Vaccine Update: Aged 18 or over? Book your jab NOW
The NHS is now urging everyone who is aged 18 and over to come forward and get their jab. Additionally, if:
- you're at high risk from COVID-19 (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- you have a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
- you have a learning disability
- you're an eligible frontline health or social care worker
- you get a Carer's Allowance, get support following an assessment by your local authority or your GP record shows you're a carer
You should come forward for your jab.
The easiest way is to do this is through the NHS National Booking Service, or if you can’t get online then you can ring the Essex Helpline on 0344 2573 961 (open 9am-4pm, local rate). If you are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable) the NHS will contact you to arrange your vaccination appointments.
JCVI issues advice on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people (19 July 2021)
Following a request from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for advice on a possible extension of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has looked at the available evidence around vaccinating children and young people under the age of 18.
From today, the JCVI is advising that children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.
Under existing advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should have already been offered vaccination.
Further details regarding other specific underlying health conditions for which an offer of COVID-19 vaccination is advised will be provided in the Green Book: Immunisation against infectious disease.
Additionally, operationally, it is considered reasonable to allow a lead-in time to offer vaccination to those children who are within three months of their 18th birthday to ensure good uptake of vaccine in newly-turned 18 year olds.
The JCVI is not currently advising routine vaccination of children outside of these groups, based on the current evidence. As evidence shows that COVID-19 rarely causes severe disease in children without underlying health conditions, at this time the JCVI’s view is that the minimal health benefits of offering universal COVID-19 vaccination to children do not outweigh the potential risks.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been authorised for children in the UK, for those aged 12 or older. This followed a US clinical trial in around 1,000 children aged 12 to 15 that found side effects in this group were generally short lived and mild to moderate.
To view the JCVI statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 years, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-of-children-and-young-people-aged-12-to-17-years-jcvi-statement/jvci-statement-on-covid-19-vaccination-of-children-and-young-people-aged-12-to-17-years-15-july-2021.
The UK's Vaccine Plan
Vaccines is our best hope of defeating coronavirus and returning to life as normal. The UK Government has secured access to millions doses through agreements with seven separate vaccine developers – giving the UK the best shot of having early access to safe and effective vaccines - and the NHS is leading a UK-wide NHS led programme of vaccine distribution.
Latest Vaccine update (July 2021)
Thanks to the heroic efforts of our NHS, armed forces and countless volunteers, we are now approaching the final stretch in our race to vaccinate and are urging every adult to get their jabs as soon as possible to make sure they are fully protected. Thanks to the continued success of our historic vaccination programme, the link between infections and hospitalisations has been severely weakened, with an estimated 8.5 million infections and 30,000 deaths prevented in England alone. We have administered a total of over 80 million vaccine doses across the UK, by 19 July two thirds of adults will have received two doses and every adult will have been offered a first dose. Data from PHE suggests that one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 80% effective against hospitalisations with the Delta variant, increasing to 96% after two doses.
The UK was the first country in the world to procure, authorise and then deploy both the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines. To date, we have invested over £300 million into manufacturing a successful vaccine, with facilities across the UK working at pace to supply the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.
By the end of January, the NHS had reached our every care home resident and we have now offered a vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups, which ensuring the most vulnerable in society are protected first, as the top four groups account for 88% of COVID deaths. With 400 million vaccines now on the stocks and new vaccination sites launching every week, if we continue to encourage vaccine uptake and follow the rules, we are one step closer to coming out of the other side of this pandemic. Thousands of vaccination sites have already been established across the UK and this huge expansion has meant that at the end of January everyone now lives within 10 miles of a vaccination centre, either fixed or roving in England, helping those who are most at risk from COVID-19 to access vaccines for free, regardless of where they live.
READ MORE: UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan
COVID-19 vaccine surveillance reports
Since the beginning of the programme, Public Health England (PHE) has been monitoring the effectiveness of the vaccines in the real world as set out in the COVID-19 vaccine surveillance strategy and the impact on:
- symptomatic disease
- infection (symptomatic or asymptomatic)
Below is PHE’s weekly COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report (20 May 2021 – week 20). The table below summarises the evidence we have to date on vaccine effectiveness against different outcomes.
To view the full report, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccine-surveillance-report
LOCAL Vaccine Information
COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Essex: A brand-new website has been launched which aims to offer residents of Essex a single, comprehensive and accurate source of information about Covid-19 and vaccinations. https://www.essexcovidvaccine.nhs.uk/.
Walk in vaccine clinics in Southend. Walk in clinics for the AstraZeneca vaccine are available in Southend until the end of July.
Walk-in Pfizer vaccine appointments at The Paddocks, Canvey Island. Visit here to find out more.
Walk-in and pre-bookable Moderna vaccine appointments in Chelmsford and Braintree. Visit here to find out more
Walk in Covid Vaccine appointments in Stifford Clays and Chadwell St Mary. Visit here to find out more.
