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COVID-19 vaccination - your questions answered

Below we have a series of Frequently Asked Questions around the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Public Health England have also produced a series of COVID-19 vaccination explainer videos, which will provide answers to many questions you might have about the programme. Click here to view the explainer videos.

Frequently asked questions:

Why should a person have the COVID-19 vaccination?

  • An effective vaccine will be the best way to protect the most vulnerable from coronavirus and the biggest breakthrough since the pandemic began alongside treatments
  • A vaccination is a huge step forward in our fight against COVID-19, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible should protect an individual 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 services2

How effective is the vaccine?

  • First real-world UK data show Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provides high levels of protection against COVID-19 from the first dose
  • Data analysed by Public Health England (PHE) show the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provides high levels of protection against infection and symptomatic disease from the first dose.
  • Overall, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 will be reduced by over 75% in those who have received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
  • The vaccine also provides protection against the variant of concern (B.1.1.7) first identified in South East England.
  • Early data from PHE’s SIREN study[i] show a promising impact on infection in healthcare workers aged under 65. Data show one dose reduces the risk of catching infection by more than 70%, rising to 85% after the second dose.

  • Healthcare workers in the study are tested for COVID-19 every 2 weeks – whether or not they have symptoms. This suggests the vaccine may also help to interrupt virus transmission, as you cannot spread the virus if you do not have infection.

  • PHE’s analysis of routine testing data also shows that one dose is 57% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 disease in those aged over 80. This effect occurs from about three to four weeks after the first dose. Early data suggest the second dose in over 80s improves protection against symptomatic disease by a further 30%, to more than 85%.

     

    [i] The SIREN (Sarscov2 Immunity & REinfection EvaluatioN) study involves a sample of healthcare workers undertaking symptom questionnaires, respiratory swabs and serum samples.

How and where will the COVID-19 vaccines be given in Salford?

  • For people who are able to travel, several community vaccine sites have being set up across Salford. The first of these vaccine hubs went live at Clarendon Leisure Centre in December with two additional delivery sites at Eccles and Irlam Leisure Centres in early January

  • Salford Primary Care Together, an organisation which joins up GP practices in the city, has been nominated to run the vaccination service on behalf of all GPs. People from the across the city will work together to staff the vaccine centres and some have volunteered to work on weekends to help roll out the vaccination programme. GPs in Salford will not be expected to step down their routine work to work in the vaccination services, as has been the case in other parts of the country

  • Home visits vaccination has been arranged for those who can't leave home or patients who are housebound
  • Visit the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) journey planning homepage for information on journey planning, the latest service changes and timetable information. Alternatively, you can call 0871 200 2233. If you are unable to travel independently or have difficulties paying for public transport, there are a number of options available to you.  For further information visit www.salford.gov.uk/travel-help or call the Spirit of Salford helpline on 0800 952 1000.

Are there pop up vaccination clinics?

How will residents who are housebound be vaccinated?

  • We continue to make progress vaccinating the residents who are housebound. They will be contacted directly when it is their turn and advised not to contact their GP to chase their appointment.
  • Staff and volunteers at the housebound teams will make their home visits as planned.

How do I get an appointment at the super-centre?

  • If you prefer, when you are eligible you can book an appointment for your vaccination through the national NHS booking system and go to a 'super-centre'. In Greater Manchester, this is likely to be at the Ethihad Campus, but other venues are available. Go to Book or manage your coronavirus vaccination on the NHS website for more information.

Who will be giving me the vaccination?

  • The vaccine will be given by a member of staff who has undergone specific training and has been assessed as competent in vaccine administration.

How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?

  • You are required to have two doses of the vaccine in order to provide full protection against COVID-19. The first dose should give you good protection from three or four weeks after you've had it. But you need to have two doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
  • There must be a minimum of 21 days between the first and second vaccinations with the Pfizer vaccine and a minimum of 28 days between the first and second vaccinations with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Does second dose vaccination need to happen at the same place as the first dose?

  • If you choose to book your vaccine through the National Booking Service, you will be given the  closest available appointment locations. While we expect most people will book both appointments at the same location, there is an option for the second dose appointment to be booked at a different location. This applies to the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine only.
  • If you have had your first dose through the Salford NHS Vaccination Service, we will invite you for your second dose by either text message or letter.
  • If you have had your first dose at hospital, you should be invited or be able to book your second dose at the same location.
  • There are other circumstances in which it may be appropriate for a patient to receive their second dose in a different location to their first dose, for example, discharged outpatients, students, doctors in training on rotation to hospitals, people who have become housebound or moved into a care home since their first dose, or patients who have moved to a new house to somewhere a long way away from where they had their first dose. Please contact the call centre on 0800 953 0116 to discuss your options.

How will people under the age 50 be invited?

  • National Booking Service has stepped up a text message service for COVID-19 vaccination invitations and reminders. This approach is helping the NHS issue invites to eligible groups more quickly and is more convenient for lots of people, particularly those in younger age groups. You can also book it locally through www.salford.nhsvaccinations.co.uk or by ringing 0800 953 0116.
  • People receiving these text messages will be invited to book online at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119, for an appointment at one of more than super vaccination centre or pharmacy-led site.
  • The text message will be sent using the government’s secure notify service and show as being sent from NHSvaccine. You can trust your text message is genuine if it comes from ‘NHSvaccine’, includes a link to the NHS.uk website and gives you the option of phoning 119.

Always remember that:

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips. 

Will I be given proof that I have had the vaccination, e.g. a “passport” or stamped form?

  • Yes, a vaccine card will be given to you after having the vaccine.

Now two vaccines have been approved, will the NHS have capacity to deliver both vaccines or will one have to be prioritised?  

  • As we routinely use both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford/ AstraZeneca, we have been planning extensively for this and a range of different scenarios, so if we get stocks of more than one at the same time this will potentially allow us to go further and faster. But we are not there yet.

What type of sites will give it out? Are they all large sites and what if I can’t get there? 

  • No, the NHS has been working together with local partners to ensure that people are not disadvantaged because of where they live, whether they own a car or if they are able to get about. This is why the NHS has developed three different models of delivery. 

How will patients be invited for a vaccination?

  • When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most they will receive a telephone call or a text message from the local vaccination delivery team. You may also receive a letter from the national booking team to attend one of the larger delivery sites.
  • We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the GP practice and wait unitl you are contacted to book an appointment.

How will GPs be told who to vaccinate?  

