Skip to the content

COVID-19 vaccination Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Sections

  1. General information about the Covid-19 vaccines
  2. Being invited to, or booking, your Covid-19 vaccine appointment
  3. Vaccination day - what you need to know on the day
  4. What happens once you've been vaccinated

Section 1: General information about the Covid-19 vaccines

Please click here to view the publication: Covid-19 vaccination – a guide for adults or view the questions below.

Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?

Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you 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 services. 

If you’re a frontline health or social care worker, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work. 

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is 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 both of these 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 many people have been vaccinated so far?

Figures for the total numbers of people who have been vaccinated in the UK and across our region are updated regularly and can be seen here: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/healthcare.

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 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.

The COVID-19 vaccine that you have had 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.

This means it is important to:

  • continue to follow social distancing guidance
  • if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people

Is one vaccine better than the other – can I choose?

People cannot choose which vaccine they receive. All available vaccines have to be approved by passing the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) tests on safety and efficacy. So, people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it will be highly effective and protect them from coronavirus.

Why has my 2nd vaccine dose been delayed and why is there a prioritisation of the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccines?

The four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have said that, ‘Prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time’.

This means that second doses of both vaccines will be administered towards the end of the recommended vaccine dosing schedule of 12 weeks. This will maximise the number of people getting vaccinated and therefore receiving protection in the next 12 weeks; maximising the impact of the vaccine programme in its primary aims of reducing mortality and hospitalisations and protecting the NHS and equivalent health services. 

Two doses of the vaccine are still needed to get the best protection from the virus.

Does the NHS have the capacity and supplies available if lots of people now book? 

The vast majority of people in these groups have already either had their first dose or are booked in to be vaccinated shortly.

The NHS is confident that the supplies and booking slots are available to accommodate the expected number of people who may now come forward.

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?

Yes, the Covid-19 vaccine does not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products.

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. 

What is the evidence to show the vaccine is 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 and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan.

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. 

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

People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms 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. 

I am pregnant, can I get vaccinated against Covid-19?

If you are pregnant you should not be vaccinated unless you are at high risk – you can be vaccinated after your pregnancy is over.

If you have had the first dose and then become pregnant you should delay the second dose until after the pregnancy is over (unless you are at high risk).

If you are pregnant but think you are at high risk, you should discuss having or completing vaccination with your doctor or nurse.

Although the vaccine has not been tested in pregnancy, you may decide that the known risks from COVID-19 are so clear that you wish to go ahead with vaccination. There is no advice to avoid pregnancy after COVID-19 vaccination. If you are breastfeeding, you may decide to wait until you have finished breastfeeding and then have the vaccination.

Please click here for more information. 

Section 2:

Being invited to, or booking, your Covid-19 vaccine appointment

Vaccinating people aged 65 to 69 and the clinically vulnerable 

The NHS is now vaccinating those aged 65 to 69 (as of Monday 15 February 2021) as well as people who are clinically vulnerable. 

Please read about the latest changes here: www.england.nhs.uk/2021/02/nhs-offers-covid-jab-to-clinically-vulnerable-and-people-65-to-69.

You can arrange a vaccination through the national booking service, here: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.

Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. 

Will 65-69 year olds be able to book through the National Booking Service without a letter?

No. People in this age group should continue to wait to be invited. 

Does this mean GP-led services should be inviting 65-69 year olds?

GPs have been asked to focus on vaccinating those on the Shielded Patients List, housebound patients and remaining care home residents and staff. 65-69 year olds will be invited by the National Booking Service to arrange an appointment at Vaccination Centres or pharmacy-led sites.

Vaccinating people aged 70 and over 

People aged 70 and over who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid and who would like to, are being asked to contact the NHS. 

Until now the NHS has asked people to wait until they are contacted to help ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected first - and that remains the case for most people. 

However, to ensure absolutely everyone is offered the vaccine, people aged 70 and over can now contact the NHS so they can be vaccinated. 

The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking service which can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

The system allows patients to choose a time slot and location that suits them. 

Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. 

If a suitable and convenient slot is not available people can also call their GP practice. 

Many who have not yet booked an appointment are already receiving follow up letters and phone calls this week to encourage them to take up the offer of a jab. 

Will this approach also apply to the next priority groups when it is their turn to be vaccinated?

No. For the moment this only applies to people aged 70 and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

When the time comes to start vaccinating other priority groups, this will be by invitation only so that we can manage the supplies of vaccines available in the fairest possible way.

Is my GP giving COVID-19 vaccines?