Residents in Castle Point will be receiving their vaccines via local hospital Hubs, at a Mass vaccination centre AND/OR Benfleet & Canvey Vaccination hubs arranged by their GPs, and local pharmacies as well
The GP-led vaccination programme is being delivered by groups of GPs, organised into what are known as Primary Care Networks (PCNs). In Castle Point there are two PCNs
- Benfleet Primary Care Network (Dr Khan and Partners (Rushbottom Lane) & St George's Medical Practice (Rushbottom Lane), Dr P A Patel, The Hollies Surgery, Essex Way Surgery, High Road Family Doctors, Benfleet Surgery)
- Canvey Primary Care Network (Oaklands Surgery, Dr Ghauri, Dr Richards, The Island Surgery, Dr Chaudhury)
Castle Point has two active PNC vaccine sites- one in Canvey and one in Benfleet (as of 13th Jan). The Primary Care Network is made up of the local GP surgery's working together to delivery the vaccine to all their patients at their designated vaccination site. Canvey's PNC is at the Paddocks and Benfleet's PNC is currently at the Benfleet Clinic. GP's will be contacting people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.
We now have five hospital vaccination hubs operating across Essex. All are giving the COVID-19 vaccine to people considered the highest priority – those aged 80 and over, care home staff and frontline priority health and care workers. They are operating from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
Basildon University Hospital were among the first sites in the country to give the PfizerBioNTech vaccine to people considered the highest priority – those 80 and over, care home staff and health care workers at high risk. They are now vaccinating up to 250 patients a day, operating from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
Basildon University Hospital is now sending letters in the post, and emailing, everyone who has received their first COVID-19 vaccination inviting them to come back for the second dose. If you have already received your first vaccination at this hub, look out for a letter or email with information on when to come for the second dose.
It is also sending out new text messages inviting people aged 80 and over to book their COVID-19 vaccinations at the vaccination hub by calling the number in the message or booking online using the link included. The message will clearly say that it is from Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, please wait to be called.
Southend Hospital A small team from the military’s Vaccines Quick Reaction Force is working to support the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine at Southend Hospital. The force is made up of medically trained personnel who have been requested to work alongside the hospital’s clinical staff on a short-term basis to bolster its capacity. Around 300 people a day will be receiving their jab at the hospital.
Mass vaccination centres
There are currently 16 NHS large vaccination centre in Essex and Suffolk. These can give hundreds of vaccines a day, thousands a week, scaling up and down according to vaccine supplies. More will follow over the coming weeks. Please only attend if you have an appointment and do not arrive early. The first COVID-19 NHS large vaccination centre in Essex opened on 18 January. The Lodge, in Runwell, Wickford, is one of the first in the East of England to open its doors to vaccinate people aged 80 and over, along with health and care staff. It offers an additional option for people to the hospital hubs and GP-led vaccination services already offering coronavirus vaccinations across Essex. NHS staff will administer thousands of doses a week.
- Alastair Farquharson Centre, Thurrock Community Hospital
- Chelmsford City Racecourse
- Clacton Hospital
- Colchester United Jobserve Community Stadium
- Gainsborough Sports Centre, Ipswich
- Harlow Leisurezone
- The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea
- The Lodge, Runwell
- The Mill Arts & Events Centre, Rayleigh
- The Practice, Tylers Ride, South Woodham Ferrers
- Columbine Centre, Walton-on-the-Naze
- Murray Hall, Loughton
- Runnymede Hall, Thundersley
Letters were sent out to people in top priority groups who live up to a 45 minute drive from a new vaccine centre, inviting them to book an appointment through the national booking service online or over the phone. If this is not convenient, people can wait to receive an appointment more locally at a GP-led service. If an appointment has already been offered by a GP, residents can choose which appointment suits them best. Further information about the local COVID vaccination programme is available at: https://www.essexcovidvaccine.nhs.uk/
Transport to Runnymede & Wickford Vaccine Centre
Local Essex County Councillors (Andrew Sheldon, Beverley Egan & Jill Reeves) secured some grant funding for CAVS Ways to Wellness Service to arrange transport for those who would otherwise have problems getting to and from the NHS clinic for their jab. The transport will be via COVID safety compliant local licenced taxis and will be free of charge.
This is available to those living in Benfleet, Hadleigh, Thundersley and Daws Heath and will be offered to those who need it by local GPs surgeries when they call people to arrange appointments at the Benfleet clinic. Those who are given an appointment at the Wickford Mass Vaccination Centre and have no means to get there can also access this service by calling CAVS directly on: 01268 214000
The following community pharmacies are now offering the vaccine by appointment:
- Calvalry Road Pharmacy, Colchester
- Holland Pharmacy, Holland-on-Sea
- Audley Mills Community Pharmacy, Rayleigh
Helpline – If you are in one of the eligible groups, live in Essex, and need further help to book an appointment, you can ring 0344 2573 961 (open 9am-4pm, local rate).
Why should I get the vaccine?
Vaccines are the foundation of our way out of this pandemic and the best way to protect people from COVID-19. The latest data is clear:
- A single dose of the vaccine can reduce household transmission of the virus by up to half.
- Both vaccines reduce the likelihood of serious illness by 60% after one dose.
- They reduce the likelihood of hospitalisation by 80% after one dose in the over 80s too.
- And PHE estimate this vaccine programme has prevented over 10,000 deaths up to the end of March.
Through vaccination, we can stop those most at-risk from getting the virus, meaning a reduction in hospitalisations and fewer deaths. It’s a way to keep you, your friends and family safe, which will over time lead to a lifting of restrictions and help us all return to a more normal life.
