Vaccine Update Booster Jabs: A booster dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is available for everyone aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, who have had 2 doses of the vaccine at least 3 months ago.
#GetBoostedNow Book your COVID-19 booster dose appointment online. OR Find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site
A booster dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine helps improve the protection you have from your first 2 doses of the vaccine. It helps give you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Booster doses will be available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a 2nd dose of a vaccine at least 3 months ago. People who are pregnant and in 1 of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose. Most people can:
- book a vaccination appointment online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
- go to a walk-in vaccination site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
- wait to be contacted by a local NHS service such as a GP surgery and book an appointment with them
People who work for an NHS trust or a care home will usually get their booster dose through their employer. If you have a weakened immune system and have had a 3rd dose of the vaccine, you can get a booster dose from 3 months after your 3rd dose. Your GP or hospital specialist will invite you for your booster dose when it's due.
If you have recently had a positive COVID-19 test, you need to wait before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. People aged 18 and over, and eligible children aged 12 to 15, need to wait 4 weeks. Young people aged 16 and 17 need to wait 12 weeks.
Which COVID-19 vaccine will I get?
Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine. This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your 1st and 2nd doses. Some people may be offered a booster dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
Most people who can get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine. If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time. Find out more about the flu vaccine
The UK's Vaccine Sucess
Vaccines are our best hope of defeating coronavirus and making sure life returns to normal. On 16 February 2022, 91% of the over 12 population had received the first dose, 85% had received a second dose and 66% had received a booster dose.
The UK was the first country in the world to procure, authorise and then deploy both the Oxford and Pfizer vaccines. 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. Thanks to the heroic efforts of our NHS, armed forces & countless volunteers, and the continued success of our historic vaccination programme- the link between infections and hospitalisations have been severely weakened, with an estimated 8.5 million infections and 30,000 deaths prevented in England alone.
The NHS is also encouraging pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This is because new data shows that nearly 20% of the most critically ill COVID patients are unvaccinated pregnant women.
Since July, one in five COVID patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were expectant mums who have not had their first jab. Pregnant women have been treated with a therapy called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). This is an incredibly invasive treatment and is used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by COVID that a ventilator is unable to maintain their oxygen levels. Out of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 on ECMO in intensive care, pregnant women now make up almost a third of the total at 32%, up from just 6% at the start of the pandemic.
If you're pregnant and have not had a COVID-19 vaccine yet, it's preferable for you to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. This is because these vaccines have been more widely used during pregnancy and no safety concerns have been identified. NHS England has said that data from more than 100,000 Covid vaccinations in pregnancy in England and Scotland, and a further 160,000 in the US, show there has been no subsequent harm to the foetus or infant. Vaccination is the best method to protect both you and your baby.
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/.
Castle Point Primary Care Networks
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 2021). The Primary Care Network is made up of the local GP surgery's working together to deliver 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.
Mass vaccination centres & Community pharmacies
There are a number of NHS large vaccination centres in Essex. These can give hundreds of vaccines a day, thousands a week, scaling up and down according to vaccine supplies. The first COVID-19 NHS large vaccination centre in Essex opened on 18 January 2021. 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. NHS staff will administer thousands of doses a week. Runnymede Hall in Thundersley also opened in 2021.
- Asif’s New Pharmacy – Hadleigh
- Cross Chemist – Benfleet
- Elora Pharmacy – Benfleet
- Others include: Apple Tree Pharmacy – Chelmsford, Asda Pharmacy, Colchester, Asda Pharmacy, Southend, Audley Mills Community Pharmacy, Rayleigh, Boots, Basildon, Bridgewater Pharmacy – Westcliff On Sea, Cavalry Road Pharmacy, Colchester, Christchurch Clinics (Christchurch Pharmacy), Braintree, Essex Pharmacy, Tilbury, Ferry Pharmacy – Hockley, Galleywood Pharmacy – Chelmsford, Hawkwell Pharmacy – Hawkwell, Kalson’s Chemist– Westcliff On Sea, Lloyds Pharmacy – Witham, Leigh Pharmacy, Leigh, Melbourne Pharmacy, Chelmsford, Murray Miller Pharmacy – Southend On Sea, Rays Pharmacy – Southend On Sea, Rowlands Pharmacy, Leigh on Sea, Speedwell Pharmacy – Maylandsea, Tesco Chelmsford – Princes Road, Tesco Pharmacy, Springfield Road, Chelmsford, Tollesbury Pharmacy, Maldon, The Pillbox Pharmacy, Chelmsford
Hospital led vaccination centres:
- Basildon Hospital (Healthcare workers), Broomfield Hospital (Healthcare workers), Southend Hospital (Healthcare workers)
Helpline – If you live in Essex, and need further help to book an appointment, you can ring 0344 2573 961 (open 9am-4pm, local rate).