  • The JCVI will set criteria on an ongoing basis for who should get the vaccine when. GPs will be able to call in or go out to patients based on this, using their patient records. A national invite and recall system, drawn from GP patient records, may also be used.  

How will care home staff be identified as eligible for vaccination at hospital hubs or centres outside of the care homes where they work?

  • To ensure that care home staff are able to access flu and COVID-19 vaccines as a priority in any setting, we are asking employers to collect and securely provide their NHS numbers. This allows the NHS to tag them as care home workers on the national system we are using to invite and keep track of who has been vaccinated.
  • A letter to care homes providers setting out setting out the requirement and legal basis for the collection off staff details to support the national flu and COVID-19 vaccination programme is in development with representative bodies and will be issued separately as soon as possible.

After I have received the vaccine, do I need to continue doing twice weekly Lateral Flow Tests?

  • Yes, please continue with twice weekly testing. You may not be fully protected until 7 days after the second dose, so it is important to continue with testing, social distancing and other precautions in the meantime. Even when you are fully vaccinated, there is a very small chance of developing COVID-19 infection, although it is likely to be mild. Identifying infection remains important to help prevent spread of the disease.

Will the vaccine cause a positive Lateral Flow Test?

  • No. The vaccine causes your body to produce a specific antigen (viral spike protein). The Lateral Flow Test detects a different antigen, namely nucleocapsid protein, which is found within the virus, so the test will not be affected by the vaccine.

Can I go back to work after having my vaccine?

  • Yes, you should be able to work as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving.
  • The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. However, you will need to continue to follow the guidance in your workplace, including wearing the correct personal protection equipment and taking part in any screening programmes. We do not yet know whether the vaccine reduces the risk of transmission between people.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

  • The COVID-19 vaccine will reduce a person’s risk of getting the virus by working with their body’s natural defences to build protection
  • When the person receives the vaccine, their immune system will respond to it by;

         > Recognising the invading virus

         > Producing antibodies against the virus

         > Remembering the virus and how to fight it (therefore if the person is exposed to the germ again in the future, their immune system can quickly destroy it before they become unwell.)

  • If the second dose isn’t administered, the person may not be protected from COVID-19
  • Protection will not be likely until at least seven days after the second dose of the vaccine (with full protection not being achieved until 28 days after the second dose)

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • The vaccines have been shown to be effective in studies of more than 20,000 people. The first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will give you some protection from coronavirus disease, but you will need to have two doses of the vaccine to give you the best protection.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from coronavirus disease. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective and it takes a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine.
  • Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should lessen the severity of any infection.
  • This means it is important to continue to follow social distancing guidance and wear face coverings.

How long does the vaccine take to become effective?

  • The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you developing coronavirus infection. You may not be fully protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.

Who will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the UK should use and provide advice on who should be offered the vaccination first.
  • It is expected that we will only see a significant reduction in transmission when the majority of those age 50+ have been vaccinated.

Priority group

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advise on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination. 

The age-based prioritisation for the COVID-19 vaccine will include around 99% of people at risk of dying from the disease.

The full prioritisation list can be found here and is as follows (in order of priority):  

  1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers. 
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers.
  3. all those 75 years of age and over. 
  4. all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
  5. all those 65 years of age and over.
  6. all individuals aged 16 - 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality, and main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk*.
  7. all those 60 years of age and over.
  8. all those 55 years of age and over.
  9. all those 50 years of age and over. 

 * Cohort 6 is further defined in Green Book Chapter 14a as “Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group”.

The list of at-risk conditions can be further subdivided into three main sub-cohorts:

  • Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group which includes:

         - Chronic respiratory disease

         - Chronic heart disease and vascular disease

         - Chronic kidney disease

         - Chronic liver disease

         - Chronic neurological disease, including severe or profound learning disability

         - Diabetes mellitus

         - Immunosuppression

        - Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen

        - Morbid obesity

        - Severe mental illness

  • Younger adults in long-stay in-patient, nursing and residential care settings
  • Adult carers

       - Those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person, someone who has a severe mental illness or whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

What about expanded CEV?

  • We have been made aware that a new national risk stratification model has been developed and implemented for COVID-19 risk. Further 7000 people in Salford has been classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and have been placed into cohort four priority for their vaccine.

How will healthcare workers get the vaccine?

  • The NHS is offering vaccinations using different models. For healthcare workers, many NHS Trusts will act as hospital hubs where NHS staff can get vaccinated on site.

Which healthcare workers will be prioritised?

  • Frontline health and social care workers at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment, are considered of higher priority for vaccination than those at lower risk.

Are there COVID-19 vaccination guide for healthcare workers and social care staff?

Can I have the vaccine if I have had recent surgery or am due to have surgery?

  • Public Health England’s Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (the Green Book) states that recent or imminent elective surgery is NOT a reason to avoid routine immunisation.
  • Generally, minor illnesses without fever or entire body upset are not valid reasons to postpone immunisation. If you are very unwell (for example, after surgery), the vaccine may be postponed until you have fully recovered. This is so that signs and symptoms of illness are not confused with side effects to the vaccine.

  • Students will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine when their age or clinical risk group become eligible.
  • Students can receive their second dose in a different location to their first dose due to their circumstances. If you are registered with a GP practice and become eligible, you can book your appointments online through the National Booking Service at a location that is convenient to you.
  • Students should be encouraged to register with a GP practice and you can visit nhs.uk/register for more information. However, it is possible to request to book COVID-19 vaccinations as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.
  • If you receive an invitation, please do act on it as soon as possible. Millions of people are already benefiting from protection from the virus.

How will students be invited for the COVID-19 vaccination when they are eligible?

  • Students will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine when their age or clinical risk group become eligible.
  • In England, the COVID-19 vaccine is being offered at local sites run by GPs or community pharmacies, at larger vaccination centres and in some hospitals.  
  • Once you are eligible, you can find out how to get your vaccine at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119.
  • If you are registered with a GP, you will be able to book appointments at a larger vaccination centre, a community pharmacy run site or at some GP run sites. You can do this as soon as you are eligible or when you receive an invitation from your GP.
  • To use the National Booking Service, you will need to be registered with a GP and have an NHS number. Anybody who has previously received treatment will have an NHS number and you can find this on any letter the NHS has sent you, on a prescription, or by logging in to a GP practice online service. You can also find an NHS number using this tool.
  • While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, you can request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice. You can find out more about GP registration at nhs.uk/register.
  • Some of you may have received your vaccine already if you are at higher risk of Covid-19, are on a placement as a frontline health or care worker, are an unpaid carer, or are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed. You should continue with your first and second doses as planned.
  • If you receive an invitation, please do act on it as soon as possible. Millions of people are already benefiting from protection from the virus and this has contributed to dramatic falls in infections, hospitalisations and deaths.

