About the Covid-19 vaccines

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna have been approved for use in the UK. The COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to people most at risk from coronavirus.

The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination. People can now book their vaccine appointment. Check the NHS website to see if you are eligible to book an appointment without waiting to be contacted. When you are called for a vaccine it is critical you keep your appointment.

There is evidence that black and ethinic minority people are being unequally impacted by COVID-19 with more serious illnesses and deaths recorded. The vaccine is safe, and it saves lives: not just yours, but also other people's by helping to stop the virus. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, or it has been your age group's turn to get the vaccine but you have not yet had an appointment, please contact your GP or ring the NHS on 119.

COVID-19 Frequently asked questions

You might have questions about the vaccine. The NHS has put together some useful FAQs.

Why should I get the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine gives you the best protection against coronavirus. By taking the vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting those around you. Vaccines can significantly reduce the spread of coronavirus – but only if enough people are vaccinated. If the virus spreads again, it is likely to mean further lockdowns stopping us from getting back to normal for longer.

How do I get the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to people most at risk from coronavirus first. If your age group is called and you have not yet had or been offered your vaccine, you need to contact the NHS by calling 119 or going to the NHS website to book your vaccine appointment. If you are not eligible yet, please wait to be contacted. The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine.

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. The NHS only offers COVID-19 vaccinations to the public once independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has said that all approved vaccines have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection.

Does the vaccine give you COVID?

No. Vaccines are developed by taking parts of the virus itself. However, the parts of the virus in the vaccine cannot reproduce in your body and cannot give you COVID-19.

Could the vaccine be less effective for black people and other minority groups?

No. There is not any evidence that any of the approved vaccines will work differently among different ethnic groups. For both vaccine trials, participants included black/African, Asian and other ethnic groups.

Does the vaccine include pork, gelatine or other animal products?

No. There is no material of animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

Can Muslims have the vaccine under Islamic law?

Yes. After discussion with experts, the British Islamic Medical Association encourages individuals to take the COVID-19 vaccine as advised by their medical practitioner.

How is the COVID-19 vaccine given?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It is given as two doses. You will have the 2nd dose 3 to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose.

How long does the vaccine take to become effective?

The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the two doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. This means it is important to continue to follow social distancing guidance and, if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people.

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?

The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg.
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.

Can I have the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have updated their guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks. Find out more about the guidance for women of childbearing age, who are currently pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Who cannot have the vaccine?

People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered.

People with history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccines should not be vaccinated. Clinicians will discuss this with people before vaccinating them.

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

People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (cough, high temperature, loss of sense of smell or taste) 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.
Very common side effects include:
• a sore arm where the needle went in
• feeling tired
• a headache
• feeling achy
• feeling or being sick
As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.

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.
For more information, go to the NHS website.