I have no transport to get to a 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. Your primary care provider will arrange this for you.
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 estimates 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 your family safe, which will over time lead to a lifting of restrictions and help us all return to a more normal life.
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 a 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 the 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 before getting the vaccine. 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 antibodies. Having prolonged COVID-19 symptoms is not a contraindication to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. See Green Book Ch. 14a p. 15.
Why should a child get the Covid-19 vaccine?
Getting the vaccine will help to protect children and young people against COVID-19. Whilst most children usually have mild illness, they can pass on their infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with. Getting vaccinated will also help to reduce the chance of disruption to their education from COVID-19. This is an important decision and further information is supplied with this letter to help children and their parents to make an informed decision. READ MORE
Omicron: Why do boosters work if two doses struggle?
The vaccines were all developed to fight the first form of the virus that emerged two years ago. Two doses of some vaccines offer little protection from an Omicron infection, although they should still greatly reduce the risk of becoming so ill you need hospital care. So can a third or "booster" dose of those original vaccines make the difference or has Omicron already outwitted the protection they can give? Fortunately for us - while the contents of the syringe may be identical, a booster is not just more of the same for the immune system. The protection you're left with after the third dose is bigger, broader and more memorable than you had before.
Fighting coronavirus is something your immune system has to learn. One option is to figure it out on the job when you encounter the virus for real. However, there is a risk of getting it wrong and ending up seriously ill. Vaccines are more like a school - a safer environment to further your immune system's Covid education. The first dose is the primary school education that nails the fundamentals. Your second and third doses are comparable to sending your immune system to secondary school and then university to dramatically deepen its understanding. It's not just repeating primary school over and over.
"The immune system is left with a richer knowledge and understanding of the virus," said Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist from the University of Nottingham. He said for all the talk of the dastardly tricks of Omicron, a highly-trained immune system is "an incredibly difficult and hostile environment" for the virus and its variants.
Antibodies are a major beneficiary of this education. These are the sticky proteins that attach themselves to the outside of the coronavirus. Neutralising antibodies can gum up the virus so it can't invade your cells. Others sit there as the biological equivalent of a flashing neon sign spelling out "kill this virus". A flurry of laboratory studies and real-world data showed the neutralising antibodies you have after two doses of a Covid vaccine were far less effective against Omicron.
Prof Danny Altmann, an immunologist from Imperial College London, said you were left with "absolutely zilch" and were a "sitting duck for infection". So back to school. Every dose of the vaccine triggers another round of antibody evolution within the immune system. It seeks out better antibodies that attach themselves more firmly to the virus. It's a process called affinity maturation. "Your antibodies are a better fit as time goes on, they are getting fancier and more sophisticated," said Prof Altmann.
If the antibodies are able to bind more tightly to the coronavirus then it will be harder for Omicron's mutations to help it wriggle free. And while the new variant is heavily mutated, it is still the same fundamental virus and has parts that have not changed at all. Further rounds of vaccination also lead to the immune system broadening its antibody repertoire as it finds new ways of attacking the virus.
It's not just about the quality of antibodies, the quantity goes up with boosting too. Prof Charles Bangham, from Imperial, said: "You get more of them, the concentration in the blood increases and we don't know how long this is going to last, but the more times you're vaccinated the longer-lasting the immune memory is." The impact of all this is clear in the same studies that showed two doses were weaker against Omicron. The protection against getting any Covid symptoms shot up to around 75% after the booster. Elsewhere in the immune system, boosting is giving our bodies the upper hand against future variants too.