I will be in a different location for my second dose, what should I do?

  • It is appropriate for students to receive their second dose in a different location to their first dose due to their circumstances.
  • If you are registered with a GP practice and become eligible, you can book your appointments online through the National Booking Service at a location that is convenient to you.
  • The National Booking Service allows you to view your appointments, cancel your appointments and book appointments again.
  • If you receive your first dose through a GP practice in one location but will be in a different location for your second, you can also book your second dose in your second location through the National Booking Service.
  • Second doses are administered 3 to 12 weeks after having the first dose.

I received my first dose in Wales/Scotland/ Northern Ireland, what should I do?

  • If you receive your first dose through a GP in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, but are in England for your second dose, you should follow the instructions above to arrange your second dose in England.

I am registered with a GP in my hometown, but not my university town, or vice versa. What should I do?

  • If you are registered with a GP practice and become eligible, you can book your appointments online through the National Booking Service at a location that is convenient to you.
  • The National Booking Service allows you to view your appointments, cancel your appointments and book appointments again.
  • If you receive your first dose through a GP practice in one location but will be in a different location for your second, you can also book your second dose in your second location through the National Booking Service.
  • You may also receive an invitation from your GP through text or a phone call. You may sometimes get a letter at the address that is registered with your GP practice. You do not need to wait to be contacted to book via the National Booking Service if you are eligible.

I am not registered with a GP, can I still get the vaccine?

  • Students should be encouraged to register with a GP practice and you can visit nhs.uk/register for more information.
  • While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, individuals can request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.

I will be on a placement abroad for my second dose, what should I do?

  • If you will be abroad by the time your second dose is due, you should contact the health service in the country where are resident at the time the second dose is due.

Where can I find more information?

International students FAQs

Are international students eligible for the vaccine?

  • Anybody in the UK is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. International students in England can receive the Covid-19 vaccine when their age or clinical risk group becomes eligible.

Do international students need to pay for the vaccine?

  • Nobody in England has to pay for the COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge and does not count as the kind of care that requires payment.
  • International students or anyone seeing requests for payment should report this activity to their university institution and to Action Fraud. More information on COVID-19 vaccine scams is on the Action Fraud website here.

Do international students need to be registered with a GP to get a vaccine?

  • While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, individuals can request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.

How does an international student get an NHS number?

  • International students can approach their local GP practice, saying they would like to register for the purposes of receiving the vaccine.

Are any dependents of international students also eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination?

  • Anyone in England is eligible for the vaccine if they fall within the current eligibility criteria set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and should come forward once it is their turn.

Are international graduates eligible for the vaccine?

See answer above.

How does an international student get a vaccine?

International students should be encouraged to register with a GP and get an NHS number.

An NHS number can be found on any letter the NHS has sent you, on a prescription, or by logging in to a GP practice online service. You can also find an NHS number using this tool.

It is possible to request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient by approaching a local GP practice.

While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, individuals can request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice

Students can be directed to nhs.uk/register for more information on GP registration.

If an international student is not registered with a GP, will they still be invited for their vaccination?

  • Students who are not registered with a GP will not be proactively contacted by a local NHS service when they are eligible.
  • We encourage all students to register with a GP and can be directed to www.nhs.uk/register for more information. It is possible for individuals to request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.

What should an international student do if they schedule their first dose in England, but will be abroad for their second?

  • The student should contact the health service in the country where they are resident at the time the second dose is due.

What should an international student do if they’ve received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination abroad, and it is not a vaccine that is being offered in England?

  • If a person has received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose provided that they are eligible.
  • If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, the student should contact a GP to ensure they receive an appropriate vaccine for their second dose.

Will international students need to have been vaccinated in order to enter England in the autumn?

  • Vaccination is not currently a requirement for entry into the UK. However, we encourage all international students to receive a vaccine, either in a different country before arriving for term, or in the UK once they arrive.

Where can students find more information?

Vaccinations for unpaid and informal carers

We are now able to offer an opportunity for unpaid and informal carers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as part of the National Vaccination programme.

Who is eligible?

Anyone aged 16+ who cares, unwaged for a friend or family member, loved one, who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

Who is not eligible?

If you are not an unpaid or informal carer you will need to wait until you are invited by the NHS.

There are also some general exclusions to the vaccination programme:

Individuals who:

  • are pregnant
  • are suffering from acute severe febrile (fever) illness 
  • are participating in a clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccines
  • have received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the preceding 28 days
  • have completed a course of COVID-19 vaccination

How this works?

Salford CVS are registering carers on behalf of NHS Salford CCG

  1. Please register for your vaccination here

  2. Once you have registered you will be contacted by the NHS booking team via text, phone or letter to arrange the appointment

Please note your details will be used to invite you for your vaccination and to monitor the number of people vaccinated across Salford.

Further Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine can be found here

Additional Support

If you require assistance to register, please contact Gaddum by emailing salford.carers@gaddum.org.uk or calling 0161 834 6069.

How will you get an appointment?

  • If you are registered with a GP in Salford, you will be sent a letter, a SMS or called by a staff member from Salford City Council
  • If you live in Salford but are registered with a practice outside the borough you will be contacted by representatives from that area
  • If you are called, the caller will identify themselves and say they are calling on behalf of the NHS in Salford and they are getting in touch about booking an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine

How to book your vaccination appointment online, if contacted?

  • If you are contacted by letter or text to book your first COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you can do this by visiting https://salford.nhsvaccinations.co.uk.
  • You can only book your first vaccine online with the Salford vaccination service. For your second dose, you will be contacted by the local team either by text or letter with your appointment details.

How do I get an appointment at the super-centre vaccination centre?

  • NHS England is writing and sending texts to all residents in the eligible cohorts inviting them to attend a super-centre for their COVID-19 vaccine. Greater Manchester's super-centre is based at the Etihad Campus in Manchester.

You have received a letter/SMS from NHS England to attend a super-centre but would like to attend a local centre?

