Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

About the vaccine

What’s in the vaccine?

There are two vaccines currently being used in Leeds, Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca. A third vaccine, Moderna, has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) however we do not expect to receive supplies of this just yet.

The ingredients for the vaccines are publicised on the Government’s website.

How do the vaccines work?

Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines teach your body to fight the virus.

The vaccines work by making a protein from the virus that is important for creating protection.  The protein stimulates the immune system to make antibodies and cells to fight the infection.

The components of the vaccine leave the body within a few days. The vaccines will not alter your DNA or genetic material.

Is the vaccine suitable for my diet (e.g.: vegetarian, Halal)?

The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal or foetal products.

Leaders from Muslim, Hindu and Jewish faiths have all said that the vaccines are suitable for people of their religions and people shouldn’t hesitate to get them.

How long do the vaccines take to work?  

Protection starts around seven days after your first dose. To get the maximum amount of protection, people need to have their second dose. Full protection takes effect around a week or two after the second dose.

How long is the vaccine effective for and will I have to get it again and again?

We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer, this will be constantly monitored. The vaccine has been shown to be effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people of different ages and ethnic backgrounds. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

Will the vaccines work with the new strains?

There is currently no evidence 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.

Is one vaccine better than the other? 

Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and highly effective. No trials have been carried out to compare the vaccines: the important thing is that they will both protect you from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

When will I get my second vaccination?

You will be given your second vaccination 11-12 weeks after your first one. If you had your first vaccination at your local GP centre, you will be contacted by your practice when it is time to have your second dose. People who booked their first vaccination through the national booking service will already have been booked a second appointment at the same centre. If you need to check when this is or make any changes you can do this online or by calling 119.

Can I get a vaccine privately?

No. Vaccinations are only available through the NHS and are free of charge. If anyone claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee, they are likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the police online or by calling 101.

Remember:

  • 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.

Eligibility and priority groups

Who is being offered a vaccination?

It is important that the people who at the greatest risk from Covid-19 get the vaccine first. The NHS offering vaccinations in line with the recommendations from the independent Joint Committee for Vaccinations & Immunisations (JCVI).  These are based on preventing death from COVID-19 and the need to protect health and social care staff and systems. They also reflect the fact that the single greatest risk of death from COVID-19 is age.

The first four priority groups to receive the vaccines were care home residents and staff, people aged 70 years of age and over, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and frontline health and social care staff.

The NHS is currently offering vaccinations to people in the following priority groups:

  • Cohort 5 – people aged 65-69
  • Cohort 6 – people with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk from Covid-19 and carers of elderly and disabled people.
  • Cohort 7 – people aged 60-64
  • Cohort 8 – people aged 55-59
  • Cohort 0 – people aged 50-54

If you are in one of these groups, you will be contacted when it is your turn for a vaccination, either by your practice or the NHS national booking service. The aim is to for everyone in the nine groups to have been offered a first vaccination by the middle of April.

What about people under 50?

The Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations has recommended that the rollout of the vaccine continues to be prioritised by age. Once the nine priority groups have been offered vaccinations, people will be invited in the following order:

  • 40-49 year olds
  • 30-39 year olds
  • 18-29 year olds

The expectation is that all adults will be vaccinated by the end of July 2021.

I’m housebound, how will I get my vaccination?

Your GP practice will make arrangements for you to have your vaccination at home and contact you when it is your turn. This may take a little longer to arrange but all housebound patients in cohorts 1-6 should be contacted by 15 March.

I’ve been added to the Shielded Patients list, when will I get my vaccination?

If you have received a letter to say you have been added to the Shielded Patients list, you can book an appointment using the national booking service or wait to be contacted by your GP.

I have a health condition which puts me at greater risk from COVID-19, when will I get my vaccination?

GP practices are currently offering vaccinations to patients with health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19. There are lots of people in this cohort so it will take some time to reach everyone but you should be contacted before the middle of April.

Which conditions are included in cohort 6?

The JCVI guidance recommends that people with the following conditions should be included in cohort 6:

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • people with a learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness

If you have one of these conditions, your GP will check if you meet the criteria for a vaccination and contact you if you are eligible.