Who gets the vaccine first? /When will I get my vaccine?
The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advises the Government on which vaccines we should use, and what the priority groups are. Their decision is based on a range of factors, including the different characteristics of different types of vaccines, to work out the most effective way to protect as many people as possible and save as many lives as we can, using the best available clinical, modelling and epidemiological data. The top four most vulnerable groups account for 88% of COVID deaths.
The NHS target for vaccinating top 4 priority groups was January to mid February & the NHS met the target and has now offered a vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups. This covers around 32 million people, these groups are:
- ✓ Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- ✓ All those aged 80 and over. Frontline health and social care workers
- ✓ All those aged 75 and over
- ✓ All those aged 70 and over. Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- ✓ All those aged 65 and over
- ✓ All individuals aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
- ✓ All those aged 60 and over
- ✓ All those aged 55 and over
- ✓ All those aged 50 and over
Are there regional differences in supply or are sites running out of vaccine?
- Vaccines are being distributed fairly across the UK to ensure the most vulnerable are immunised first and all GPs will continue to receive deliveries as planned. The NHS, government and armed forces are doing everything we can to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible.
- Parts of the country have made very significant progress and gone faster than the average. We’re putting more supply into areas that have more to do, with the NHS doing brilliantly to deliver the amount of supply we have.
- Up to 2,000 people working in roles crucial to the continuity of the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain will be offered jabs to help ensure the UK gets the doses it needs to protect the most vulnerable
- The vaccine rollout is a huge logistical operation and there are a number of reasons why the rate of progress is different across the country. Some of the discrepancy will be due to differing population levels as some areas have a greater percentage of over 80’s (one of the highest-priority groups).
- It also takes time to set up the vaccination sites, because each site must be approved in terms of safety and accessibly. The Primary Care Network is made up of all the local GPs working together and the local Clinical Commissioning Group’s helps set up the GP led sites. So, setting up these sites needs the co-operation and agreement of the all the local Doctors and the administrators.
- Staffing is another important issue. In areas where there are high Covid cases, like in London and the East of England, appear to be hampered more by staff shortages due to infection and self-isolation.
- Other reasons include the storage, delivery and rate of production of the vaccine. The first vaccine to be approved- the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine- must be kept at around -70C (-100F). This super cold storage is usually found in hospitals. However, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is much more easily transported and stored. It can be sent to vaccination centres in refrigerated vans or cool boxes and stored in special vaccine fridges, normally found in GP practices between 2C to 8C, whilst also protected from light. Some areas started getting the vaccine first because they had the facilities to store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine first. Now the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved the NHS will be able to reach more places and more people.
The NHS is expanding the vaccine programme literally every week and while some places in the UK are ahead of the target pace, please be assure the NHS is still on track to meet their targets.
Why did some parts of the UK been vaccinating the over 70s before finishing vaccinating the over 80s?
In some areas of the NHS system, there have been instances of the over 70s receiving their vaccine before the over 80s age group – in line with the national policy. This would happen if there were no further people aged over 80 booked for a vaccination on a particular day or if we had a surplus supply of vaccine. If this instance occurred, people in the next age group would be invited in order to ensure no wastage of the vaccine. Moving towards this more flexible approach across the first four cohorts will support our achievement of a vaccination offer to all priority individuals by mid February. It will also reduce inequality of access and maximise pace.
Will people with a learning disability receive greater priority?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced that those on the GP learning disability register should be prioritised for a Covid vaccine.
People with a "severe or profound" learning disability in England & Wales were already in priority group six for the coronavirus vaccine, along with unpaid carers for those with disabilities and the elderly. All adults with Down's Syndrome have already been offered a jab, in priority group 4. The NHS is being asked to work with local authorities to identify other adults, in residential care or receiving support to live in the community, who are severely affected by a learning disability and may not be registered, but who should be offered a vaccine.
When will front line workers like Teachers/Police Officers/Shop Workers get the vaccine?
From spring, the second phase of vaccination will focus on the rest of the adult population, mainly the under-50s, who are much less likely to be ill with Covid-19. The Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi will be working with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to establish who will get the next shots in phase two of the rollout. The Vaccines Minister has said they will be looking carefully at prioritising those who through their work may come into contact disproportionately with the virus such as police officers, shop workers and teachers. A decision has now been made.....
Why did the Government choose to prioritise vaccines by age rather than other factors such as health and profession?
- We are following the advice from independent experts on the JCVI on which groups of people to prioritise for COVID-19 vaccines.
- The Committee advised the immediate priority should be to prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the single biggest factor determining mortality.
- We understand this is a challenging period for many, and the NHS is working hard to vaccinate those most at risk as soon as possible.
I have received a text message – is it a scam?
If you have received a text message from Basildon University Hospital it means that you are eligible to have the COVID-19 vaccine during the first wave of the vaccination programme. The text you have received will have clear NHS Mid and South Essex (MSE) branding with a link that allows you to book an appointment and there will also be a telephone line option. If you are concerned that the message is a scam, please call 01245 515 919.
You may also 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. If you already have appointments booked, you can: view your appointments, cancel your appointments or book appointments again HERE
If you are in one of the eligible groups, live in Essex and need further help to book an appointment, you can ring the Helpline on 0344 2573 961 (open 9am-4pm, local rate).