  • If you have received one of the NHS England letters or an SMS, but you would rather have your jab at a vaccination centre based in your local community, please remain patient and you will be contacted shortly by the local NHS vaccination team in Salford.
  • The purpose of the super-centre vaccination service is to offer patients additional choice in where they are vaccinated.

How to book your vaccination appointment online, if contacted?

If you are contacted by letter or text to book your first COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you can do this by visiting salford.nhsvaccinations.co.uk.

  • If you have any urgent queries relating to a booking, please call vaccination telephone booking centre on 0800 953 0116. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:30am – 6pm and Saturdays 9am – 1pm. Please note: The centre receives a high number of calls throughout the day so you might have to wait in a queue. Please be patient, you will get through eventually.
  • You can only book your first vaccine online with the Salford vaccination service. For your second dose, you will be contacted by the local team either by text or letter with your appointment details.

Is there information in accessible formats or in different languages?

Yes. We have separate pages on our website with COVID-19 vaccination information translated into different languages and different formats.

Our alternative languages information is here.

Our alternative format information is here.

Our easy read information is here.

Is the COVID-19 vaccination 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 
  • The COVID-19 vaccines like every other vaccine can only become licenced after the regulators are satisfied they have been rigorously checked for safety. The testing process has been made much more efficient by the removal of a lot of administration
  • Recently there have been reports of an extremely rare condition involving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots. As a precautionary measure while this is being carefully reviewed, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has now advised that it is preferable for adults aged under 30, who don’t have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, to be offered an alternative vaccine
  • For those in this age group who have had already their first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and had no adverse reactions, they should still come forward for their second dose when invited

  • This condition can also occur naturally, and clotting problems are a common complication of COVID-19 infection

  • An increased risk has not yet been seen after other COVID-19 vaccines but is being carefully monitored

  • For people in older age groups, the JCVI has stated that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh the risks.

Who cannot have the vaccine?

  • People with history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccine should not be vaccinated.
  • A second dose of the vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of vaccine.
  • The vaccine should not be given to anyone who has experienced anaphylaxis following exposure to any of the excipients in the vaccine. A list of excipients is provided in the patient information leaflet. Note: The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine contains polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is commonly found in medicines and also in household goods and cosmetics.The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains polysorbate 80, which is commonly found in medicines; there may be cross-reactivity with PEG.
  • People that have a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to multiple classes of drugs or unexplained anaphylaxis should discuss suitability of vaccination with a clinician.
  • The MHRA have updated their guidance to say that pregnant women can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks (see question below). Those who are breastfeeding can also now have the vaccine.
  • People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered. Minor illnesses without fever or systemic upset are not valid reasons to postpone immunisation.

Can I have the vaccine if I am pregnant or planning to become pregnant?

  • The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.
  • There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of COVID-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy. 
  • Real-world data from the United States show that around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated, mainly with mRNA vaccines including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, without any safety concerns being raised.
  • Based on these data, the JCVI advises that it is preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.
  • The advice, published in Public Health England’s Green Book, a clinical professional guide for vaccinators in the UK, still advises that pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their clinician, including the latest evidence on safety and which vaccines they should receive.

Are pregnant women able to book through National Booking Service (NBS) for COVID-19 vaccination?

  • From Thursday 13 May, the new National Booking Service functionality will enable pregnant women to book appointments at a site that offers the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine following a series of screening questions.
  • This is in line with JCVI guidance and the Green Book.
  • Every woman who is pregnant, or thinks she might be, should be offered a discussion with a clinician (at the vaccination site, her maternity provider, or GP practice) on the potential risks and benefits of vaccination, so that she can make an informed choice about whether to receive it.

Is the vaccine safe for breastfeeding mothers?

  • There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding or on the breastfed infant. Despite this, COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant, and the benefits of breast-feeding are well known.
  • Because of this, the JCVI has recommended that the vaccine can be received whilst breastfeeding. This is in line with recommendations in the US and from the World Health Organisation.
  • More information is available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) here.

Can the Pfizer vaccine cause infertility in women?

  • There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the vaccine could cause infertility in women. In addition, infertility is not known to occur as a result of natural COVID-19 disease, further demonstrating that immune responses to the virus, whether induced by infection or a vaccine, are not a cause of infertility.
  • Reports on social media have falsely asserted that the vaccine could cause infertility in women and there is concern that this misinformation may cause women to avoid vaccination to prevent COVID-19, which is a potentially serious and life-threatening disease.
  • The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is a mRNA vaccine. It contains a small piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material that instructs cells in the body to make the virus’s distinctive “spike” protein. After a person is vaccinated, their body produces copies of the spike protein, which does not cause disease, and triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2. Contrary to false reports on social media, this protein is not the same as any involved in development of the placenta.

How long will protection last?

  • At the moment we know that the vaccine provides good protection against developing disease from the virus. Unfortunately, we do not know how long this protection lasts for and research is ongoing to understand whether further doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be necessary in the future.
  • Scientists are learning more each day and are using all data they generate to adapt their approach and provide the best possible protection advice
  • Initially we will still need carrying on testing those individuals for COVID-19, physically distance, wash hands and wear face coverings alongside rolling out the vaccine. As large numbers of people from at risk groups are given a vaccine, we will be closely monitoring the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths; if sufficient numbers of people are vaccinated in time this should lead to a substantial reassessment of current restrictions

Will the vaccination be compulsory?

  • There are no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory. The UK operates a system of informed consent for vaccinations

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?

Will people need to pay for the vaccine?

  • No, the COVID-19 vaccination is only available through the NHS to eligible groups and it is a free vaccination

Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?

  • Yes, if they are in a priority group identified by JCVI. The MHRA have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had COVID-19 as it is for those who haven’t
  • The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise the Government on which vaccine/s the UK should use and provide advice on who should be offered the vaccination first.
  • It is expected that we will only see a significant reduction in transmission when the majority of those age 50+ have been vaccinated.

I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I have the vaccine?

  • People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.

How soon after having COVID-19 infection can I receive the vaccine?

  • Individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infection in the preceding 4 weeks should postpone vaccination until:

      - clinical recovery and at least four weeks after onset of symptoms, or
      - four weeks from the first PCR positive specimen in those who are asymptomatic.

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, it is still vital the person returns for their second dose
  • 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
    • Headache
    • 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

What to expect after vaccination?

How do you monitor for problems, such as injuries or allergic reactions?