I am an unpaid carer – am I eligible for a vaccination?

People who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person are eligible for a vaccination in cohort 6. If you receive Carer’s Allowance, you will be able to book an appointment using the national booking service or if you are registered as a carer with your GP practice, they will contact you to offer you a vaccination.

If not, you can contact 0113 246 8338 and if you are eligible you will be added to the list for a vaccination.

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

No. The Joint Committee for Vaccinations & Immunisations (JCVI) recommendations do not include household members of clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right or as carers.

Why haven’t I been offered an appointment when people younger than me / in a lower priority group have?

All GP practices are following the national directives on inviting cohorts. However, practices will have different numbers of patients in each cohort so there will be some variance in when people from different practices are offered their vaccination. It is also important to remember that age is not the only eligibility criteria: vaccinations are being offered to people of all ages who are clinically extremely vulnerable or have a health condition that puts them at increased risk from COVID-19.

Safety, testing and side effects

What are the short-term and long-term 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 symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. Although you should get good protection from the first dose, having the second dose should give you longer lasting protection against the virus.

Very 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

Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection. You can rest and take the 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 also report suspected side effects to vaccines and medicines online through the Yellow Card scheme.

So far, thousands of people have 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.

What is the guidance around the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine?

New guidance has been issued for the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination.

This follows further reviews by the independent regulator, the MHRA, and the Commission for Human Medicines, of a very small number of people in the UK who have developed a rare blood-clotting condition since having the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The MHRA and Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations have emphasised that the risk of this condition is extremely small and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.  They have recommended that:

  • Everyone who has had the AstraZeneca vaccine should still have a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, irrespective of age, unless they suffered any serious side effects after their first vaccination.
  • People aged 30 and over or who have a health condition that puts them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease should still be offered the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. The benefits in protecting them against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition.
  • People aged 18-29 who do not have a health condition that puts them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease will be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine where available. (This has been recommended as a precaution as people under 30 are at less risk from Covid-19 and not because they are considered to be at particular risk of developing the rare blood clot.)
  • People under 30 can still choose to have the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine if this will mean they can be protected more quickly and they have been made aware of the guidance.

Please see the leaflet below that has been produced by Public Health England and the NHS to answer any questions you may have:

Are the vaccines safe for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities?

The trials demonstrated that the vaccines are consistently safe and effective across different ethnic groups.

For the Pfizer trial, participants included 9.6% black/African, 26.1% Hispanic/Latino and 3.4% Asian.  For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine 10.1% of trail recipients were Black and 3.5% Asian. Full details are available in the Public Assessment Reports, which contain all the scientific information about the trials and information on trial participants. These can be found at:

How do scientists know that the vaccine is safe?

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and 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.

The vaccine has been shown to be effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people of different ages and ethnic backgrounds.

How has the vaccine been developed so quickly?

There has been an unprecedented worldwide scientific collaboration and funding to create the vaccine. This global effort has allowed scientists to work at speed, and complete years of work within months.

For COVID-19 research (including vaccine development), the set-up process has been streamlined by establishing a single, collective UK system-wide approach involving all the appropriate bodies, meaning that it can move through the process much quicker.

As well as this, the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed under extraordinary circumstance. Under usual circumstances, the development of vaccines – from the trials that test them to the processes that approve them – can take many years, due to administrative and bureaucratic processes.

No clinical trial can take place if there aren’t volunteers. In the case of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, which were developed during a pandemic, thousands of volunteers were recruited to trials very quickly. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, it’s likely that this would have taken a lot longer, because people would have been unable – or unwilling – to participate for a variety of reasons including work commitments.

Can the vaccines make you ill?

You can’t get COVID-19 from having the vaccine. As with flu, it is possible to have caught COVID-19 and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment but the vaccine cannot give you the virus.

How do we know there won’t be side effects in 5 or 10 years’ time?

So far, thousands of people have 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.

Like every other vaccine in the world – and indeed like every medicine and treatment – COVID-19 vaccines may cause side effects in some people who are vaccinated.

This does not mean that every person who has a vaccine will experience side effects, or that the side effects will be particularly bad or damaging.

