Following extensive trials, the first safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in the UK and is now available to priority groups.
Vaccinations are being delivered according to priority groups identified by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The vaccinations will take place at a local vaccination service (led by GPs, practice nurses and community pharmacists) who are responsible for delivering the vaccine to people in your community.
The NHS is prioritising the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. When it is your turn to get the vaccine you will be contacted. This may be by phone or letter from your GP or national NHS booking service.
Please do not contact us to get an appointment until you are contacted.
How will patients be invited for a vaccination?
When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?
Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said this vaccine is very safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. 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.
How long does the vaccine take to become effective?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your suffering from COVID-19 disease. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?
If you’re a frontline worker in the NHS, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you and may help to protect your family and those you care for.
The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.
Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?
Yes, the Pfizer vaccine does not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products.
If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs.
Who cannot have the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
This is all included in the information published by the MHRA, and Public Health England will also be publishing more resources for patients and professionals. People can be assured the NHS will ensure that they have all the necessary information on those vaccines that are approved by the MHRA before they attend for their vaccination.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?
Yes. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has made this decision, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process.
What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?
The phase three study of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 95%, with consistent efficacy across age, gender and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan.
I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?
Yes, they should get vaccinated. 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, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.
Are there any known or anticipated side effects?
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Very common side effects include:
- Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine
- Feeling tired
- General aches, or mild flu like symptoms
As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.
How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?
You are required to have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 21 days apart. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of vaccine.
I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?
The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me from flu?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu. If you have been offered a flu vaccine, please try to have this as soon as possible to help protect you, your family and patients from flu this winter.
Vaccination Centre FAQs
Which members of the public are being offered the Covid-19 vaccine at the moment?
The NHS is currently in the process of offering the vaccine to people aged 80 and over, those who live or work in care home, and frontline health and social care staff. When everyone in these groups has had the chance to get their first dose of the vaccine the programme will expand to other people that are at risk either due to their age group or medical condition in line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations.
What are the different ways members of the public might be contacted to get their vaccination?
- Local hospital services – you might be contacted either to have the vaccine as an inpatient or at an outpatient appointment.
- Local GP services – practices in your area are working together to contact and offer the vaccine to as many people as possible. This may be at a different surgery than you usually go to, or at a venue we have set up specially to deliver vaccines.
- Through your care home – GPs and their teams are also arranging to vaccinate care home residents directly, in their homes.
- A letter from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service to book online or by phone. Booking through this service will give you the option of having the vaccine at a special Vaccination Centre, or potentially a community pharmacy depending on whether these are available locally.
I’ve already had my first jab, how do I get my second?
If you have had your first jab already through a hospital or GP services, the local NHS will contact you about getting your second. If you have received a letter from the national booking service and you have already had your first dose of the vaccination, please ignore the letter. This service will require you to book appointments for both doses of the vaccination at the same time.
I’ve contacted the national booking service but I can’t travel to one of the locations that are available, what should I do?
More locations will become available in the coming weeks so you could try again later.
Alternatively, you can choose to wait until your local GP service invites you for the vaccine.
If you are housebound and unable to leave the house to travel to any appointment, and cannot arrange for someone to help you, your local NHS services will be in contact with you.
I have received a letter but I have already booked or attended an appointment at a local GP service. What should I do?
If you already have a vaccination booked through your GP please ignore the letter –there is nothing you need to do.
I have the letter but don’t understand how I book my appointment?
If you have received a letter from the national booking centre inviting you to book your Covid-19vaccination you can do this online or on the phone using the details on the first page of the letter.
You will need your name, date of birth and NHS number to book. At the time of booking you will be asked to book your first vaccination and your follow up vaccination for 11 to 12 weeks’ time.
I have received a letter about booking my appointment. Can I contact my GP to do this?
No, please do not contact your GP surgery. We cannot help you to book into the Vaccination Centre.
Please use the details in the letter to book your appointment directly.
I have received invites to get vaccinated from both a local GP service and the national system, but haven’t booked with either yet. Can I choose where to go?
Will people who have had their vaccination through a hospital, GP or care home still receive a letter to book through nhs.uk or by ringing 119?
This may happen in a small number of cases.
If people have had their first vaccination through a hospital or GP service, of if they are in a care home, this information will flow through to the national NHS system.
If this is recorded on the national system before the national booking letter is printed then it will flag not to send that person the national booking letter. There are likely to be cases where the letter is printed to be sent and then person subsequently has their vaccination recorded and therefore is sent the national booking letter. The booking letter explains this and says that if people have already had their first dose to not book through nhs.uk or 119.
My neighbours / friends have received a letter from the national vaccination centre to book their jab. Why haven’t I received mine?
The NHS is inviting people for vaccinations based on expert advice on who would benefit most. This has been set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). At the moment we are focusing on people aged 80 and over, people who live or work in care homes, and health and social care staff. If you are in one of these groups you will be invited to book your vaccine soon.
A vaccination programme of this size and scale will still take some time to roll out in full. Please be assured that everyone who needs the vaccine will be offered it.
The NHS will be in touch with you when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Please don’t call us before you are invited.
What will the opening hours of vaccination centres be?
Standard opening times for vaccination centres will be 8am –8pm, seven days a week.
What are the operating hours of the telephone booking system?
The telephone booking service will be open 16 hours a day (from 7am until 11pm), seven days a week. People will also be able to book online 24/7.
What if I can’t get to the Vaccination Centre?
People who are housebound will be contacted by their GP services about alternative ways to get vaccinated. People can also wait until more locations closer to where they live become available. The NHS will follow up with people that haven’t booked their appointment, as a reminder.
What staff and volunteers will be working in Vaccination Centres?
The centres will be staffed by vaccinators and clinical supervisors, as well as administrative staff and stewards to ensure the effective and safe operation of the service. These will largely be new and existing paid NHS staff, but volunteers–including from St John Ambulance or the NHS Volunteer Responder programme -will also play an important role.
Are Vaccination Centres safe?
Yes. Staff at these sites will wear appropriate PPE and there will be social distancing and cleaning measures in place to keep everyone safe.
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.
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. You can alternatively book online. If you need help to do this, please ask someone in your support bubble.
Does this service work for people who don’t understand English well or are deaf?
The phone line will have interpreters and a BSL facility available on request to help you book your appointments.