  • Each COVID-19 vaccine candidate is assessed on a case-by-case basis and will only be approved by the independent regulator, the MHRA, once it has met robust standards of effectiveness, safety and quality. Right through the tests and the trials, teams of scientists and clinicians carefully, methodically, scientifically rigorously review all data on safety, effectiveness and quality as soon as they become available.
  • The independent expert working group have supported MHRA proposals for a proactive safety monitoring strategy. This comprises the Yellow Card scheme and a special active monitoring programme which we are inviting people to join. 
  • Approved COVID-19 vaccines will be monitored continuously after roll out by the MHRA and PHE to ensure that the benefit of the vaccines continues to outweigh any risk.
  • You can report suspected side effects to COVID-19 vaccines through the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting portal https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/
  • The MHRA will work in collaboration with partners in the health system to rapidly assess all available safety data in real time and communicate any emerging issues, as necessary.

Can I have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine if I have anaphylaxis to penicillins or foods, e.g. peanuts or sesame, etc?

  • Yes. Components of these substances that cause an allergic reaction are not found in the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine does, however, contain polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG is found in medicines and also in household goods and cosmetics; allergy to PEG is extremely rare. Please discuss any concerns you may have about allergies with staff in the vaccine clinic. You may be referred to the Allergy Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital.

Can I have the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if I have a history of anaphylaxis to penicillins or foods, e.g. peanuts, sesame, etc?

  • Yes. Components of these substances that cause an allergic reaction are not found in the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine does, however, contain polysorbate 80 (also known as Tween 80). Is found in medicines, such as tablets, creams, ointments and vaccines; allergy to polysorbate 80 is extremely rare. Please discuss any concerns you may have about allergies with staff in the vaccine clinic. You may be referred to the Allergy Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital.

I have multiple severe allergies and am not sure exactly what causes them. Should I have the vaccine?

  • Please discuss any concerns you may have about allergies with staff in the vaccine clinic. You may be referred to the Allergy Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital.

Will the vaccine interact with any of my other medicines?

  • There are no known interactions with the vaccine. Immunological response may be diminished in those receiving immunosuppressive treatment, but it is important that you receive the vaccine.

What will happen if I have a serious reaction to the vaccination?

  • Serious reactions to the vaccine are rare. If you at risk of a serious reaction, you will be advised not to receive the vaccine. If you do have a serious reaction, such as anaphylaxis, staff in the vaccination centre are trained to treat you. A report will be sent to the Coronavirus Yellow Card Scheme in the event of a serious side effect occurring.
  • It is important that you tell staff in the vaccination centre if you have had anaphylaxis to a vaccine. This will minimise the risk of a serious reaction. If you have a serious reaction to the first dose of the vaccine, it may not be suitable for you to receive the second dose.

Does the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clot?

  • Recently there have been reports of an extremely rare condition involving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.
  • As a precautionary measure while this is being carefully reviewed, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has now advised that it is preferable for adults aged under 30, who don’t have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, to be offered an alternative vaccine when it is their turn to be vaccinated.
  • This condition can also occur naturally, and clotting problems are a common complication of COVID-19 infection.
  • An increased risk has not yet been seen after other COVID-19 vaccines but is being carefully monitored.
  • For people in older age groups, the JCVI has stated that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh the risks.

What will happen to those who had first dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine?

  • For those in this age group who have had already their first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and had no adverse reactions, they should still come forward for their second dose when invited.

What why is vaccine trials important?

  • The encouraging news about vaccines is thanks to clinical study participants volunteering to take part and shows the importance of this vaccine research.
  • Clinical trials into the vaccines against COVID-19 continue at pace, and it is essential that these do so. We will need data about a number of vaccines and their safety and effectiveness, in order to protect the population. No one vaccine is likely to be suitable for everyone, the first vaccine may not be the most effective and easiest to use, and we must make sure that the other studies continue to allow us to have a selection of vaccines to protect the whole population. We are likely to need several vaccines to provide enough doses for everyone at risk, as early as possible.

How many people have taken part in clinical trials and what about ages, ethnic backgrounds and medical conditions?

  • All of the vaccines will be tested on between 15,000 to 50,000 people across the world. They are tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, and of all ages between 18-84.
  • The studies have also looked as to whether the vaccines work on people with certain medical conditions and in older people, as their immune responses can work less effectively and therefore give them less protection through vaccines. As a result of this testing on a representative sample of the population, we can be confident that an approved vaccine will be effective for the wider population in the UK.
  • There will be further studies to look at how best to use the different vaccines, for example, which vaccine is most effective in which individuals and what sized dose is most effective A number of vaccines remain in development, and these may offer benefits over the first approved vaccine/s.
  • All this ongoing research will be vitally important to ensure we get the best protection from the vaccine. Research and vaccine development will not end with the first approved vaccine - there will be a process of continuous improvement.

Will people on vaccine trials be able to have a COVID-19 vaccine when available?

  • Yes we will have a process in place so people on vaccine studies are not disadvantaged. People taking part in the vaccine research will still be able to have an approved vaccine when this is available. Taking part in a study is the best way to help effective vaccines to be identified and made available to everyone earlier and may even give you early access to a vaccine later found to be effective.   

Does drinking alcohol effect the vaccine?

  • While a healthy lifestyle, including drinking alcohol within the UK Chief Medical Officers' low risk guidelines, is recommended, there is no consistent evidence that low and moderate levels of alcohol impair the immune system, in fact the evidence is mixed with some studies suggesting enhancement of biological markers of immune functioning and other studies suggesting otherwise. Please find the review of: Moderate alcohol consumption and the immune system.
  • Specifically, there is currently no published scientific evidence of the effect of alcohol before and after vaccine on the immune response to COVID-19 vaccination.
  • However, it is well known that chronic heavy alcohol abuse is linked to immune system dysfunction which can lead to vulnerability to infections and suboptimal vaccine response for some vaccines, likely due to an interplay of several factors.
  • It’s clearly advisable not to be intoxicated at time of vaccination to be able to give consent, receive post-vaccination advice, and to avoid confusing the effects of heavy drinking (like a bad hangover) with vaccine adverse events. But drinking alcohol is not a contraindication to vaccination; there is no vaccine-related safety concern.
  • People who meet the eligibility criteria for vaccination and who drink heavily but cannot cut down on consumption, should not be deterred from vaccination. In fact, they should be encouraged to get vaccinated as they are likely to be particularly clinically vulnerable to catching COVID-19 and having severe infection, particularly if they have underlying alcohol associated liver disease and poorer immunity to infection. They will likely benefit from vaccination, as it is better they get some protection against COVID-19 rather than none at all.