It’s also important to remember that no vaccine will be approved – or even be tested in a phase 3 clinical trial – if it hasn’t first passed other safety checks. At every stage of a vaccine’s development, from animals studies right through to phase 1 and phase 2 trials, safety is always being checked and side effects monitored.

I’ve heard a lot of rumours about the vaccine – how can I find out if they are true or false?

It is best to first check the source of the information you have received. We are aware that there are a number of rumours and misinformation and we understand why some people may feel apprehensive. The NHS has set up a webpage with lots of information on the vaccine as well as links to other trusted sources of information www.nhs.uk/CovidVaccine or www.gov.uk/coronavirus

In Leeds we are developing a range of resources in different formats so you can make an informed choice about the vaccine. The vaccine is not compulsory however it does give us the greatest chance of beating COVID-19. This will help protect you and your loved ones as well as helping your NHS.

I am worried that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t safe as I’ve heard it might cause blood clots – should I still have it?

 Rigorous reviews have been carried out to check the safety data on both vaccines and have confirmed that neither vaccine increases the risk of someone developing blood clots.

These were carried out by the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency following reports of blood clots in a small number of people who had recently had the vaccine. However, both agencies, along with the World Health Organisation, had stressed from the outset that there was no evidence to suggest the blood clots have been caused by the vaccine and that it was safe to continue using it while the reviews were carried out.

Their findings reflected those of AstraZeneca’s own review of data from more than 17 million people vaccinated in the UK and European Union. This showed that there had been 37 reports of blood clots, which is fewer than would be expected to occur naturally in this number of people. The MHRA review also looked at data for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and confirmed there was no link to either vaccine causing  blood clots.

As of 18 March, over 21 million people in England have now been vaccinated, with the latest research showing that the vaccines are extremely effective at preventing serious illness and death from Covid-19.

The vaccines are the only protection available against the serious illness caused by Covid-19, which has sadly led to the death of millions of people around the world. People will continue to be at risk from the disease if they do not take up the offer of a vaccine so it is very important to have yours when you are invited.

Information sheet the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine: it’s safe, tested and it works

COVID-19 vaccine and fertility

Fertility information sheet: medical experts and scientists agree that it is not possible for the vaccine to affect fertility

The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives issued a press notice on 19 January, responding to misinformation around COVID-19 vaccine and how there’s no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility.

Logistics

Which vaccine will I get?

It will not be possible to give a choice between different vaccines as the healthcare professional vaccinating you will have to use the vaccine that is available at the time of your appointment.

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.

What’s the difference between the different vaccines?

The vaccines that the NHS uses and in what circumstances will be decided by the MHRA. Both vaccines are classed as being very effective. The Oxford/AstraZeneca is easier to store and transport, meaning we can deliver them in more places, and we expect to have more doses available as they are manufactured in the UK, so we would expect that most people are likely to receive this vaccine over the coming weeks and months.

Can I choose which vaccine I get?

It will not be possible to give a choice between different vaccines as the healthcare professional vaccinating you will have to use the vaccine that is available at the time of your appointment.

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.

When will I get my vaccine?

Local NHS leaders were asked to prioritise areas with high numbers of people aged 80 or over in line with the prioritisation set out by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).  Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK

It’s being given to:

  • people aged 65 and over
  • people who are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers

A vaccination programme of this size and scale will still take some time to roll out in full but we want to assure you that there is enough vaccination for everyone and no one will be forgotten, and like the rest of the NHS we are working to offer vaccines to everyone in the priority groups.

Please don’t be worried if you or a family member is in one of the other priority groups but hasn’t heard anything so far. You might know others in one of the other priority groups who have been invited for their vaccination already, but that does not mean that you or your relative are a lower priority.

The NHS is working hard to vaccinate as many people in this group as quickly as possible and many more people will be invited in. This is only the start of the vaccination programme and it will take some time to work through everyone.

If you are over 70, you can find out how you can book an appointment. For all other priority group you need to wait for your invitation from the NHS.

How do I know when it will be my turn? Who will contact me?

There are four ways you might be contacted by the NHS when it is your turn to be vaccinated.