GP practices are working together as Primary Care Networks to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme. This means that you could be invited to a venue that is not your own GP practice. This planning safeguards against vaccine waste ensuring that the numbers of people that each facility is able to see in one week, is in line with the stock they receive.

What is a Vaccination Centre?

Now that more doses of Covid-19 vaccine are available, the NHS is able to open Vaccination Centres at sites such as Salt Hill in Slough and Epsom Racecourse which offer the physical space to deal with large numbers of people being vaccinated while maintaining social distancing. These sites are vaccinating people who have booked through the national booking system.

Please note:

  • Letters of invitation for the Vaccination Centres are sent from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service, to those in the priority cohorts, living within 45 minutes of a Vaccination Centre.
  • People can either book via the national booking service, or wait to be contacted by their GP.
  • People must book one appointment only. If two appointments are booked, people must cancel the appointment they are not going to attend, to avoid vaccine wastage and ensure we can reach as many people as we can as quickly as possible.
  • The NHS is inviting eligible people using a phased approach based on vaccine supply, so it is possible that where two eligible people are living in the same household, one may be contacted before the other. In such cases, people can wait and book at the same time if they wish.
  • People can also wait until more locations closer to where they live become available – for most people, their local GP practice will be the closest to them.
  • The NHS will follow up with people who haven’t booked their appointment, as a reminder.

I have been invited to a vaccination centre but I can’t travel there. Can I wait to have my vaccine closer to home?

Yes. Vaccination Centres have been setup in Slough as well as Epsom and Basingstoke. If you can travel, you are encouraged to have the vaccine as soon as you can. You will not miss out though if you do not want to go to the larger venues. 

If you would rather have your vaccine closer to home, you don’t need to do anything with the letter. Alternatively, you can choose to wait to be contacted by your local GP services (likely in the next few weeks to book you in locally). Please don't contact them (if they haven't been in contact already, this will be soon). 

Whichever site you attend for your first dose, you will need to go back to the same site for your second dose.

Can I get vaccinated at my local pharmacy?

In line with the national announcement, across the Frimley Health and Care ICS, Church Crookham pharmacy began vaccinating on 21 January.

The National Booking Service also handles bookings for pharmacy-led vaccination services, of which there are around 200 across the country. Only a small number of people don’t live within travelling distance of at least one of these services.

People who have received their letter with details of the national booking system will be able to book their appointment at the pharmacy, or choose an alternative venue option that is closer to them. For more information, please click here.

Does this mean people can turn up at vaccination services without an appointment? 

No. People will still need to make an appointment in advance before going to any vaccination service. This is important because booking slots are carefully managed to allow for social distancing and the number of appointments is based on the supply available that day.

When will care home residents and housebound patients get their vaccine?

Across our Frimley Health and Care ICS, we are on track to vaccinate in all our eligible care homes.

Those who are housebound will be contacted by their GP services about how they will be vaccinated.

I'm a carer, will I be offered a COVID-19 vaccine? 

Unpaid carers will receive a vaccine at the cohort 6 stage (view priority groups on the GOV.UK website here). 

Unpaid carers are identified as those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

However if an unpaid carer comes in and they are in the aged 70 and over cohort that we are vaccinating, then they can be vaccinated.

I am a front line health/social care worker – how can I get vaccinated? 

All frontline health and social care workers will be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination regardless of whether they work in hospitals, people’s homes or another setting, and regardless of who employs them. More information is available on our website here.

I’m a private healthcare provider (e.g. physiotherapist), when will I be able to get a vaccine?

Front line health and care workers are part of the priority groups. Please click here for the email address and detail about what information to provide to facilitate your booking.

I am a key worker – can I get vaccinated?

The national vaccine strategy which informs how we are able to deliver the vaccine across our Frimley Health and Care ICS is based on the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Complete details regarding the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination can be found here.

How do I get an NHS number?

You may already have an NHS number but just don’t know it. If you don’t know your NHS number, you can find out if you have one and what it is at: https://digital.nhs.uk/services/nhs-number

If you don’t have an NHS number this is likely to be because you are not registered with a GP. If this is the case, we would recommend speaking with your local practice about registering.

As well as getting access to Covid-19 vaccines, being registered with a GP also means you are invited to important health checks such as for cancer or heart disease, and can access care easier when you need it.

More information on registering with a GP is available at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/.

Do I need to know my NHS number to use the booking website/phone line?

No. It’s easier if you do have your NHS number, but if you don’t both the NHS booking website and phone line can still book appointments using other details, provided you are registered with a GP practice.

You can find your NHS number on the NHS App or at www.nhs.uk/find-nhs-number.

