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What is COVID-19 or coronavirus? Easy read symbol.png

COVID-19 is a new illness. It is sometimes called coronavirus. Most people will get better from coronavirus at home but some people can get very poorly and have to go to hospital. Sadly, sometimes people can die from coronavirus.

Some signs of coronavirus are:

  • A new cough and you keep on coughing
  • A high temperature
  • Your smell or taste going away or changing

If you have the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test. Go to If you cannot use the website to book a test, phone 119 free of charge.

If you need more information on symptoms, visit If you cannot use the NHS website, phone 111 free of charge.

About the vaccine

One way to help you stay safe is to get a coronavirus vaccine. The coronavirus vaccine should stop you getting very poorly if you do catch coronavirus. The coronavirus vaccine is an injection and you will need 2 injections of the vaccine, which will be up to 12 weeks apart.

The vaccine has been tested to make sure it is safe. The vaccine can't give you coronavirus. Having the vaccine makes you less likely to get very ill from coronavirus. We do not yet know if it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus.

Who should have the coronavirus vaccines?

  • Some people are more likely to get poorly from coronavirus than other people
  • If you are one of them, you will be offered the vaccine
  • Some people who are more likely to get poorly:
    • People living in a care home for the elderly
    • People aged 65 years and over
    • Adults with Down’s syndrome
  • The vaccine will be also offered to adults with these health conditions:
    • Problems with your kidney or liver
    • Heart conditions
    • Some brain conditions
    • Breathing problems like severe asthma (needing steroid tablets)
  • Whether you get the vaccine will depend on what condition you have, and how serious it is
  • This list doesn’t cover everybody. If you are more likely to get poorly, you should have been told by your doctor
  • If you have a condition that makes you more likely to get very unwell from coronavirus it’s called being ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’. This means that you will be able to get the coronavirus injection earlier than other people
  • Health and social care staff will also be able to get the vaccine
  • If you are a paid or main carer for a vulnerable person you can get the vaccine

How to book your appointment

  • Your invitation letter will explain who to call for your appointment
  • You will get told where to go for your vaccine and when
  • You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a coronavirus test or feeling poorly

What do I do next?

  • When you’ve had the first injection, you will be contacted to be told where and when to go for your second injection in 12 weeks time
  • Although the first dose will give you good protection, you need the second dose to get longer lasting protection
  • You still need to stay away from other people (social distancing), wear a face mask, wash your hands carefully and often

Side effects of the vaccine

Very common side effects include:

  • Your arm feeling heavy or sore where you had the injection
  • Feeling achy or like you've got flu
  • Feeling tired
  • Having a headache

If you feel feverish (like you're very hot or very cold) you should:

  • Rest
  • Take some paracetamol
  • You should feel better in less than a week

Easy-read COVID-19 vaccine information

The Pathways Associates has a YouTube channel and publish regular easy read Vlogs about coronavirus.

NHS England Learning Disability and Autism Programme: explaining vaccination

The NHS England Learning Disability and Autism Programme has created a series of videos to help answer any questions you might have about the new COVID-19 vaccine.

Do I need a vaccine for both flu and coronavirus?

How can I decide if I have a vaccine?

Why should I get a vaccine?

How are vaccines made?

Can you tell me what is a vaccine?