  • Using a local GP service: GP services are working together in your area to vaccinate as many people as possible. You may be contacted by a different surgery to the one you usually go to.
  • Local hospital services: You might be contacted to have the vaccination as an inpatient or outpatient.
  • At a vaccination centre: If you live within 30 to 45 minutes of a vaccination centre, and haven’t already been vaccinated, you may have received a letter asking you to book an appointment online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. Or if you can’t access the NHS website you can call 119 free of charge.
  • NHS text alerts for COVID-19 vaccine: the national booking service is also sending invitations and reminders to some people by text. These will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service and will show as being sent from ‘NHSvaccine’ with a link to the NHS.uk website.

If you can’t travel to a vaccination centre, or there is another reason you can’t book an appointment at the nearest vaccination centre, you can choose to wait until your local GP services contact you if they haven’t already. If this is your preferred option – you don’t need to do anything now – wait for your GP service to make contact.

Please do not try to book a vaccination if you have not received an invite.

Who is going to give me my vaccine and have they been properly trained?

All vaccinators have to undertake a rigorous training programme. To deliver the largest immunisation campaign in its history, the NHS is asking a number of trained healthcare professionals to support the vaccine roll out. This includes GPs, nurses and pharmacists.

I’ve not been called for my vaccine yet even though I’m in a priority group – why haven’t I heard anything, have I been missed?

A vaccination programme of this size and scale will still take some time to roll out in full but we want to assure you that there is enough vaccination for everyone and no one will be forgotten, and like the rest of the NHS we are working to offer vaccines to everyone in the top priority groups by the middle of February.

Please don’t be worried if you or a family member is over 80 or is one of the other priority groups but hasn’t heard anything so far. You might know others over 80 or in one of the other priority groups who have been invited for their vaccination already, but that does not mean that you or your relative are a lower priority.

GPs and other practice staff are working hard to vaccinate as many people in this group as quickly as possible and, during January and February 2021, many more people will be invited in. This is only the start of the vaccination programme and it will take some time to work through everyone.

When are people who work with the public going to get vaccinated?

A vaccination programme of this size and scale will still take some time to roll out in full but we want to assure you that there is enough vaccination for everyone and no one will be forgotten, and like the rest of the NHS we are working to offer vaccines to everyone in the top priority groups by the middle of February. We can then work our way through all the other priority groups as identified by the JCVI.

Existing health issues

I’ve got a health condition – how will I find out if the vaccine is safe for me?

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 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 to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

I’ve already had COVID-19, do I need to get the vaccine?

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-19 they should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine now with a clinician.

If you have symptoms that could be coronavirus you should get a test and not get your vaccine until your period of self-isolation has ended.

If I’m shielding, am I allowed to travel to get my vaccine?

We are advising clinically extremely vulnerable people to stay at home as much as possible. You can still go outside for exercise or to attend health appointments, but try to keep all contact with others outside of your household to a minimum, and avoid busy areas.

Before attending any scheduled medical appointments, including the coronavirus vaccine, you should contact the clinic in advance to let them know you are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Can I have the vaccine if I’m pregnant?

The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has updated its guidance to say that pregnant women can have the vaccine if they are at high risk of catching COVID-19 or have clinical conditions that put them at greater risk but they should discuss it with a doctor first.

Can I have the vaccine if I am breastfeeding?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that the vaccines can be given to women who are breastfeeding as there are no known risks to them or their baby. This is in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

For further information please follow this link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-women-of-childbearing-age-currently-pregnant-planning-a-pregnancy-or-breastfeeding/covid-19-vaccination-a-guide-for-women-of-childbearing-age-pregnant-planning-a-pregnancy-or-breastfeeding

The NHS national booking service

What are the operating hours of the telephone booking system?

The telephone booking service will be open 16 hours a day (from 7am until 11pm), seven days a week. People will also be able to book online 24/7.

What should people do if they can’t get through to the phone line straight away?

At times, due to high demand, the phone line will get very busy, which may mean waiting on the line for a while or calling back later. People can alternatively book online. If you need help to do this please ask someone in your support bubble.

What information will I need to book?

