Who will get the vaccine first?
The Government has confirmed that the vast majority of COVID-19 vaccinations administered by hospital hubs and local vaccination services in the initial phase will be prioritised for those 80 years of age and over, frontline health and social care workers.
Please be assured that everyone who wants to have the vaccine will be able to, but as you will appreciate a vaccination programme of this scale will take time to be rolled out.
The NHS has also worked through distribution mechanisms to ensure that care home residents can now safely be offered a vaccination across the country.
Following the priority groups outlined above, the next phase will include:
all those 75 years of age and over
all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
all those 65 years of age and over
all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
all those 60 years of age and over
all those 55 years of age and over
all those 50 years of age and over
It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable deaths from COVID-19.
How will people know when it is their time to get the vaccine?
When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be a letter, either from their GP or the national NHS. This letter will include all the information a person will need to book appointments. Some services are currently also phoning and texting patients to invite them in.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted. The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first.
There is a timing issue which means that some people that have been vaccinated by their GP will still get an invitation to a vaccination centre like the Centre for Life. This letter can be disregarded if you have already had your vaccine from you GP. This letter is not an invitation for a 2nd dose of your vaccine and remember you can wait for an t your GP if you would prefer to be vaccinated there rather than at a mass vaccination centre.
What vaccines for COVID-19 are currently available?
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are now available. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection, and have been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Can people pick which vaccine they want?
Any vaccines that the NHS provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy. People should be assured that whatever COVID-19 vaccine they get will be effective.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. The NHS would not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it was safe to do so.
The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said both these vaccines are safe and highly effective.
Are there any side effects?
Like all medicines, the vaccine can cause side effects. Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
a sore arm where the needle went in
Why are second doses of the vaccine being rescheduled/?
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. 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 which will be between 10 and 12 weeks from the 1st dose.
If a household has a priority group member, such as an NHS frontline worker or vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?
These decisions are for the The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Their current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.
Should people who have already had Covid 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. It is advised that if you have had Covid you need to wait 4 weeks before you can be vaccinated.
Can I get one privately?
No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS for the moment. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police 101 service and/or Local Trading Standards.
The latest information is available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/