Answers to commonly asked questions
The vaccination programme is being rolled out and millions of people in the UK have already been vaccinated.
Even after having the Covid-19 vaccine, everyone should continue to follow government guidelines to protect themselves and those around them. This means it is STILL important to:
- Keep social distancing
- Wear a face covering
- Wash your hands regularly
Whether you have had your vaccine or not, please continue to follow all guidance in place to control the spread of the virus and save lives.
Questions and answers
Here are some answers to the questions commonly asked about the Covid-19 vaccine.
How will I know it’s my turn to have the Covid-19 vaccine?
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. Please only contact the NHS to arrange your vaccine appointment if you’ve been advised to do so. Once you’ve received a letter, email or text you can book your appointment online at your choice of vaccination site so that it’s convenient for you. Those who cannot access the online booking service can call 119 to book an appointment.
Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe?
Before any vaccine can be used, it must pass strict quality, safety and effectiveness tests and be granted approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The Covid-19 vaccine is no different and has been approved by the MHRA.
Are there any side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine?
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects, Most of these are mild and short term, lasting no longer than a week, and not everyone gets them. These may include:
- A sore arm where the needle went in
- A headache
- Feeling achy
- Feeling or being sick
- Feeling tired
If required, paracetamol can help relieve some discomfort.
Reports of extremely rare cases of blood clots: The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives. The UK’s independent regulator, the MHRA. and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) have both said that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults.
As a precaution, it is preferable for people under the age of 30 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible once they are elegible.
Can I choose which Covid-19 vaccine I have?
No. All 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 whichever vaccine they have will be highly effective and protect them from coronavirus.
Can people with allergies have the Covid-19 vaccine?
You should not have the Covid-19 vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to:
- a previous dose of the same vaccine
- any of the ingredients in the vaccine
Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction.
Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and can treat them immediately.
Can pregnant or breastfeeding women have the Covid-19 vaccine?
If you are pregnant, you should be offered the Covid-19 vaccine when you are eligible. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are offered the vaccine based on age and clinical risk group.
You can have a Covid-19 vaccine if you are breastfeeding. There’s no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine has any effect on the chances of becoming pregnant and there is no need to a avoid pregnancy after being vaccinated. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby Covid-19. Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccine. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you.
Search ‘pregnancy and coronavirus’ on nhs.uk for more information.
Does the Covid-19 vaccine affect fertility?
There is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility, or your chances of becoming pregnant. If you are concerned, please search ‘A guide to Covid-19 vaccination – All women of childbearing age, those currently pregnant or breastfeeding’ on gov.uk for more information.
Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe for people with underlying health condition?
The vaccine trials have involved people with underlying health conditions, from a broad age range. The MHRA has authorised the vaccine as safe to use and there is no indication that there should be any difficulty in administering to people with underlying health conditions.
How do I know the Covid-19 vaccine has been widely tested on people like me?
Each of the vaccines has been tested on tens of thousands of people across the world. They are tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, representative of the UK population and of all ages between 18-84.
Will my Covid-19 vaccine protect me?
Vaccines offer important protection to reduce risk, but they do not make you invincible. Protection from any vaccine takes time to build up. In general, the older you are the longer it takes. It will take at least two weeks in younger people and at least three weeks in older people before you can expect to have a good antibody response.
Can I catch coronavirus from the Covid-19 vaccine?
No, you can’t. But it’s possible to have caught the virus and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus, stay at home and arrange to have a test. If you need more information on coronavirus symptoms, check the NHS website.
How does the Covid-19 vaccine work?
Like any vaccine, the Covid-19 vaccine works by teaching your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from disease. It’s safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the disease.
How will my Covid-19 vaccine be administered and how many doses will I need?
The vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. The vaccine types currently being given require two doses, with the second dose three to twelve weeks after the first. You will be contacted to arrange a date for your second appointment unless you have already booked via the national booking system.
How can people be confident there won’t be long-term side effects?
Every single vaccines authorised for use in the UK has been assesed for safety by the MHRA. Millions of people have already received the vaccine. The MHRA operates the Yellow Card scheme on behalf of the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM). The scheme collects and monitors information on suspected safety concerns and relies on voluntary reporting of suspected adverse incidents by healthcare professionals and members of the public (users, patients and healthcare professionals). You can find out more at yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk
Does the Covid-19 vaccine contain animal products?
None of the Covid-19 vaccines approved by MHRA contain any animal products.
Can I pay for the Covid-19 vaccine?
No, this is a free vaccine available through the NHS.