You will need to provide your name, date of birth, postcode and ideally your NHS number, which will be included on your booking letter. If you have lost your letter or don’t have your NHS number, you may need to provide the name and postcode/postcode of the GP practice you are registered with – in this circumstance you should use the phone booking service.

Does the national booking service work for people who don’t understand English well or are deaf?

The phone line has interpreters and a BSL facility available on request to help you book your appointments.

What if I book an appointment through the NHS website or 119 and I need to rearrange it?

If you need to rearrange an appointment that you booked through the NHS website, you can do this through the ‘manage your appointments’ section on the booking page. If you booked through 119, you can also ring to rearrange your appointment.

If you can’t attend your appointment for any reason, please cancel or rearrange it so that the appointment slot can be given to someone else who needs it.

Can I still book if I previously had an appointment but didn’t attend or cancel it?

Yes. The service will allow anyone who is eligible and has not already had a vaccination to book an appointment.

I’ve received a letter but someone I live who is the same age hasn’t yet. Can we get vaccinated together?

The NHS is inviting eligible people in a phased basis as supplies of the vaccine allow. It is important that you wait for your letter from the NHS, and you will not be able to book without one.

If you have received a letter and live with someone who is also eligible but has not received a letter, it is likely that theirs will follow shortly. If you like you can wait and book at the same time.

How is the service ensuring people don’t fraudulently book an appointment?

People will be asked to provide details of their identity at the time of booking, when they arrive for their appointment and before they are vaccinated.

Having the vaccine during Ramadan

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.

For further information, please visit https://britishima.org/operation-vaccination/hub/statements/#FAST

Other

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.

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

Yes, if they are in one of the priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had COVID-19 as it is for those who haven’t, including people who have mild residual symptoms. Where people are suffering significant ongoing complications from COVID-19 they should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine now with a clinician.

I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?

The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19 so you need to have both.

Do I need to leave a space between having the flu vaccine and having the COVID-19 vaccine?

It is not essential to leave time between the flu and COVID-19 vaccine but it is recommended that there should be a gap of a week. The NHS always encourages anyone who is eligible for a flu jab to have it as soon as possible.

I’m young and healthy – why should I have it?

You can choose not to have the vaccine, however the NHS is encouraging everyone who can to have it. The more people who have the vaccine, the harder it will be for the virus to spread.

Will we have to keep social distancing even after we’ve been vaccinated, and why?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as 2 doses, and it is important to have both. Your body builds up better protection to COVID-19 symptoms when the vaccine is given in two, smaller doses, with time in between.

The COVID-19 vaccine should protect you from becoming sick, but it won’t stop you from infecting other people. So, it is really important that you continue to remember hands, face, space. Wash your hands, cover your face and keep your distance from people. During the winter when people tend to spend more time indoors, it is a good idea to have a flow of air, for example by opening windows sometimes.

If I have any questions about the vaccine who should I speak to? Or where should I go?

You should use trusted sources of information such as www.nhs.uk/CovidVaccine or www.gov.uk/coronavirus. When you are invited in for your vaccine you can ask the healthcare professional looking after you for more information. It is important that you avoid sharing information that does not come from a trusted source or appears to have been forwarded many times, such as on WhatsApp.

We have seen that some leisure centres and other community venues have been allocated to be vaccination centres. Are there any plans to approach places of worship or other faith buildings to be used as vaccination centres and what those faith building would need to do to be eligible to be vaccination centres?

This is something we may consider in the future once we have established our main sites first with appropriate staff in place to support the centres.

If students are such a big cause of the spread then why are we so far down the vaccination list?

We all continue to have a responsibility to reduce the spread of COVID-19, no one group is solely responsible for the spread. We all have to continue to take sensible precautions and follow the guidance to keep all of us safe in our communities. Stay at home and remember hands, face, space.

Local NHS leaders were asked to prioritise areas with high numbers of people aged 80 or over in line with the prioritisation set out by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).  Using this guidance the NHS has been prioritising vaccinating those people who experts have agreed will benefit from it the most. It’s being given to:

  • people aged 80 and over
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers at high risk

The most up to date JCVI priority list can be found on the gov.uk website.

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.