How do I spot a scam?
The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS. The NHS will never ask for:
- your bank account or card details
- your pin or banking password
- copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips
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. Please do try the phone line again as well. We aim to speak to people as quickly as we can.
I don’t want to travel to hospital for the vaccine as it’s a COVID risk?
The hospital hubs are safe and COVID secure. Any person being asked to come to one of the hospital vaccine hubs should attend if they possibly can. Basildon University Hospital vaccination hub is inside the main hospital entrance in a newly built vaccination centre. Those attending for their appointment must wear a mask and observe social distance guidelines.
I have no transport to get to a hospital vaccine hub what can I do? / I am housebound – how can I get my jab?
NHS staff are also visiting those who are housebound and unable to travel to their local service or vaccination centre. If you are unable to get to a vaccine hub, you will still be offered the vaccination, in your own home, in the coming weeks. Your primary care provider will arrange this for you.
I’ve received a letter but someone I live who is the same age hasn’t yet. Can we get vaccinated together?
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 both in the are in the top priority groups. You can book at the same time by contacting the NHS to book in your jab. The easiest way is to do this is through the NHS National Booking Service, or if you can’t get online then you can call 119 or you can speak to your local GP practice.
How do I arrange an appointment for my 2nd dose?
The NHS in Essex wants to make sure residents know what to do when it’s time for their 2nd dose of the vaccine. The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection. It’s important that the same vaccine is used for both doses and it will help if you return to the same place as where you had your 1st dose. Please remember that until you have had your second dose, you should continue to follow all the guidance including social distancing, wearing face coverings and hand washing
Where did you receive your 1st dose? / Where should you have your 2nd dose ?
- If you received your first dose at a GP-led vaccination service: you should return there for your second dose, your GP may have already given you a date, if you don’t have a date yet, your GP will contact you soon.
- If you received your first dose at a large vaccination centre: you should already have been given a date to return there for your second dose If you don’t have a date yet, you can book one online using the National Booking System or by calling 119. If you need help, please ring the local helpline: 0344 2573 961 (open 10am to 4pm).
- If you received your first dose at a hospital: If you had your first dose at Basildon Hospital, Broomfield Hospital, Orsett Hospital, Southend Hospital or Towngate Theatre in Basildon and booked your appointment online using ShiftPartner, then your second appointment must be also booked using ShiftPartner. If you need to change the date of your second appointment, you can do this online using ShiftPartner. If you need help please call the Mid & South Essex COVID-19 Vaccination booking line on 01245 515919 (only queries about second dose). If you booked your first dose by calling the Mid and South Essex COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Line, they will be in contact with you.
- If you received your first dose at a community pharmacy: you should have already been given a date to return there for your second dose. If you don’t have a date yet, you can book one online using the National Booking System or by calling 119.
Can I pay for a COVID-19 vaccine privately ?
No, the COVID-19 vaccination is only available through the NHS to eligible groups and it is a free vaccination.
How has the development of a vaccine been so quick? Is the vaccine be safe? / How will the MHRA make sure the vaccine is safe?
The vaccine is safe, 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 it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population. The NHS does not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public unless it is approved as safe and effective by the UK regulator.
The development of vaccines is typically a long and drawn-out process, but in response to the pandemic, the Government have helped to speed it up. During this accelerated process, independent regulators have continued to monitor the trials, as they would with any other vaccine. Safety and accountability have not been compromised or relaxed in any way. Yes it will be completely safe. The independent regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), would not approve a vaccine until it is clinically safe. If a vaccine does not meet the safety requirements, a vaccine simply won’t be distributed.
The safety of the public will always come first. A COVID-19 vaccine would only be approved for use if it has met robust standards on safety, effectiveness and quality through clinical trials. The MHRA will apply the key criteria of safety, quality and efficacy before authorising the use of a vaccine. This means that, once the data is submitted, MHRA scientists and clinicians will carefully and scientifically review the safety, quality and effectiveness data, how it protects people from COVID-19 and the level of protection it provides. The data will include:
- results from the lab and clinical trials in humans;
- manufacturing and quality controls;
- product sampling; and
- testing of the final product
Does the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine being developed so quickly mean that it is less safe than other vaccines?
No, it doesn’t. The reasons that this was developed so quickly do not include cutting corners on safety. There are a few reasons that enabled the speed in 2020:
- Technology. This viral vector vaccine (in common with many of the approaches used for the other vaccine candidates) could be rapidly deployed for development and testing once the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence became known, but this was actually done on the back of almost ten years prior research using this method of producing vaccines.
- Scientists. A LOT of scientists contributed to this, working extra long hours to make it work and to assess the results.
- Money. Normally raising money to develop a vaccine takes a long time. At each stage you have to stop and apply for more funding to carry out the next stage. Funding applications take a year or more. In 2020 for SARS-CoV-2, rapid investment of a lot of taxpayers’ money in many countries meant there weren’t the normal financial obstacles.
- Environment. Sometimes you can develop a vaccine but can’t test it until there is an epidemic in progress. There was no problem in this regard.
