A safe and effective vaccine is our best hope of defeating coronavirus and returning to life as normal. The UK Government has secured access to more than 355 million doses through agreements with seven separate vaccine developers – giving the UK the best shot of having early access to vaccines that are found to be safe and effective - and the NHS is leading a UK-wide NHS led programme of vaccine distribution.
What are the NHS’s realistic expectations for the vaccination programme in the coming weeks? (18th January update)
Across the UK we’ve given over 4 million vaccine doses and we’re currently vaccinating more than double the rate – per person per day – than any other country in Europe. Latest data show that we’ve now vaccinated more than half of those over 80 as well as half of our elderly care home residents. Care home residents are in the very top priority group and almost a quarter of older care home residents have now received their first dose of the vaccine. We’re on track to deliver our plan to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February, the groups that account for 88% of COVID deaths. The NHS is committed to reaching every care home resident this month.
More than 1,000 vaccination sites have already been established across the UK and hundreds more are opening this month. As of Friday, 96% of the population in England lived within 10 miles of a vaccination site and we’re expanding the number of vaccination sites further, right across the whole of the UK. This expansion will include community pharmacy and roving vaccination centres, on top of the hospitals, GP practices, and mass vaccination centres. This huge expansion means that by the end of January everyone will live 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.
By the middle of February, if things go well and with a fair wind in our sails, we expect to have offered the first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups (approximately 15 Million people) identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This requires a lot of people working together in the NHS and the armed services, the NHS is going to have to use multiple channels to get this out, but they are very determined to do this and every aspect of government is working absolutely flat out to support them.
That means vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70, all frontline health and social care workers, and everyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus. And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long. We must stress that even if we achieve this goal, there remains a time lag of two to three weeks from getting a jab to receiving immunity. And there will be a further time lag before the pressure on the NHS is lifted.
The vaccines will be delivered in 3 different ways. Firstly, in hospital hubs. Second, we through local community services, including GPs and in due course pharmacies too. And, third, we will stand up vaccination centres in conference centres and sports venues, to vaccinate large numbers of people as more vaccines come on stream.
READ MORE: UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan
MESSAGE FROM THE NHS: This is a phased vaccination programme which will expand over the coming weeks. The NHS will be in contact with people when it is their turn to have the vaccine. If called for an appointment, please can make sure you attend. Please continue to abide by all the social distancing and hand hygiene guidance.
LOCAL Vaccine Information
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 in due course pharmacies as well)
GP-led programme (18th January update)
More local GPs begin offering COVID Vaccine as part of biggest ever NHS immunisation programme -local vaccination services run by family doctors and their teams will open across mid and south Essex, as the roll out of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history continues. Further vaccination centres are launching this month (including in Castle Point). GPs will contact people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine and local residents are being asked not to contact their practice enquiring about vaccination. Patients receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine by injection into their upper arm, at least 21 days apart.
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, outlined below:
- Benfleet Surgery
- Dr Chaudhury
- Dr Ghauri
- Dr Khan and Partners (Rushbottom Lane)
- Dr P A Patel
- Dr Richards
- Essex Way Surgery
- High Road Family Doctors
- Oaklands Surgery
- St George's Medical Practice (Rushbottom Lane)
- The Hollies Surgery
- The Island Surgery
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
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.
Letters have been sent out in the last few days to people aged 80 who live up to a 45 minute drive from the new 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://eput.nhs.uk/news-events/coronavirus/coronavirus-vaccine/
Transport to Benfleet Hub & 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
Who gets the vaccine first?
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 of 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 priority list for the first phase is as follows:
- 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
When will I get my vaccine?
The NHS target for vaccinating top 4 priority groups is between January to mid February. This covers around 32 million people, these groups are:
- Older care home residents – 0.3 million people
- Care home workers – 0.5 million people
- People aged 80+ – 2.3 million people
- Health and social care workers – 3.8 million people
- Ages: 75 to 79 – 2.3 million people
- Ages: 70 to 74 – 3.2 million people
- Clinically extremely vulnerable people (under 70) – 1.2 million people
The NHS target for vaccinating the remaining priority groups is between End of February to April. These groups are:
- Ages: 65 to 69 – 2.9 million people
- Ages: 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions – 7.3 million people
- Ages: 60 to 64 – 1.8 million people
- Ages: 55 to 59 – 2.4 million people
- Ages: 50 to 54 – 2.8 million people
By the Autumn, the programme expanded to the rest of adult population – 21 million people (aprox.) and the NHS hopes to offer every adult their first vaccine by September.
Why are some areas getting the vaccine quicker than others?
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 everybody in the top four groups will be offered by the NHS that jab by the 15th February and we're on track to meet that target.
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 on this is expected to be made by mid-February.
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/.
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.
I have not been invited – should I have been?
All those who are eligible to be offered the COVID vaccine at this time are being contacted. The Government has asked the NHS to initially focus on those who are at highest risk of serious COVID complications. Everybody will be invited to have the vaccination but the programme will take several months.
Who do I contact to get my vaccine?
Please wait to be contacted. The NHS will contact you when it’s your turn to have the vaccine, so please do not contact the NHS or your GP practice for a vaccination before then. For most people this will be a letter, either from your GP or the national NHS. This letter will include all the information you will need to book appointments, including your NHS number. More people aged 80+ will be receiving a national NHS letter inviting them to book a COVID vaccination at a vaccination centre. If they would prefer a local appointment arranged by their own GP, they can wait and will be contacted shortly. Please make sure you attend your appointments when you arrange them. Continue to abide by all the social distancing and hand hygiene guidance, which will still save lives.
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.
The Government has asked us to initially focus on those who are at highest risk of serious COVID complications – this principally being people who are over 80 years old, alongside people who work in care homes and some people who work in health and care who are classified as ‘high risk’.
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?
If you are unable to get to a hospital vaccine hub, you will still be offered the vaccination, nearer to you or possibly 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?
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.
If a household has a priority group member, such as an NHS frontline worker or vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?
These decisions are for the JCVI. The current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.
Can I have the vaccine if I am of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding? (Updated 3 January 2020)
There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you’re:
- pregnant and at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus
- if you’re breastfeeding
Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine with you.
You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19. Read the latest COVID-19 vaccine advice if you’re pregnant, may get pregnant or are breastfeeding at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-women-of-childbearing-age-currently-pregnant-planning-a-pregnancy-or-breastfeeding.
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 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.
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.
Will the vaccine be mandatory?
No, it will be voluntary. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What preparation has been made to distribute a vaccine?
An enormous amount of preparation is taking place, including making sure we have adequate provision, transport, PPE and logistical expertise to support the rollout. If a vaccine is approved, we will commence a UK-wide NHS led programme of vaccine distribution and the NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens has made clear that the NHS is gearing up and will be ready-they have vast experience in delivering widespread vaccination programmes. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced that vaccination clinics, will open 7 days a week, and given addition to an extra £150m for GPs to support this work. These measures will help to enable a mass rollout of the vaccination at the earliest possible time.
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/
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 end of the transition period stop us getting the vaccine into the country?
No. We have got several contingency plans in place so that leaving the EU will not have any effect on the deployment of this vaccine. A huge amount of planning has gone into border preparations for the end of this year, including £705 million to prepare jobs, technology and infrastructure at the border.
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.
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.