B-cells are the part of the body that mass-produce antibodies. Some mature to produce those super-sticky, highly refined antibodies after boosting. Others can spot coronavirus but remain half-baked and flexible. "These can go off in different directions and when they proliferate they start to go after the new variant," said Prof Ball. And then there are T-cells, which again become more plentiful and better at attacking Covid viruses in response to boosting. T-cells use a different trick to spot the virus and patrol our body looking for any sign of cells being infected with Covid. T-cells recognise parts of the coronavirus that the virus finds harder to mutate.
So while Omicron is squirming away from our immune system, each vaccine dose and indeed each infection is giving our body's defences more tools to hunt it down. All this bodes well for vaccines protecting us from becoming seriously ill. "Immunity against a virus is almost never absolute - you can almost always get re-infected and what you want to do is get re-infection so trivial you don't know you've got it or it's very mild," said Prof Bangham. BBC SOURCE
When should the COVID-19 Booster jabs be given to all eligible adults in England aged 18 and over?
In response to the changing risk posed by the Omicron variant, the booster will now be given no sooner than 3 months after the primary course.
How will the Government ensure all eligible adults in England aged 18 and over will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine?
To speed up the vaccination programme, around 400 military personnel will be drafted in to support deployment, with 1,500 community pharmacy sites, additional hospital hubs, and pop-up sites opening in convenient locations across the country. More than 3,000 sites are already open in England - more than double the number in February.
Payments to GPs, community pharmacies and primary care staff will increase to £15 a dose until the end of January. To increase capacity on Sundays, when many community pharmacists are not normally open, the NHS will offer an additional £5 a shot.
To ensure the most vulnerable are prioritised, the NHS will also offer £30 extra for vaccinations delivered to those who are housebound until the end of next month.
Who can get a booster vaccine?
Booster vaccines are now open to everyone over the age of 30. From Wednesday 15 December, those aged between 18-29 can book their COVID-19 booster vaccination as long as it has been three months since your second dose.
Where can I get my COVID-19 booster vaccination?
Pre-bookable appointments are available at large vaccination centres and sites such as a community pharmacies. There are also a number of walk-in clinics offering vaccinations, although you may have to wait to get a jab at these sites. Essex County Council has worked with the NHS and a new vaccination centre will be opening at County Hall in Chelmsford on Tuesday 21st December. This weekend Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) is hosting a Big Vaccination Weekend at Chelmsford City Racecourse. This is a pop-up clinic so appointments must be booked via a separate link here.
How do I book my booster vaccine?
Pre-booked appointments can be made online at Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS (www.nhs.uk). The website is experiencing high demand at the moment so you may be held in a queue for a short time. Please be patient and keep trying. You can also telephone 119. A list of walk-in COVID-19 vaccination sites is also available at: Find a walk-in coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site - NHS (www.nhs.uk).
What type of vaccine will I get for my booster?
You will most likely receive the Pfizer of Moderna vaccine as these have been shown to be very effective as boosters, no matter what vaccine you had for your first two doses. People who can't have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine may be offered AstraZeneca for their booster. There is no need for your booster to be the same vaccine you had for your first two doses.
What side effects will I experience after my booster jab?
Studies showed that all boosters can have short term side-effects, which are similar to those that have been seen with first and second doses. These include a sore arm, tiredness, a headache and muscle pains. People aged under 70 are more likely to have short-term side effects, but they can be treated with paracetamol and don’t usually last for more than a day or two.
Can I have a booster if I have COVID symptoms?
If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should take a test and self-isolate until you get your results. Whilst you are waiting for your results, you should not attend your booster appointment (make sure to log in and reschedule your booking). If you test positive, you need to wait four weeks (28 days) from the day of your positive test to have a booster. If you receive a negative test, and are feeling well enough, you may attend your appointment.
Apart from getting my booster, how else do I protect against COVID-19 infection?