- Luck. Sometimes the target that is picked for vaccine studies, which is usually something seen on the outside of the virus, is not a good candidate for raising an immune response. The S protein target on SARS-CoV-2 that most vaccine companies picked to work with turns out to be an excellent target for activating the immune response.
- Volunteer test subjects. Last but definitely not least. Tens of thousands of volunteers took part in the safety trials and the randomised control trials so recruiting volunteers was not an issue as it may be under normal circumstances.
- Testing. Normally the various phases of safety testing happen sequentially, often because of financial restraints, in this case safety testing happened concurrently.
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given? Are two doses needed?
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. All the approved vaccines require two doses to provide the best possible protection. Even after one dose, there is a good level of protection against Covid-19, which is then boosted by the second dose. For further information about the vaccine visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/.
Which COVID vaccine will I get?
There are currently two COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the UK and have been given authorisation for supply by the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), for use in the UK national COVID-19 vaccination programme, Pfizer BioNTech COVID vaccine and AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.
Both have been shown to be effective in clinical trials and have a good safety record, both vaccines are being distributed to clinics. The NHS are not able to advise you which will be given to you as it would depend on the vaccination clinic that you are booked into. It is recommended that you should have whichever vaccine you are offered. Both the currently approved vaccines have been shown to be safe and to work well at preventing disease from the virus.
Has the Government adopted a mix and match dosing regime?
No. We do not recommend mixing the COVID-19 vaccines – if your first dose is the Pfizer vaccine you should not begiven the AstraZeneca vaccine for your second dose and vice versa.
When the 2nd dose will be given?
The latest evidence suggests the 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides protection for most people for up to 3 months. As a result of this evidence, when you can have the 2nd dose has changed. This is also to make sure as many people can have the vaccine as possible. The 2nd dose was previously 21 days after having the 1st dose, but has now changed to 12 weeks after. If you:
- have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose before Monday 4 January, keep your appointment
- have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose after Monday 4 January, the NHS will contact you about when you’ll have your 2nd dose
- are due to have your 1st dose after Wednesday 30 December, you’ll be given your 2nd dose 12 weeks later
Why has the dosage schedule for vaccines been changed?
The four UK Chief Medical Officers agree with JCVI advice that prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at-risk people overall in the shortest possible time. The decision we have taken will literally double the number of people who are protected over the next few crucial months. Everyone will still receive a second dose within 12 weeks of their first.
The MHRA has approved a longer gap between doses for both the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine. The latter has concerned some people. Specifically many are citing a figure of 52% for protection after the first dose.
To clarify, the 52% figure is the average protection over these 21 days, so it includes that initial time before the immune system has had time to create a response. If one instead looks at the day 10 to day 22 period one instead gets an efficacy value of 86% (there will be confidence intervals around that). Whereas if one looks at the day 0 to day 10 period there is an efficacy of 10%. The 52% figure is a combination of those two completely different scenarios. It's not useful. People shouldn't be citing it in this context.
For any more information explaining the 52% figure mentioned above, please visit: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1344347380917940226.html?fbclid=IwAR1CpwyYhLBILcadtKNy2AUvd2fbLVL9-ZdutSvBSPrqo3LjwpJCKdHaYFs.
Can I have the vaccine if I am of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding? (Updated 16 April 2021)
There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The JCVI has advised that pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group. There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in relation to pregnancy.
Real-world data from the United States shows that around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated, mainly with mRNA vaccines including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, without any safety concerns being raised. Based on this data, the JCVI advises that it’s preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.
The advice, published in Public Health England’s Green Book, a clinical professional guide for vaccinators in the UK, still advises that pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their clinician, including the latest evidence on safety and which vaccines they should receive. If you have any concerns, speak to a healthcare professional before having the vaccination. More info: http://nhs.uk/CovidVaccine.
The greatest risk factor for severe outcomes from COVID-19 is age, which is why pregnant women should be invited for vaccination along with their age or clinical risk group. Women who are planning pregnancy, are in the immediate postpartum, or are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine, depending on their age and clinical risk group.
The JCVI will continue to closely monitor the evidence on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and will update its advice as required.
For more information on the JCVI’s new advice on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-issues-new-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-for-pregnant-women. You can also view the updated guidance in the ‘COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a’, coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination information for public health professionals, at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-the-green-book-chapter-14a.
Do I need to get the vaccine if I have contracted COVID-19 and recovered?
Yes. There is a lot of uncertainty about how much immunity a person gains after natural infection. The levels of immunity that we can measure so far show a lot of individual variation – some people have very few antibodies after infection, but these antibodies can be boosted by vaccination. We can’t assume that everyone who has had COVID-19 would have enough immunity to protect them. It is likely that, in a significant proportion of the population, the vaccine will induce more effective and longer lasting immunity than that induced by infection. Hence it is recommended that everyone take the vaccine so that, if your immunity after disease is absent or low, it can be boosted.
However, if you've recently tested positive for coronavirus – even if you have no symptoms – you should wait until 4 weeks after the date you were tested before getting the vaccine.
If a person has tested positive do they have to wait for a period of time before being vaccinated and if so for how long?
