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Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG


About the vaccine

Home » Coronavirus (COVID-19) » Vaccination FAQs » About the vaccine

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.
  • 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which is also being assessed by the MHRA.

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has said this vaccine is 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. Vaccines go through several stages of lab tests and clinical trials before they can be approved for use.

There is continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.

Vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting serious infectious diseases. It is much safer for your immune system to learn how to fight illnesses through vaccination than by catching and treating them.

Can you choose which vaccine you have? 

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.

Currently JCVI has advised that it is preferable for people under 40 to have a vaccine other than Astra Zenica. If you choose to have another COVID-19 vaccine you may have to wait to be protected. You may wish to go ahead with the Astra Zenica vaccination after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you.

How long does the vaccine take to become effective?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your suffering from COVID-19 disease. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe

We don’t yet know whether it will stop people from catching and passing on the virus, but we do expect it to reduce this risk. So, it is still important that people continue to follow social distancing rules for the time being.

Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?

Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.

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

The government websites provide information on the contents of the Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccinations. The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg.

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.

Who cannot have the vaccine?

The vaccines do not contain living organisms and are safe for people with disorders of the immune system. These people may not respond so well to the vaccine.

A very small number of people who are at risk of COVID-19 cannot have the vaccine – this includes people who have severe allergies.

How effective are the vaccines?

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.

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.

Can I give COVID-19 to anyone, after I have had the vaccine?

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So, it is important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you.

To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:

  • Practise social distancing
  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash your hands carefully and frequently
  • Follow the current guidance www.gov.uk/coronavirus

After I have had the vaccine will I still need to follow all the infection control advice?

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and two 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. So, you will still need to follow the guidance in your workplace, including wearing the correct personal protection equipment and taking part in any screening programmes.

To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:

  • Practise social distancing
  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash your hands carefully and frequently
  • Follow the current guidance www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Should people who have already had Covid-19 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 vaccination?

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 children have the vaccine?

Children who are on the CEV list are not generally recommended for vaccination unless they have serious neurodisabilities. You should check with your GP if you are unsure.

Children under 16 year of age, even if they are CEV, are at low risk of serious morbidity and mortality, and, given the absence of safety and efficacy data on the vaccine, are not currently recommended for vaccination.

I’m scared of needles, is it painful?

The needle used to vaccinate is just an average one, no bigger than when you’ve had your other jabs in the past. It doesn’t hurt, it is just like a scratch or small sting that only lasts a few seconds. If you are scared, tell the vaccinator and they will be able to talk you through it.

When will I be vaccinated?

This is the biggest vaccination programme in UK history, which means it will take time to vaccinate everyone. We are currently working in line with the JCVI priority list and you will be contacted when it is your turn to receive a vaccine.

Who cannot receive the vaccine?

There are very few individuals who cannot receive the Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. Where there is doubt, rather than withholding vaccination, appropriate advice should be sought from the relevant specialist, or from the local immunisation or health protection team.

The vaccine should not be given to those who have had a previous systemic allergic reaction (including immediate-onset anaphylaxis) to:

  • a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine
  • any component (excipient) of the COVID-19 vaccine e.g. polyethylene glycol

A very small number of individuals have experienced anaphylaxis when vaccinated with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Following close national surveillance, the MHRA is no longer advising that individuals with a history of anaphylaxis to any vaccine, medicine or food do not get the vaccine. Anyone with a previous history of allergic reactions to the ingredients of the vaccine should not receive it, but those with any other allergies (such as a food allergy) can now have the vaccine.

Do I have to have my second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination?

Yes – it’s really important you get both doses of the Covid-19 vaccination. The Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MRHA) have said vaccines are highly effective but to get the best protection possible, people need to come back for their second dose. The national medical advice is that the second dose of the vaccine remains effective when given up to 12 weeks after the first dose.

Do I have to follow the rules even after I have my second Covid-19 vaccination?

Yes. Current guidance states that even after the second dose of your vaccination, you must continue to follow the guidelines in place on social distancing, wearing a mask and all other measures. You can read the full guidance here.

In other countries, second doses of Covid-19 vaccinations are happening in 3 weeks. Why is the UK different?

The national medical advice is that the second dose of the vaccine remains effective when given up to 12 weeks after the first dose. This helps to make sure that many people as possible benefit from the first dose of the vaccine as soon as possible. You can read more here.

I have received a text to say my second Covid-19 vaccination appointment has been rescheduled. Why is this?

The current Government and medical guidance says that second doses of Covid-19 vaccination should happen between 11 and 12 weeks of the first dose. If you have received a text to say your appointment has been rescheduled, this is because your second appointment was booked in for earlier than this timeframe.

If my appointment is pushed back, does this mean I will be less protected from Covid19?

No. Even if your second appointment has been pushed back, it will still be within the 12-week period in line with Government and medical guidance.

When will my second appointment be rescheduled to?

Your second Covid-19 vaccination appointment will be within 12 weeks of your first appointment. You will receive a text 8 days before your new appointment to confirm the details and the time. If you are unable to make this date or time please call the booking line on 0115 883 4640.

Can I have my second appointment after 12 weeks?

It is strongly advised that you get your second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine within 12 weeks of the first. It is best that you stick to your appointment time unless in exceptional circumstances. Please call the booking line on 0115 883 4640 if you need to discuss this further.

Can I have my second Covid-19 vaccine at a different location?

It is recommended that both vaccinations take place at the same location; this can be changed, but only under exceptional circumstances. If you cannot make the location of your second dose please contact the booking line on 0115 883 4640 to discuss.

Will I have a different vaccine at my second appointment?

Currently, official guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says anyone already given the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca jab should get the same vaccine for both doses.

I have my second vaccination appointment booked but want to change this. Can I do this?

We are asking people to keep to their appointments. Appointments can be rescheduled but it is best that you stick to your appointment time unless in exceptional circumstances. Please call the booking line on 0115 883 4640 if you need to talk about this further.

I have lost/forgotten the date of my second appointment – what do I do?

If you booked your vaccination online, you can login to Swiftqueue and find the details of your booking. If you booked via the Booking Line, or cannot access your online booking, please call the booking line on 0115 883 4640.

I was never given the details of my second appointment – what do I do?

Please call the booking line on 0115 883 4640.

I have a serious medical/health condition. Is there any way I can have my second appointment sooner?

Arrangements for second doses can be changed where there are exceptional reasons for the second dose to be given outside this time period. This should be discussed with the professional providing your care as they will have to request that your 2nd dose is administered earlier than 11 – 12 weeks.

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