With the emergence of Omicron it is more important than ever we continue to practice Hands. Face. Space. Everyone should wash their hands regularly, wear a face covering in crowded spaces and make space between each other wherever possible. Ventilation is also important, particularly if someone in your household has COVID-19 or if you are indoors with people you do not live with. Bringing fresh air into a room and removing older stale air that contains virus particles reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19. The more fresh air that is brought inside, the quicker any airborne virus will be removed from the room. Government advice has changed so all residents should work from home if they are able to do so. We are also asking residents across Essex to test regularly for COVID, whether they have symptoms or not. More information on Testing is below.
If I have had my booster, do I still need to test for COVID-19?
Regular testing for COVID-19 is still very important because you may be carrying the virus without realising. While it is much less likely, it is still possible to catch COVID-19 after having a booster dose. Getting the booster will reduce your risk of becoming seriously unwell if you do catch the virus, as well as offering you longer-lasting protection.
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 payslips
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 does 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
What are mRNA vaccines?
In the UK, two of the three approved Covid-19 vaccines , the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine - use mRNA technology. The mRNA vaccines have been tested for safety and effectiveness like any other vaccine. While this is the first time mRNA vaccines have become available to the public, the technology behind mRNA vaccines has been developed over a number of years. The Covid-19 vaccines have been tested to the same high standards as any vaccine would be. While side effects are common, these are overwhelmingly minor and pass within a few days.
Many vaccines work by introducing a weakened or inactive virus or bacteria into the body which triggers the immune system to produce antibodies in response. These antibodies then protect the body if it comes into contact with the real thing.
Covid-19 mRNA vaccines go one step back in the process. Once inside the body, the mRNA works to build the spike proteins on the surface of the Covid-19 virus. The body then responds by producing antibodies which attack those proteins.This means that if it is later infected, the body will be able to generate a faster and more effective immune response to the virus.
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.
What side effects can I expect after the vaccine? The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. They can cause some side effects, but not everyone gets them. Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
- a sore arm from the injection
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
- feeling or being sick
More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare. Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines side effects and safety
What if the vaccine causes side effects?
Please tell the 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.
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).
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 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.
Will the vaccines stop me getting COVID 100%?
No, but all the vaccines available significantly reduce the risk of developing Covid-19. Studies have found that people given one dose of the Pfizer vaccine have a 70% reduced risk of becoming infected, both with and without symptoms, rising to 85% after the second dose. This data comes from healthcare workers who were tested for Covid every two weeks, regardless of whether they had symptoms.
Data in adults over 70 shows that both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccines are between 60-70% effective against symptomatic disease around a month after the first dose, and 85-90% after the second dose of Pfizer (this particular study didn’t look at the effect after two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine).
Evidence suggests the vaccines also stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19. The evidence suggests that one dose of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines significantly reduces your chances of passing on the virus to members of your household, if you do catch it. Initial research, covering over a million contacts in the UK, has found that people who became infected three weeks after their first vaccination were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus onto household contacts. This protection appeared from around two weeks after the vaccination, and was regardless of age.
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, pharmacists, airline cabin crew, the armed services, St John’s Ambulance, The Royal Voluntary Service.
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 are available after application.
- St John Ambulance is currently working through its networks to mobilise and reengage existing vaccination volunteers. If you’re an existing volunteer, you will be contacted by the re-engagement programme or you can reach out to your volunteering lead. If you’re new to St John Ambulance you can find out more on the St John Ambulance website.
- NHS Volunteer Responders, a partnership between the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service and GoodSAM, is currently recruiting to up to 30,000 additional steward volunteer roles. Opportunities also remain available for members of the public who are able to support their neighbours and the NHS through a number of different roles – including food or medication deliveries, lifts to medical appointments or ‘check-in and chat’ phone calls. If you are interested in these roles you can find out more at the NHS Volunteer Responder website.
- Many local NHS services are also using their own volunteer schemes, and you can check their websites for details.
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.
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.
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.
What about vaccine passports? (updated Dec 2021)
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.
We are not introducing 'vaccine passports' – a negative test is enough. The Government is not proceeding with 'vaccine passports' as originally intended in Plan B – instead negative tests will be allowed. Anyone will be able to attend mass events and nightclubs if they show proof of a negative lateral flow test, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated people can get lateral flow tests for free from gov.uk or pharmacies and take them at home. People who have had two vaccine doses will not need to take a test. Plan B is not lockdown. There are no business closures and no restrictions on social gatherings. Work from home is in guidance – there is no mandatory stay at home order. The only legal restrictions are mandatory face masks in most indoor public places and requiring proof of a negative test or double vaccination to enter some venues (specifically nightclubs and mass events, but not pubs or restaurants).