Ideally vaccination should be deferred until clinical recovery – around four weeks after the onset of symptoms or four weeks from the first confirmed positive specimen in those who are asymptomatic. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody. Having prolonged COVID-19 symptoms is not a contraindication to receiving COVID-19 vaccine. See Green Book Ch. 14a p. 15.
Will the 100% vaccine stop COVID-19?
It is also important to remember that the exact strength and duration of immunity provided via vaccination is not yet known. Protection by vaccination takes time to build, requires a full course, and it is unknown how well the first vaccines will stop the virus passing between individuals.
How long will my vaccine be effective for?
We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer. This will be constantly monitored. COVID-19 remains a new infection and close observation by experts continues. At this stage it is unclear whether the vaccine will need to given yearly, like the flu vaccine, or less frequently. Trials for length of vaccine protection continue and will also inform how vaccination for COVID-19 is recommended in the future.
Do I still need to wear a mask or observe social distancing after receiving the vaccine?
Yes. We know the vaccine can protect people from getting sick from the disease COVID-19 that is caused by the viral infection. However, we do not yet know if being vaccinated will stop you from getting the viral infection, so you could be an asymptomatic carrier who could pass the infection onto others who may be vulnerable. As there is still a chance of contracting the virus or transmission to others, it is therefore very important to continue wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene.
What side effects can I expect after the vaccine?
Local reactions were commonly reported in the clinical trials for the COVID vaccine. This is similar to other vaccines you would have had previously. Over 8 out of every 10 people reported pain at the injection site during the clinical trials. This occurred within 7 days of the vaccine and resolved after a few days. Other reported side effects during the clinical trials included tiredness (6 out of every 10 people), headache (5 out of every 10 people), muscle aches (3 out of every 10 people), chills (3 out of every 10 people), joint pain (2 out of every 10 people), and a raised temperature (1 out of every 10 people). These symptoms were usually mild or moderate in intensity and resolved within a few days after vaccination. If you suffer from any of these symptoms you can take some analgesia such as paracetamol (which will also help to reduce your temperature if you have a raised temperature).
If you suffer any other adverse reaction to the COVID vaccine we would advise you to report this to the MHRA using the specially established Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting scheme (coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/ or call 0800 731 6789).
There have been some reports of patients having an immediate allergic reaction to the COVID vaccine. This has led to the MHRA announcement that the Pfizer COVID vaccine is not suitable for some patients with a history of severe allergic reactions. See answer to the question below – I have allergies – can I have the COVID vaccine?
Will the new variant of coronavirus detected stop the vaccine from working?
We are closely monitoring the spread of this variant in the UK, working with partners including public health teams in the regions, but there is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease. And it is considered unlikely at this stage that the vaccine will prove to be ineffective against this variant, and we know that PCR tests can detect it.
How worried should we be about the South African variant of coronavirus being resistant to the vaccine?
Sir Patrick Vallance has said: "On the question of the variants, as the virus replicates, you get changes in the genetic code as new mutations come in and things change. Those changes in the genetic code then lead to changes sometimes in parts of the protein. That may lead to shape changes or charge changes on the protein that might mean that the virus becomes recognized differently by the immune system. That’s really the concern that people are looking at.
If I take the UK variant, what we know is that those changes, and there was 22 changes in the genetic code, made the virus more transmissible. As far as we can see, it doesn’t make it hidden from the immune system. So if you’ve had an infection before, actually the evidence is that you probably neutralize this virus as well. The expectation is the same would be for a vaccine.
With the South Africa variant, there’s another change. That change is theoretically a bit more substantial in terms of the shape, if you like. So it has a bit more of an effect potentially on the shape of the viral protein, which theoretically gives it a bit more risk of not being recognized. But there’s nothing again yet to suggest that’s the case. So this is being looked at very actively.
It’s worth remembering that when a vaccine is given, you don’t just make one antibody against one bit. You make lots of antibodies against lots of different bits. It’s unlikely that all of that would be escaped by any mutation. It’s more likely that if there’s an effect, it’s a minor effect to decrease the binding or decrease the efficacy of the vaccine. But we don’t know yet for the South African one. That needs to be looked at, but it’s a theoretical risk.
Every time we see a variant, that’s going to be the question that comes up, and it needs to be looked at. But at the moment, you’d say that the most likely thing is that this wouldn’t abolish vaccine effect. It may have some overall effect on efficacy, but we don’t know."
What if the vaccine causes side-effects?
While severe side effects from vaccinations are rare, as a result of the rigorous testing and review process prior to usage, in the event that these effects occur, the Government has established the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS). This means that, if an individual is severely disabled as a result of a vaccination against certain diseases, they can receive a one-off-tax-free payment of £120,000. While the VDPS is primarily designed to cover adverse reactions for vaccination in the child immunisation programme, the scheme is kept under review at all times with further vaccination programmes included if appropriate. However, safety, effectiveness, and the ability to tolerate the vaccine are top priorities for manufacturers and regulators, and I fully support the system of clinical trials currently in place to minimise the risk of side effects.
Is there a concern over allergic reactions?
Two people with a history of significant allergic reactions had an adverse reaction to the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine-and both are recovering well. The NHS and the MHRA immediately took all necessary precautions and have advised that those with a similar strong history of allergic reactions should not receive the vaccine. Incidents such as these are common with new vaccines. The public can be reassured that we continue to adhere to the highest standards of safety as we provide this life-saving vaccine to those who need it most.
