means it is vitally important to continue to follow social distancing guidance and if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people and continue to wash your hands or use sanitizer regularly.

When will the 2nd dose will be given?

  • The latest evidence suggests the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides good protection. As a result of this evidence, you can have the second dose around 8 weeks after your first.
  • It is vital you continue to follow the latest Coronavirus advice and guidance after having the vaccine to ensure you stay well.

What if I’m waiting more than 8 weeks for my second dose?

  • Please attend a drop-in clinic to have your second dose given.
  • There is currently no evidence to suggest there will be any adverse effects of receiving a second dose more than 8 weeks after the first.
  • It is highly unlikely from the information we do have that immune protection will suddenly disappear if the second dose is delayed for a week or two.
  • In Doncaster we are continuing to offer and give people their first dose as they become eligible; and the programme of giving people their second dose is well underway.

I’ve lost the card I was given proving I’ve had a first dose – can I still get my second dose?

  • Yes, don’t worry. You can still attend for your second dose if you’ve lost or misplaced your card. We ill have the information we need on your medical record.

I have a vaccination appointment but someone in my household has Coronavirus. Can I still attend my appointment?

  • No. If you have to isolate due to Coronavirus symptoms or being a contact for someone else with the virus, you must follow government guidance and self-isolate.
  • You can reschedule your vaccine appointment and attend once you are out of isolation.
  • It’s really important that you do not visit a vaccination site if you have symptoms or could be carrying Coronavirus.

How long after having COVID-19 can I get a vaccination?

  • People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
  • You can have the vaccine 28 days after you had a positive test for COVID-19 or 28 days after your symptoms started, so you may need to wait.

 

Visiting a vaccination site

How long will each vaccine appointment take?

  • Your first vaccine appointment may be longer than the second as staff go through a pre-vaccine medical questionnaire with you about your health history which should take a few minutes.
  • The vaccine itself is very quick and will only take a minute.
  • After having the jabs you may be required to remain on site for 15 minutes to be monitored in case of any immediate side effects – which are extremely rare – and if you are driving.

 I struggle with mobility; can a carer accompany me to my appointment and will there be wheelchairs available?

  • You may bring a carer with you to your appointment if you need support. Sites have a limited number of wheelchairs available to use should you need one to help you move around the venue. Additionally, we have marshals on hand to assist you so please do let them know if you require support.

 What proof will I get that I have been vaccinated?

  • Both vaccinations will be registered on your digital medical record which you may be able to access via your local practice’s website if you are registered for online services.
  • Your Covid-19 vaccination record and COVID Pass will show in the NHS app.
  • You will be given a card confirming the date and venue of your first dose. Please keep this safe as you may need to produce it again when you have your second.

 What should I do if I am not well when it is my second dose 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 close to 8 weeks from your first dose.
  • 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.
  • Contact your local practice to discuss and rearrange your appointment as soon as possible.

 

After you’ve been vaccinated

Will the vaccine have side effects?

  • 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 side effects after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. Although you may get some protection from the first dose, it’s very important to have the second dose as it will give you the best protection possible against the virus.
  • Very common side effects include:
    • having a sore or tender spot in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine
    • feeling tired
    • headache (if you have a headache for more than 4 days please seek medical advice)
    • general aches, or mild flu like symptoms
  • Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for two to three days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection. You can rest and take a normal dose of paracetamol (follow the advice in the packaging) to help you feel better.
  • Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111
  • If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination (show them the vaccination card if possible) so that they can assess you properly.
  • You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme website. You can do this online or by downloading the Yellow Card app.

 Can I catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?

  • You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine as it does not contain the virus, but it is possible to have caught COVID-19 and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment.
  • The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any
  • of the following:
    • a new continuous cough
    • a high temperature
    • a loss of, or change in your normal sense of taste or smell
  • If you have the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test.
  • If you need more information on symptoms visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-COVID-19/symptoms.

Will the mRNA vaccine get into my own DNA or genetic material?

  • No. The mRNA vaccine (messenger RNA) tells your body how to create a protein that is found on the surface of the Coronavirus. Your own immune system is then able to recognise and produce antibodies against that protein, which means you are ready to fight off a COVID-19 infection; mRNA cannot infiltrate your own DNA.

 Do I have to follow Coronavirus guidance once I’ve been vaccinated?

  • Yes. Having the vaccine greatly reduces the risk of catching Coronavirus which is great news.
  • However, it may take a few weeks for the vaccine to get working in your system so it’s very important to follow guidance to ensure you don’t catch the virus whilst your body is still vulnerable.
  • Once you have immunity, your risk of catching the virus is greatly reduced but you could potentially still spread the infection to others which is why it’s very important to still wash your hands often, make space with others and wear a face covering if you can when in a busy area.

Young people aged 16 and over

My child is in one of the eligible groups. How do I arrange his/her vaccination?

If your child is in one of the new groups recommended for vaccination by the JCVI, you will be contacted by the NHS before then to arrange for your child’s vaccinations.

16 and 17 year olds are being contacted directly by letter, followed up by text messages from 20 August.

If your child is within three months of turning 18, they will be invited directly to book an appointment via the National Booking Service at the appropriate time and may also be invited via local vaccination services.

There is no need for individuals to approach their GP or other local NHS services before they receive a letter or text. Those age 16 to 17¾ will not be able to use the National Booking Service, although they can find a convenient walk-in site near to where they live at www.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab.

How do I know the vaccine is safe for my child?

The JCVI has reviewed extensive clinical evidence for the safety of giving the COVID-19 vaccine to children and young people in the eligible groups and have determined it to be safe and effective. The JCVI has determined that the benefit of vaccinating children in these groups outweighs the risks.

Which type of COVID-19 vaccination should 16-17 year olds be offered?

The Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine is the only vaccine authorised for those aged 16 and 17¾. At this time, JCVI advises that 16-17 year olds should be offered a first dose only. (alongside the existing offer of two doses of vaccine to 16 to 17 year olds who are in “at risk” groups).

 What about a second vaccine?

It is anticipated that a second dose will be offered later on, to increase the level of protection and contribute towards longer term protection. This will follow further work on effectiveness and safety in this age group, after which the JCVI will provide further guidance on whether a second vaccine dose should be offered to healthy 16 to 17 year-olds. This is expected to be made before second doses are due at approximately 12 weeks after the first dose.

Young people who are called as part of the 16-17 year old programme and receive their first dose above the age of 17 years and 40 weeks may be scheduled to receive their second dose after an interval of at least eight weeks, as part of the “turning 18 programme”.

 Are any children under 16 eligible for a vaccine?

As well as 16-18 year olds, the following groups of children and young people are also eligible, following previous JCVI advice:

  • 12-15-year olds ‘at risk’ with the underlying health conditions specified below:
  • severe neuro-disabilities,
  • Down’s Syndrome,
    • underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, and
    • those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register
  • Children aged 12 years and older without underlying medical conditions who are household contacts of individuals (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed.

My child is not in one of the eligible groups. When will they be able to be vaccinated?

There are no current plans to vaccinate children and young people outside of the eligible groups. However, the JCVI is continually reviewing evidence on this matter and will advise the Government if it decides that a change of approach is required.

Why is the NHS only vaccinating some children and young people against COVID-19, and not all?

The NHS vaccinates in line with guidance from the independent JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), which provides expert advice on vaccinations to UK health departments. The JCVI recommends that only certain groups of children and young people are vaccinated because of a combination of factors including their risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, passing it to others who may become seriously ill, and evidence of safety and effectiveness.

 

 

 

 

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