What vaccines are available?
The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine are now available across the UK.
About the coronavirus vaccine
You need 2 doses of the vaccine to get the best protection from the virus. Your second dose will be given around 8-12 weeks after your first. When you book your first appointment, you will also need to book your second appointment.
Some people may not be able to get this vaccine at the moment. If you have had bad allergic reactions in the past, it is important that you read all the guidance. You can also ask about it when you book, or discuss it with a health professional when you attend your appointment.
If you are pregnant, or think you might be pregnant, you should speak to your healthcare professional before booking a vaccine appointment.
Further information is available on NHS.UK
How many people have been vaccinated?
Please visit this link for the latest vaccination statistics:https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/healthcare
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccination?
The NHS in England is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to all adults over the age of 18.
To book your vaccine, please use this link.
For details about 'no appointment necessary', drop-in times across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes for either Pfizer or Astra Zeneca vaccines please visit this page.
Are there any side effects?
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
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
- feeling or being sick
I have heard it 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 antibodies to the spike and there is no evidence of fertility problems after COVID-19 disease.
Can pregnant women have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines?
The latest advice, from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is that the vaccine should be considered for pregnant women when their risk of exposure to the virus infection is high and cannot be avoided, or if the woman has underlying conditions that place her at a very high risk of complications of COVID-19. Women should discuss the benefits and risks of having the vaccine with their healthcare professional and reach a joint decision based on individual circumstances. Women who are breastfeeding can also be given the vaccine.
Can I do what I want after I have been vaccinated?
It is essential that everyone continues to stay at home if possible whether they have had the vaccine or not.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance social distancing guidance
- Wearing a face mask and remembering hands, face, space
How were the vaccines developed so quickly?
These vaccines have had three stages of clinical trials and have been tested on tens of thousands of people around the world.
The trial phases were run in parallel, speeding up the overall time of vaccine production, but not the critical research time.
Time has also been gained because:
- Vaccine trial volunteers were recruited at the start of the process, so they were ready to go once the vaccine was ready to trial
- The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) made this their top priority
- Plans were made for the next phase of trials by the companies without having to wait for investor decisions.
- Companies made decisions to begin large scale production of vaccines which are still in trials. So, if vaccines were found to be safe and effective, they would be ready to be distributed.
Are there animal products in the vaccine?
The MHRA has confirmed that the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine do not contain any components of animal origin.
How do I know it has been tested on a wide range of people?
Each of the vaccines are 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.
The Pfizer/BioNTech trial participants were 51.5% were male and 48.5% were female, 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 native.
Pfizer/BioNTech trials took place in the US, Europe, Turkey, South Africa and South America.
The AstraZeneca trial participant group comprised of 90.3% aged 18 to 64 years and 9.7% aged 65 years or older. The those who took part in the trial were White (75.5%), 10.1% were Black and 3.5% were Asian; 55.8% were female and 44.2% male.
AstraZeneca also included a trial in South Africa of 2,130 participants, and another in the US including African American, Hispanic and Native American participants.
In the AstraZeneca trials, the non-white demographic in the UK trial was 8% in the Brazil trial it was 34.2% and in South Africa it was 87.5%.
How do we know the vaccines protect people from COVID-19?
The Pfizer / BioNTech and Astra Zeneca / Oxford vaccines have been shown to provide a high level of protection from symptomatic COVID-19. We do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission and so we will vaccinate those who are at highest risk of serious illness and death. This includes older people and care home residents.
As vaccination programmes roll out globally, our understanding of the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine will increase, and these data will be used to develop advice on the next phase of the programme.
Every single vaccine authorised for use in the UK has been authorised by the MHRA and the three parts of authorisation are a safety assessment, an effectiveness assessment and a manufacturing quality assessment.
What is government doing to stop vaccine fraud?
The vaccine is only available free from the NHS. At no point will a patient be asked to pay.
Advice from Action Fraud:
- 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 license, bills or pay slips.