Please tell staff before you are vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). You should not have the vaccine if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction to medicines, vaccines or food. 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.
How to volunteer to help with Covid vaccinations
Over the past few months, the NHS has recruited and trained an 80,000 strong vaccination workforce. Including people from all parts of the NHS:
- retired clinicians
- airline cabin crew
- the armed services
- St John’s Ambulance
- The Royal Voluntary Service
To volunteers visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/join-the-nhs-covid-19-vaccine-team/
What staff and volunteers will be working in Vaccination Centres?
The mix of staff will differ from site to site, but will broadly include vaccinators and clinical supervisors, as well as administrative staff and stewards to ensure the effective and safe operation
of the service. Volunteers will play an important role in supporting the NHS to deliver this programme.
How can I volunteer?
Everyone in Essex has the chance to be a part of what is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever delivered through volunteering to help everything run smoothly. Morning, afternoon and evening shifts are available all over the county. Roles that are available include:
• Steward - You will be responsible for ensuring that people flow around the site efficiently and safely.
• Admin Support - You will be working closely with the rest of the team to ensure that data is recorded correctly.
• Healthcare Assistant* - You will be responsible for sanitising the vaccination pods and ensuring that vaccines can be delivered safely.
* These roles can both be paid and voluntary. More details available after application. You can find out more about the specifics of each role at https://bit.ly/39PxrPD
To sign up, please visit https://bit.ly/2XXuwiE
What PPE arrangements are in place for staff and volunteers?
Everyone involved in vaccination services will be given, and need to use, appropriate PPE, to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and patients.
Who gives the vaccination? / Are they qualified? What is the training?
If you have your vaccination at a GP surgery, it will be given by the doctor or the practice nurse. At Vaccination Centres, the vaccine will either be given by specially trained staff – either existing staff or those recruited specifically for the programme. There are a number of roles within the vaccination programme and these will require different levels of qualifications and experience.
Public Health England have compiled comprehensive training including injection administration, training on vaccines in general and the specific ones that will be used, and all the mandatory training NHS have to do. Locally, vaccinators will have inductions and orientation and importantly new vaccinators will be supervised and assessed by senior clinicians to ensure both their safety and of course the safety of the people they are vaccinating – just like any other vaccinator.
Will you be pulling staff away from other urgent and emergency care?
Our planning will ensure that there is as little as possible impact on other vital services by drawing on a pool of experienced NHS professionals through the NHS Bring Back Scheme, recruiting new vaccinators from amongst a wider group of healthcare professionals and others who complete training, and using independent Occupational Health providers.
Is red tape stopping medics coming out of retirement to help?
We have introduced new laws that allow more healthcare workers to administer both flu and potential Covid-19 vaccines – so that we’re ready when a vaccine is approved for use. Thanks to these changes, independent nurses, allied healthcare professionals, paramedics and pharmacists are now able to undergo robust training and be allowed to administer a vaccine.
An army of current and former NHS staff have applied to become vaccinators, with tens of thousands having already completed their online training. These are being processed as quickly as possible and volunteer vaccinators will be deployed as more vaccine supplies become available. We are incredibly grateful to medical staff looking to come out of retirement to help with the vaccination effort–and the Health Secretary is looking at how we can streamline this process.
Will the vaccine be mandatory? /Will I be forced to have the vaccination?
No, it will be voluntary. If you decide against it you would need to be aware that you are at greater risk of the virus and of passing it on. In the UK, we do not currently have mandatory vaccination but operate a system of informed consent – it is everyone’s responsibility to seek NHS advice to get the right information to make an informed choice. Our priority is to ensure any potential new Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and that the balance of benefits outweighs the harm from Covid-19.
The powers granted to the Government under the Coronavirus Act 2020 are made under and subject to the restrictions of the Control of Disease Act 1984. Under the 1984 Act, Ministers have the power to make regulations which prevent danger to public health and prevent the spread of infection, but these regulations do not include mandatory treatment or vaccination.
If I don’t have the vaccine, will greater restrictions be placed on me?
Not volunteering to take the vaccine will not mean any greater restrictions are placed on any individual.
What about vaccine passports?
Whilst on completion of both vaccinations, patients will be issued with a vaccine record card, this record does not constitute a vaccine passport. The vaccine record card is a common practice as with other vaccination programmes. This means if other countries require you to show proof of that evidence, you can get this from your GP.
While there are currently no confirmed plans to introduce domestic immunity certificates or “vaccine passports”, the Government has decided to conduct a review into the use of COVID certification.... READ MORE
Does the Vaccine containing human or animal products? / Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?
The vaccine doesn’t contain either human or animal products (so no porcine content either). There is no material of animal origin in either vaccine. Information on the vaccine ingredients have been provided by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. A full list of ingredients for the qualitative and quantitative composition of the vaccine and a full list of the excipient composition of the vaccine can be found:
- For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available online.
- For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available online.
I’ve heard you can catch flu from the flu jab – can you get Covid from this vaccination?
