Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine FAQs
What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines
- The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They will give you the best protection against coronavirus.
- The vaccines are part of our defence – we need to continue with hands, face, space, fresh air as well as testing.
- Join the millions safely vaccinated against coronavirus.
How many people have been vaccinated?
What are the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine?
- Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. These are usually mild and are much less serious than developing coronavirus or complications associated with coronavirus. Most side effects should not last longer than a week, such as:
- a sore arm where the needle went in
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
- feeling or being sick
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to. If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
How can people be confident there won't be long-term side effects?
Every single vaccine authorised for use in the UK has been assessed for safety by the MHRA. Millions of people have already received the Covid-19 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).
Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe?
- Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.
- The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said that the vaccines have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
- As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products.
- There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.
How effective are the vaccines?
- The MHRA have said these vaccines are highly effective, but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is really important.
Will the vaccine protect you right away?
Once you have had the COVID-19 vaccine, it has been shown to reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. Each vaccine has been tested in more than 20,000 people in several different countries and shown to be safe.
It may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.
The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and a full course will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus, but we do expect it to reduce this risk. So, it is still important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you.
To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:
- practise social distancing
- wear a face mask
- wash your hands carefully and frequently
- follow the current guidance
Can undocumented migrants receive the vaccine?
The Covid-19 vaccination programme is available to everyone, regardless of immigration status. In line with published national guidance, migrants to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will be eligible for a vaccine when it is their turn. An NHS number is not needed to be eligible for a Covid vaccination. However, it is helpful to be registered with a GP so that the NHS can invite patients to book a Covid-19 vaccination appointment when it is their turn. Registration with a GP also enables the vaccinator to check for safety issues or medical reasons why the person should not be vaccinated at that time, and to check for previous vaccinations. Patients do not need to show proof of address, ID or immigration status to register with a GP. This also applies if you are an asylum seeker, refugee, a homeless patient or an overseas visitor, whether lawfully in the UK or not.
I have coronavirus symptoms. Should I wait to get the vaccine?
- Yes. If you suspect you have coronavirus, Public Health England recommends that you wait 28 days from the date you began feeling symptoms, or from the date of a positive coronavirus test if you are asymptomatic, before getting the vaccine.
- You can also order a PCR test by visiting: www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
What do I need to bring with me to the vaccination centre?
If you are taking medication, please bring a list of these with you to the vaccination centre. Do not bring the medicines themselves.
If you are taking a blood thinner called 'warfarin' you will also be going for regular blood tests to monitor the thickness of your blood using a test called INR. The INR test result is a number (for example 2.5). Please make sure you know your latest INR reading and when that was last checked.
If you don't know this, you can get if from your GP surgery. If you are taking warfarin but we don't know your INR reading it can sometimes mean your vaccination cannot go ahead. The vaccination computers at the centre do not link back to your medical records so we can't look up your result on the day.
Can I get a vaccine privately?
- No. Vaccinations are only available through the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge.
- 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.
- If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.
Can people pick what vaccine they want?
- No. Any vaccines that the NHS will provide 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, it is worth their while.
Does the vaccine include any parts from foetal or animal origin?
- No. There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.
Is it mandatory?
- There are no plans for a COVID-19 vaccine to be compulsory.
I have heard the vaccine can make people infertile - is this true?
- There is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility. The theory that immunity to the spike protein could lead to fertility problems is not supported by any evidence. Most people who contract COVID-19 will develop antibody to the spike and there is no evidence of fertility problems after Covid-19 disease.
- Read the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives response to misinformation around Covid-19 vaccine and fertility.
Can pregnant women have the vaccine?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as people of the same age or risk group. In the USA, around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated mainly with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and no safety concerns have been identified.
Evidence on COVID-19 vaccines is being continuously reviewed by the World Health Organization and the regulatory bodies in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe. Women who are breastfeeding can also be given the vaccine. Read the government's latest guidance here.
- The RCOG has prepared an information sheet to help pregnant women who are eligible for and have been offered vaccination make an informed choice.
- Please also read the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Q&As on COVID-19 vaccination, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Public Health England has produced advice in a range of formats for pregnant, breastfeeding and women of childbearing age
I'm young & low risk, so the vaccine isn't for me.
The average age of people in intensive care is 60, but people much younger have been seriously ill and died too, with thousands more still suffering the effects of Long Covid after what might have been a mild initial case. If we’ve learned anything from this last year, it’s that nobody is really safe. Anyone can get Covid-19, including young people, and anyone can spread it. Getting vaccinated is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and others around you from the virus, vaccines reduce infections, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19.
How does the vaccine work?
- The vaccine works by making a protein from the virus that is important for creating protection.
- The protein works in the same way they do for other vaccines by stimulating the immune system to make antibodies and cells to fight the infection.