Will the flu vaccine provide protection against COVID-19?

  • The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. Anyone who is eligible for both vaccines should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.
  • Likewise, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect against the flu. 

I have not had the flu jab, can I have the COVID vaccine?

  • Yes but you are strongly encouraged to have your flu vaccine first. There should be a minimum of a 7-day interval between the flu and COVID-19 vaccine. This is so that side effects can be attributed to the appropriate vaccine.

What are the differences between the vaccines?

Which vaccine is better/more effective?

  • Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccine are very effective vaccines. Comparisons between the vaccine efficacies are unhelpful due to the different methodologies used.
  • It’s not as simple as saying one vaccine is better than the other. An effective vaccine will save lives and reduce hospitalisations.
  • Comparing vaccines on a simple percentage of effectiveness is a mistake. A vaccine with slightly lower headline efficacy than another may prove to be the one that offers more durable protection or a greater effect on transmission
  • All vaccines have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get will be highly effective and protect them from Coronavirus.

How many doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will need to be administered? 

  • The vaccine is given in two doses and data from clinical trials showed the vaccine is up to 95% efficacy and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have authorised the supply of the vaccine under Regulation 174 until it can be licensed, with trials suggesting it works equally well in people of all ages, races and ethnicities. There were also no serious safety concerns reported in the trials. 
  • Everyone will receive their second dose. This will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.
  • From 30th December 2020 the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups. With two vaccines now approved, we will be able to vaccinate a greater number of people who are at highest risk, protecting them from the disease and reducing mortality and hospitalisation.

How quickly is the Pfizer vaccine effective after doses?

  • Full protection should begin 7-10 days after the second injection.

How many people have received the Pfizer vaccine so far?

  • More than 600,000 people in the UK have received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of the largest vaccination programme in British history.
  • The government has published figures showing the number of people who have received the vaccine between 8 December and 20 December in the UK is 616,933.
  • The majority of the vaccines have been administered to the over-80s, care home workers and NHS staff through more than 500 sites across the UK.
  • Over the coming weeks and months, the rate of vaccinations will increase as more doses become available and the programme continues to expand.

How many AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines will be available?

  • We have hundreds of thousands of doses available in the UK from Monday (4 Jan).
  • There will be millions more doses delivered, the UK has secured a total of 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Should both vaccines be given in two doses?

  • The MHRA authorisation includes conditions that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should be administered in two doses, with the second dose given within 12 weeks after the first.
  • The MHRA has also clarified that for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the interval between doses must be at least 3 weeks (21 days). This also aligns with the EMA position on the Pfizer vaccine.
  • For both vaccines, data provided to MHRA demonstrate that whilst efficacy is optimised when a second dose is administered both offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term. For both vaccines the second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer term protection.

Where/how are vaccines going to be administered? 

  • Vaccination to at-risk groups till take place at the most appropriate settings to encourage uptake. This includes administering vaccination to at risk individuals in their usual place of residence. The three models of delivery are: 
  • Hospital Hubs - NHS providers vaccinating staff onsite. 
  • Local Vaccination Services – Community and primary care-led service based on local and logistical considerations but is likely to include GP practices, local authority sourced buildings or other local facilities, and potentially roving teams if vaccines are transportable in this way.  
  • Vaccination Centres - Large scale centres such as sports and conference venues set up for high volumes of people. 

Who is administering these vaccines? 

  • Recruitment of workforce has focused on those who already have experience in handling vaccinations but may currently work outside of NHS settings, for example, independent nurses or allied health care professionals. 

Is one easier to deliver?  

  • All vaccines will present different logistical requirements, but the NHS has been planning for all eventualities, and people should be assured that the vaccine they will be offered is available because it has been assessed and approved by experts as being safe and effective.

Can people choose what vaccine they have? It has been suggested that vaccines could be mixed and matched?

  • No. Any vaccines that are available will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get will be highly effective and protect them from coronavirus.
  • It is important to receive two doses of the same vaccine, therefore both of your vaccine doses must be booked and received at the same hospital site.
  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is being rolled out as fast as possible by the NHS across the UK. Now authorised, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is deployed alongside the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to increase the pace and volume of the UK programme. There are no current plans to mix these vaccines.
  • The Government’s Vaccine Taskforce keeps its approach under review, ensuring the UK is in the strongest position to protect people. The science is uncertain about how mixing vaccines could produce a better immune response, so trials and testing will continue to assess and test vaccine responses.

If you're given one type of vaccine does that mean you have to stick with that vaccine forever?

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is rapidly being rolled out across the UK, starting with the highest priority groups.
  • The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are being rolled out to increase the pace and volume of the UK programme.
  • More evidence is needed to understand whether a seasonal vaccination or booster dose might be needed.
  • The vaccines people are offered will be appropriate for them. This decision is based on clinical judgement supported by the advice of Joint Committee on vaccination and immunisation. This will take into account individual vaccine characteristics, which may mean they are more suitable for some groups of people, and not others – for example, some may be less well tolerated or effective in certain age groups.

Will vaccinations be available across the UK?

  • Vaccination will be managed by the health services in each nation: NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS Wales, NHS Scotland, and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland. The UK government is working closely with the Devolved Administrations to ensure an aligned approach to COVID-19 vaccine deployment across the UK. 
  • The vaccine will be available for free across the UK. We have procured vaccines on behalf of all parts of the country. And the Government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure it is deployed fairly across the UK. 

What are vaccine record cards?

Why are some patients receiving COVID-19 vaccination record cards?

  • When patients are vaccinated, they are likely to receive a vaccine record card that notes the date of their vaccination, the suggested date for their second dose and details of the vaccine type and batch.

Is this a vaccine ID card showing proof of vaccination?

  • This is a vaccine record card, similar to those given to patients for other NHS vaccinations as a note of when they received their vaccine.
  • It is not intended to be used for any other purpose, or as an immunity certificate.
  • All vaccinations are recorded on the patient’s record with their GP.

Where else will the vaccination be recorded?

  • All vaccinations are recorded on the patients record with their GP.

 Are you introducing vaccine passports?  

  • We have no plans to introduce immunity passports following this vaccination programme.

What are the timings and how will the vaccine be rolled out?

How many of the priority groups does the NHS expect to vaccinate, before running out of vaccines? 