What if I book an appointment through the NHS website or 119 and I need to rearrange it?

If you need to rearrange an appointment that you booked through the NHS website, you can do this through the ‘manage your appointments’ section on the booking page.

If you booked through 119, you can also ring to rearrange your appointment.

If you can’t attend your appointment for any reason, please cancel or rearrange it so that the appointment slot can be given to someone else who needs it.

Can I still book if I previously had an appointment but didn’t attend or cancel it?

Yes. Only those who have had a vaccination recorded are marked on our system and are therefore unable to book again.

A letter came to my home but it was for someone else. Can I still use it to book an appointment?

No. Unless you are aged 70 or over or on the Shielded Patients List you will not be able to book an appointment.

If you receive a letter for someone who does not live at your address anymore, please return to sender in the usual way so that our records can be updated.

Why have I not been contacted by anyone about a vaccination?

If you are 70 or over or on the Shielded Patient List, then it is likely that you have been contacted by the NHS already. If you haven’t, this could be for a number of reasons, but is most likely to be because you are not registered with a GP or have recently moved, and we therefore don’t have your contact details.

If you have never registered with a GP or haven’t been to a GP for a number of years, we would recommend speaking with your local practice about registering.

As well as getting access to Covid-19 vaccines, being registered with a GP also means you are invited to important health checks such as for cancer or heart disease, and can access care easier when you need it.

More information on registering with a GP is available at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/

Section 3: Vaccination day - what you need to know on the day

What happens when I go for my COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

There will be a team on hand to make your appointment visit run as smoothly as possible. There are a few things you can do to help us:

  • Please try to arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. If you do arrive early, please stay safe in your car until it is time for your appointment to help maintain social distancing measures. It is also cold at this time of year, so please wrap up warm.
  • Please wear your face coverings.
  • If you need help with mobility please alert one of the staff and we will help support you and navigate you through the clinic.

When you arrive, volunteer marshals will show you where to go and you will be asked to sign in at a reception area.

Once you have had your vaccination, you will be required to wait for 15 minutes to ensure there are no adverse side effects. You must then leave the premises as soon as you are invited to do so.

Do I need my NHS number when I have my COVID-19 vaccine?

If you have your NHS number to hand, then bring it along with you to your appointment as it is helpful. You can find your NHS number on any correspondence from the NHS or via the NHS app.

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, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine. 

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. 

Section 4: What happens once you've been vaccinated

I’m clinically extremely vulnerable and I’ve had my COVID-19 vaccine. Do I still need to shield?

Yes. People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to shield even after being fully vaccinated against the virus.

Updated shielding guidance (5/1/21) outlines that clinically extremely vulnerable will get priority access to vaccination against COVID-19 before the general population and in line with the priority ordering set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). You will be contacted again by the NHS with more information on when and how you will be invited to get the vaccine.

The vaccine is likely to make an important contribution towards protecting you from COVID-19. Clinically extremely vulnerable people are expected to receive a vaccination against COVID-19 before the general population. Your local NHS will ensure that you can receive the vaccine as safely as possible, as well as any care and support needed. Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow this shielding advice, until further notice as we continue to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups. The people you live with should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance as long as they are in place, including if you have received the vaccine and also if they have received the vaccine.

If I've already had my first dose will I be able to book my second in this way? 

No. You will only be able to book if our records show you have yet to have your first dose. If you have already had your first dose, please wait for the NHS to contact you about your second.

Can I visit a care home if either I, or the resident, has had a COVID-19 vaccine?

Having a vaccine does not change the current visiting measures in place for care homes. There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. Care homes should continue to follow strict policies and procedures to ensure residents, staff and visitors are safe, including high quality infection prevention and control practices.

PHE have advised that after vaccination everyone should still adhere to all infection prevention control measures, including routine testing. National lockdown: Stay at Home guidance states that visits to care homes can go ahead, but only using pods, full screens and window visits. Visitors are not allowed inside the care home.

Can I hug my grandchildren now I am vaccinated?

Hands – face – space: it still applies – now is not the time to be complacent

  • It may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine
  • While the person vaccinated may be protected, they may still be able to pass the virus onto others

It is really important that while restrictions are in place, that everyone adheres to them. We must continue to wash our hands regularly for 20 seconds, wear a face covering indoors and maintain social distancing.

These winter days can be a very isolating time for many, and we all are longing to hug our friends, children, grandchildren, and our loved ones. Now more than ever, we need to focus on the long-term goals and reduce community transmission of the coronavirus.