Does the Vaccine contain 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 has 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.
Have the vaccines been safely tested on animals?
Yes. The Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have all been tested on animals.
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 lies 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.
How do we know that COVID-19 is real and has it ever been isolated?
This virus absolutely is real and it is irresponsible to suggest otherwise. COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the virus Sars-COV-2, and this virus was first discovered in China almost 2 years ago. In 2020 Canadian scientists successfully isolated the virus from two specimens, ensuring access to a pure sample of the virus outside the human body. This was a vital step in improving our understanding of the illness, helping scientists around the globe to develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, and vaccines.
As a result of cases rising across the globe, the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic in March 2020. The virus has now been sequenced over a million times alone in the UK and the work of laboratories across the world in identifying any potential new variants has been invaluable. Once the virus was sequenced incredibly accurate tests could then be developed. These Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests identify whether the genetic sequence for COVID-19 is present in the sample. They have been invaluable in identifying the cases of COVID-19 and allowed for successful isolation and contact tracing to take place.
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 synthetic squalene suitable for vaccines. Biotechnology company Amyris is currently distributing samples of sustainable and scalable synthetic squalene to pharmaceutical companies involved in the development and production of 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 the Moderna vaccine contain Chloroform?
There are posts circulating on social media regarding SM-102, a lipid ingredient of the Moderna vaccine. I would like to reassure you that the claims surrounding the safety of the SM-102 ingredient only apply when SM-102 is in a mixed solution with chloroform, which as you may be aware is toxic. While the Moderna vaccine does contain SM-102, it absolutely does not contain chloroform. This has been confirmed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which has also confirmed that they are not aware of any reason for specific concerns with the safety of SM-102.
The organisation Full Fact has provided an explanation of this issue in light of recent social media posts, which can be found here: https://fullfact.org/health/SM-102/
Do the vaccines contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
Some of the vaccines do contain GMOs. For example, the AstraZeneca vaccine uses a modified version of a virus, which carries the genetic instructions for producing the coronavirus spike protein into human cells, without replicating itself and infecting the body.
Do the vaccines contain aborted human or monkey cells?
No. Some vaccines use a virus as the active ingredient. For example, the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine uses a virus. Viruses need cells to replicate, so vaccine manufacturers use cells to manufacture enough of the virus for their vaccines. For example, the influenza vaccine is often made using chicken eggs.
For the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the virus is replicated using modified copies of cells taken from an aborted foetus in the 1970s. This cell line is called HEK-293. So the vaccines are produced using copies of copies of these cells, rather than the original foetal cells themselves. And while the cells are used to grow the virus, they are filtered out of the vaccine, meaning neither vaccine “contain[s] aborted human...cells.”
It’s unclear where the reference to monkey cells comes from, but it may be a misinterpretation of the fact that the virus used in the AstraZeneca vaccine is an altered version of a virus that typically infects chimpanzees. This doesn’t mean it comes from chimpanzees.
Does the vaccine change your DNA?
No, it does not. It is a myth, one often spread intentionally by anti-vaccination activists to deliberately generate confusion and mistrust. The content of the Covid vaccines does not go anywhere near our own genetic material and has no ability to change it or us.
Vaccines work by training the immune system to recognize a pathogen when it attempts to infect the body - this is mostly done by the injection of viral antigens or weakened live viruses that stimulate an immune response through the production of antibodies. The DNA [in DNA vaccines] does not integrate into the cell nucleus so this isn’t genetic modification - if the cells divide they will only include your natural DNA.
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.
Has Covid-19 been caused by 5G?
NO! Scientists have made it clear that there is no link between 5G and coronavirus. A connection with the virus is ‘both a physical and biological impossibility'. This is a conspiracy theory that has come about as a result of false information online. Damaging telecoms infrastructure is particularly dangerous and anyone responsible for these criminal acts will face the full force of the law.
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.