  • The Government has in principle secured access to six different vaccine candidates, across four different vaccine types, totalling over totalling over 357 million doses. This includes:
    - Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (40 million doses)
    - Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (100 million doses)
    - Moderna vaccine (7 million doses)
  • The 40 million doses expected to be supplied by Pfizer/BioNTech is sufficient to vaccinate 20 million people, as each person will receive two doses. We won’t have all of these doses from day 1 or even in the first month – this is going to be a long-term programme.
  • It will likely take until at least Spring until all high-risk groups have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine.

Why is there a longer timeframe between the first and second doses?

  • To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advise that the second dose of both vaccines should be scheduled 12 weeks after the first.
  • The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed a longer timeframe between first and second doses so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection (the Green Book states that short term protection from day 10 after the first Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination is very high and has been estimated to be around 89% between days 15 and 21). This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.
  • Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

When will deployment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine begin?

  • Vaccination using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has begun in hospital hubs since 4 January.

Will you use the Oxford vaccine more because it’s cheaper and easier to store?

  • The vaccines that the NHS uses and in what circumstances will be decided by the MHRA.
  • The results that we have seen for all the vaccines so far have been very encouraging and if borne out by the final assessment each of them would be classed as being very effective.

Is one vaccine easier to deliver than another?  

  • All vaccines will present different logistical requirements, but the NHS has been planning for all eventualities, and people should be assured that the vaccine they will be offered is available because it has been assessed and approved by experts as being safe and effective. 

What safety measures have been put in place?

Can the government be sure that safety won't be compromised due to the speed of development of a COVID-19 vaccine?

  • There are extensive checks and balances required at every stage of the development of a vaccine, and this is no different for a COVID-19 vaccine. No stages in the vaccine development process are bypassed. 
  • All vaccines are tested through three phases of clinical trials to ensure they meet the gold standard. Phase 1 trials are with a small group of people to make sure there are no safety concerns and determines the appropriate dosage for the best immune response. Phase 2 trials are conducted on a larger group of people to check the vaccine works consistently and that the immune response is sufficient. Phase 3 trials test the vaccines on thousands of people for scientists to assess if the vaccine is producing immunity that will prevent disease.
  • Usually, these phases are run in sequence, but in an effort to find a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, once safety has been ascertained through Phase 1, Phases 2 and 3 are being run in parallel. 
  • The data from each phase then goes to the regulator in a “rolling” review rather than once the trials have completed, which means the regulator can start looking at the results earlier than normal.
  • Companies have made decisions to begin large scale production of vaccines which are still in trials. This means that if the vaccines are not shown to be safe and effective and are not approved for use the companies will have to destroy what they have manufactured. If, however the vaccines are successful, that means the vaccines are ready to be distributed.

How have the COVID-19 vaccines been developed so fast?

  • Vaccine technology and the technological approaches to making vaccines are getting better and better and we couldn’t have done it in this timeframe if we went back to the 2009 pandemic and we had a new virus about which we knew very little. We’re in a different place today because of the technology.
  • It was very clear that it was a global public health emergency from the word go and governments were prepared to put in lots of funding to manufacturers, without any guarantee of success, but hoping that they would find a solution
  • Manufacturers knew this had to be a straight run through, they didn't have time for investment decisions and pausing or thinking about a commercial market at the end of it. It had to happen with real urgency.
  • But the vaccine trials have been just the same as normal vaccine trials. Phase one, phase two and phase three. Where time has been saved is by recruiting participants in advance, so at the moment the study protocol is in place, the Ethics Committee is in place, so are the vaccine trial participants – which speeds up the process. And that happened at phase one, phase two and phase three and therefore things ran very fast.

How can a vaccine be developed in nine months?

  • These vaccines have been through phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials just like ordinary vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine clinical trial size was around 45,000 people. These are very, very big studies.
  • Time has been gained is instead of getting an investment decision then going to ethics committee then starting to recruit volunteers, all of the recruiting volunteers was done in advance so that the people were completely ready to go and the ethics committees moved very fast to approve the trials.
  • Organisations like the National Institute for Health Research made this their top priority and plans were made for the next phase by the companies without having to wait for things like investor decisions.
  • But the numbers of people in the trials were the same as you would expect for any other vaccine, and on top of that the safety assessments and the assessments of effectiveness at the end are the same – it’s the same regulators doing the same job.
  • Companies have made decisions to begin large scale production of vaccines which are still in trials. This means that if the vaccines are not shown to be safe and effective and are not authorised for use the companies will have to destroy what they have manufactured. If, however the vaccines are successful, that means the vaccines are ready to be distributed. 

How can people be confident there won’t be long term side effects?

  • Every single vaccine authorised for use in the UK has been authorised by the MHRA and the three components of authorisation are a safety assessment, an effectiveness assessment and a manufacturing quality assessment.

What are the regulations related to the vaccines?

How are vaccines regulated and authorised for use? 

  • 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 Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK’s independent regulator. Their role is to ensure medicines, devices and vaccines work effectively and are safe for use.  
  • Each COVID-19 vaccine candidate is assessed on a case-by-case basis and will only be authorised once it has met robust standards of effectiveness, safety and quality. 
  • Teams of scientists and clinicians carefully, methodically, scientifically rigorously review all data on safety, effectiveness and quality as soon as they become available, and have done so throughout all tests and trials 
  • The data looked at includes all the results from laboratory studies, clinical trials, manufacturing and quality controls and testing the product. The public on that basis should be very confident that all tests are done to the very highest standards, and only then will a COVID-19 vaccine be made available 

How many people need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in JCVI’s first phase?

  • The JCVI recommendations of vaccination by age and risk factors is estimated to cover over 25 million people in phase 1.
  • The vaccination of the top two cohorts is estimated to cover over 6 million people.

Why do the JCVI’s recommendations focus on reducing people’s individual risk and not stopping transmission? 

  • The most important thing is that we protect those who are most at risk of dying. At the start of any vaccination programme, we won’t know the impact of the vaccine on transmission and so we will vaccinate those who are at highest risk of serious illness and death. This includes older people and care home residents.  
  • As vaccination programmes roll out globally, our understanding of the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine will increase, and these data will be used to develop advice on the next phase of the programme. 

Why aren’t BAME groups being prioritised?  