Taking flu first: the flu vaccination used in our country does not contain live virus, so it does not – and cannot – give anyone flu. If people do feel a bit under the weather after a flu jab it is because their own immune system is kicking in after the vaccination. Sometimes, if people catch a cold at the same as their vaccination they think it is due to the vaccine, but it isn’t – it’s just a coincidence. The Covid vaccination does not contain the actual virus, so it’s physically impossible to catch the disease from it.
What is being done to stop anti-vax news online?
We take anti-vaccination misinformation extremely seriously letting misinformation spread could cost British lives. We have secured a major commitment from Facebook, Twitter and Google to tackle it by not profiting from such material, and by responding to flagged content more swiftly. We continue to work closely with social media firms to promote authoritative sources of information, so people have access to vaccine facts not fiction.
What about Russian involvement in Oxford trials?
While a Russian pharmaceutical company is seeking to partner with Astra-Zeneca to manufacture the vaccination, they have had no involvement in clinical trials. I too read that the UK National Cyber Security Centre has reported drug companies and research groups were being targeted by a group known as APT29. They also clearly stated that none of the vaccine research has been compromised.
Will the Government insert a microchip in the vaccine?
No, this is in no way true. It is particularly important during the coronavirus outbreak that the public are provided with truthful information and guidance. The spread of rumours, lies and falsehoods can put lives in danger. Cross-government work is helping to identify false narratives and provide rebuttals to those claims.
Are squalene-containing vaccines safe?
Squalene oil is an adjuvant and is sourced primarily from shark liver oil. Adjuvants are often used in vaccines as they help to produce a more robust immune response. I am encouraged that just five of the 176 vaccines in development worldwide have squalene listed as an ingredient. I also note that squalene is used in only one UK licensed vaccine at present. I welcome recent scientific advancements which show that it is possible to produce a synthetic squalene suitable for vaccines. Biotechnology company Amyris is currently distributing samples of a sustainable and scalable synthetic squalene to pharmaceutical companies involved in the development and production of a coronavirus vaccines. I hope that scientists and manufacturers will continue to work together with companies like Amyris to develop life-saving, but sustainable, vaccines against coronavirus.
Does it change your DNA?
No, it definitely doesn’t. The content of the Covid vaccines does not go anywhere near our own genetic material and has no ability to change it or us.
Why only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children and young people?
At the time of publication, the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT612b2 vaccine is the only vaccine authorised for those less than 18 years of age in the UK (12 years or older). JCVI advises that only authorised COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to those aged less than 18 years.
The decision to only authorise the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children in the UK, for those aged 12 or older followed a US clinical trial in around 1,000 children aged 12 to 15 that found side effects in this group were generally short lived and mild to moderate.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children and young people?
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine wouldn't have been approved for UK use if it wasn't considered safe.
The Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine has been authorised for use in persons aged 12 years and over in the UK. This follows evidence from a clinical trial where around 1,000 individuals aged 12 to 15 years received 2 doses of the vaccine. There is good evidence that the vaccine is relatively reactogenic in this age group, with short-lived side effects including fever being common. There are emerging reports from the UK and other countries of rare but serious adverse events, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane around the heart), following the use of Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 and Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccines in younger adults.
These reports are being closely evaluated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and JCVI. Data on the incidence of these events in children and young people are currently limited, and the longer-term health effects from the myocarditis events reported are not yet well understood. See MHRA reports on COVID-19 vaccines.
Any decision on deployment of vaccines must be made on the basis that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks to those people who are vaccinated.
What about children and young people who are clinically extremely vulnerable but aren’t eligible for the vaccine?
Government advisers are currently reviewing evidence on the risk of COVID-19 in children and young people considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Once this review has reported, the finding will be considered by JCVI and will inform further guidance.
Why not routine universal COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people less than 18 years of age?
Until more data becomes available, JCVI does not currently advise routine universal vaccination of children and young people less than 18 years of age. JCVI will keep this advice under review as more safety and effectiveness information become available on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children and young people.
Evidence shows that COVID-19 rarely causes severe disease in children without underlying health conditions. The health benefits in this population are small, and the benefits to the wider population are highly uncertain. At this time, JCVI is of the view that the health benefits of universal vaccination in children and young people below the age of 18 years do not outweigh the potential risks.
Almost all children and young people are at very low risk from COVID-19. Symptoms, when seen, are typically mild and fewer than 30 children have died because of COVID-19 in the UK as of March 2021.
Future advice on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people?
Clinical trials are underway in pre-school and primary-school aged students. Vaccines are only likely to be approved for use in these age groups after summer 2021. JCVI will continue to update its advice as new data emerge.
What about those who are nearly 18, will they be offered the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Operationally, it is considered reasonable to allow a lead-in time to offer vaccination to those children who are within three months of their 18th birthday to ensure good uptake of vaccine in newly-turned 18 year olds.
Guide for older adults: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-guide-for-older-adults.
Women of childbearing age, currently pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-women-of-childbearing-age-currently-pregnant-planning-a-pregnancy-or-breastfeeding.
Guide for healthcare workers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-guide-for-healthcare-workers.
Guide for social care staff: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-a-guide-for-social-care-staff.
What to expect after vaccination: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-what-to-expect-after-vaccination.
For all the latest information on the national vaccination programme, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrIiIq8PB7QIVCrTtCh0r0Q3YEAAYASAAEgILIPD_BwE.