COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

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. No long-term complications have been reported.
  • Millions of others have also now received their second dose after the 12 week recommended interval after the first.

 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?

The NHS has been offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus and by age group, which started with the over 80s. In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time.

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK.

The Government has stated it wants everyone in England to have received the vaccination by 31 July 2021.

 

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

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

You can book your vaccination appointments online or by free calling 119 if any of the following apply:

  • you are in the age group or priority currently being invited for your vaccine
  • you have previously received a letter saying you are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • you are a frontline health or social care worker
  • you have received a letter inviting you to book online for an appointment at a large site which might be out of the Doncaster area

If you are in the above categories, you can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or a pharmacy that provides COVID-19 vaccinations and you do not need to wait to be contacted by your GP.

If you do not want to, or cannot attend a large site outside your area when using the national booking line, then please wait to be invited by your GP surgery. They will have your details and will contact you when it is time for you to have your vaccine.

My age group hasn’t been mentioned yet – how do I get a vaccine?

  • If you are not eligible yet, please wait to be contacted. The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
  • Specific groups of people will be invited for the vaccine in line with the JCVI guidance – you do NOT need to contact your local practice.
  • It is very important to attend vaccination appointments at the specific date and time, the programme is not a drop-in service; to receive the vaccine, you must have had an invitation, booked an appointment and had confirmation.

 How will I be contacted?

  • 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.
  • As mentioned above, you could also receive a letter from the national booking service which may offer you a jab at a mass vaccination site or pharmacy located in a neighbouring area such as Sheffield Arena. This is simply an offer of getting a vaccination quickly at a mass vaccination site and if this is not appropriate for any reason, please disregard the letter and wait for your local practice to contact you.
  • This is the biggest vaccination programme in UK history, which means it will take time to vaccinate all the eligible people.
  • We know lots of people are eager to get protected, but we are asking everyone to please be patient, await your invite and please don’t contact the NHS to get an appointment.

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 12 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 12 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.

 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.
  • Vaccination sites will keep you safe through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting in addition to having social distancing in waiting areas. Please wear a face covering to your appointment. You should also follow safety guidance to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.

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.

 

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.
  • 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 12 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
    • 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.
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