  • There is clear evidence that certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups have higher rates of infection, and higher rates of serious disease and mortality. The reasons are multiple and complex.  
  • There is no strong evidence that ethnicity by itself (or genetics) is the sole explanation for observed differences in rates of severe illness and deaths. What is clear is that certain health conditions are associated with increased risk of serious disease, and these health conditions are often overrepresented in certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.  
  • Prioritisation of people with underlying health conditions will also provide for greater vaccination of BAME communities who are disproportionately affected by such health conditions.  
  • Tailored local implementation to promote good vaccine coverage in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups will be the most important factor within a vaccine programme in reducing health inequalities in these groups. 
  • The NHS will provide advice and information at every possible opportunity, including working closely with BAME communities, to support those receiving a vaccine and to anyone who has questions about the vaccination process.”

Additional points:

  • 9.6% of participants in the Phase 2 and 3 Pfizer BioNtech clinical trials were Black and 4.6% were Asian. The phase 2/3 study was considered sufficiently representative of the UK population as a pre-authorisation study. Further effectiveness studies in representative populations are planned post-approval. In addition, MHRA have now published the Public Assessment Report on their website which has more information on demographics:

Regulatory approval of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 can be found here.

What is the evidence to show the vaccines are 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, race and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 82% were White, 10% were Black or African American, 4.4% were Asian, 2.5% were Multiracial, 0.6% were Native American/Alaskan and race was not reported in 0.6%.
  • In the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine studies, 75.5% of participants were White, 3.5% were Asian, 10.1% were Black, 4.1% were Mixed and 6.6% were classed as Other. Over 12,000 people received at least one dose of vaccine.

Why aren’t you vaccinating economically active people? Surely that would be a good approach to get the economy back up and running again? 

  • The full impact of vaccination on infection and transmission of the virus will not become clear until a large number of people have been vaccinated. 
  • The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. 
  • The Committee have advised that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention COVID-19 mortality and protection of health and social care staff and systems. Secondary priorities could include vaccination of those at increased risk of hospitalisation and at increased risk of exposure, and to maintain resilience in essential public services. 
  • Given the current epidemiological situation in the UK, all evidence indicates that the best option for preventing morbidity and mortality in the initial phase of the programme is to directly protect persons most at risk of morbidity and mortality.  

What about people who are immunocompromised who can’t benefit from a vaccine? 

  • The Government is exploring all avenues available to us, to ensure that a treatment for COVID-19 is found.  
  • Treatments containing COVID-19 neutralising antibodies have been secured from AstraZenaca to support immunocompromised people who will not be able to benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine.  
  • The antibody treatment currently being developed by AstraZeneca is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies and has the potential to be given as a preventative option for people exposed to the virus, and to treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected by the virus if successful. 

Why are care home workers prioritised over NHS staff? 

  • There is evidence that infection rates are higher in residential care home staff, than in those providing home care or in healthcare workers. Care home workers are therefore considered a very high priority for vaccination.

Who will administer vaccines for care home residents and staff?

  • This group are a high priority and so as soon as it is possible for them to do so, GPs and local primary care networks will begin vaccinating care home residents.
  • In the first instance we will be working to vaccinate as many care home staff as safely as possible in hospital hubs in the immediate days and weeks, including bringing in staff.
  • Taking the vaccine into the community and into care homes will come over the following weeks.

How is consent for receiving the vaccine managed in a care home setting?

  • The NHS is supplying the care home providers with consent forms to use for different circumstances of the individual. There is an additional consent form for care home staff.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination consent form letter templates are available in different software versions and can be downloaded from the Health Publications website and adapted to suit the needs of local healthcare teams. These resident forms are available for those who are able to consent for themselves, for those with a relative who has power of attorney for them and a relative’s agreement form.

Has the MHRA approved care home jabs?

  • The MHRA has now given the approval in principle for the vaccine to be moved and the trays of vaccines to be split in very specific and controlled circumstances.
  • This is a new vaccine and has never been used before, and the scale we’re all working at means there is only a small number of providers who can do this right now.
  • The MHRA has set out how this can be expanded to GP-led vaccination channels. 

Why do the JCVI’s recommendations focus on reducing people’s individual risk and not stopping transmission? 

  • The most important thing is that we protect those who are most at risk of dying. At the start of any vaccination programme, we won’t know the impact of the vaccine on transmission and so we will vaccinate those who are at highest risk of serious illness and death. This includes older people and care home residents.  
  • As vaccination programmes roll out globally, our understanding of the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine will increase, and these data will be used to develop advice on the next phase of the programme. 

Why is vaccination not recommended for children? 

  • Almost all children with COVID-19 have no symptoms or mild disease and the vaccines not yet been tested in younger children. The Committee advises that only children at very high risk of catching the virus and serious illness, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities in residential care, should be offered vaccination. 

Is the vaccine safe for people with pre-existing conditions?

  • The trials have involved people with chronic underlying conditions deliberately, and they have involved people from very broad age ranges and quite a lot of people in the elderly bracket. The JCVI have looked at this, there’s no indication that there should be any difficulty in giving it to people with chronic underlying conditions.
  • The JCVI has picked out, not just by age, but people 18 to 65 with at-risk conditions. And, and the reason for that is that they are at extremely high risk from coronavirus compared with the general population.

What vaccines will we have?

  • The UK has secured access to seven different possible vaccines, across four different vaccine types, reflecting the government’s strategy to ensure the UK has a supply of vaccines should they prove safe and effective in clinical trials. These are at separate stages of development.
  • We have secured early access to over 357 million vaccines doses through agreements with several separate vaccine developers at various stages of trials, including:
  • 100 million doses of University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine 40 million doses of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
  • 7 million doses of Moderna vaccine
  • 60 million doses of Novavax vaccine
  • 60 million doses of Valneva vaccine
  • 60 million doses of GSK/Sanofi Pasteur vaccine
  • 30 million doses of Janssen vaccine
  • We have invested over £230m into manufacturing any successful vaccine and an enormous amount of planning and preparation has taken place across Government to be able to quickly roll out the vaccine, including ensuring we have adequate provision, transport, PPE and logistical expertise to do so. We are also working at pace to prepare for the delivery of any potential COVID-19 vaccination programme as quickly as possible. 

Why doesn’t JCVI’s advice include anything about the other vaccine candidates?

  • After JCVI has been given the opportunity to review Phase III data on the vaccines, the statement will be updated. JCVI will continually monitor data on vaccines in development. As more Phase III data become available on candidate COVID-19 vaccines, the Committee will be able to prepare further advice for policy makers in the UK.