Here you can find key information about the new COVID-19 vaccinations. All information has been taken from trusted sources including the NHS and UK government. Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccination and the roll-out programme on the NHS website.
You can also view the easy read version of the vaccination information.
Information may change so please continue to check back for the latest updates.
In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres.
At the moment, the following groups are being prioritised to receive the vaccine first
- people aged 80 and over
- some people aged 70 and over
- some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
Other people will be invited to receive the vaccine once these groups have been vaccinated.
You also need to be registered with a GP surgery in England.
The order in which people are being offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Vaccine trial tests
Each vaccine approved for use in the UK has been tested in more than 20,000 people in several different countries and shown to be safe.
To date, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine. Reports on serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported. All new medications are monitored to ensure any hazards are promptly identified.
You can find out more about what to expect when you have had your vaccination.
Do I need to get vaccinated?
It is your choice. However, having the vaccine means it is much less likely that you will get ill from COVID-19.
Doctors and Public Health officials believe that the COVID-19 vaccination is one of the ways to protect yourself from requiring NHS care.
The vaccine doesn't completely stop everyone getting coronavirus, but if you do still get coronavirus you shouldn't get as ill if you've had the vaccination.
Vaccines work by teaching your immune system how to protect you from diseases, by creating antibodies. Vaccination is a safer way for your immune system to learn how to do this, rather than catching the disease, which may cause you to be seriously ill.
You can find out more about how vaccinations work and how important they are.
It generally takes around two to three weeks for your body to build immunity after having the vaccination.
You need two doses of the vaccine to get longer-lasting protection from COVID-19. The first dose of the vaccine should give you good protection, but you need both doses to give you longer-lasting protection.
If you have the COVID-19 vaccination, it is important that you continue to follow the rules to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Remember to wash hands regularly, wear face coverings and make space from others and follow all national or local restrictions in place, to help reduce the likelihood of passing on the virus.
Vaccination and COVID-19 infection
It's possible to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because your body has not had sufficient time to fully develop immunity to the virus.
Therefore, having the vaccine cannot completely stop the risk of catching or passing on the virus to other people.
This means we all still need to remember: hands, face, space and to ventilate rooms well and follow all national or local restrictions in place.
It is important that if you are vaccinated you still need to follow social distancing rules to protect yourself and others.
The vaccine protects against severe illness and death. However, it is not yet clear if having the COVID-19 vaccine will stop people catching and spreading COVID-19 infection.
It can also take a few weeks after vaccination before you are protected from infection. The vaccines currently available in the UK require, two doses, spaced weeks apart, for the best level of protection.
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
Find out more about possible side effects.
Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111.
If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination (show them the vaccination card if possible) so that they can assess you properly.
All vaccines approved for use in the UK, including the COVID-19 vaccine, have to meet strict safely standards.
The COVID-19 vaccines approved in the UK have had to meet strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The MHRA has had to follow international standards of safety. It is no different now, even though we are in a pandemic.
All COVID-19 vaccines that are approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The vaccine has been shown to be effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people.
As of 16 January 2021 3,857,266 people have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination. You can view the latest vaccination figures online.
Testing the vaccine
All of the safety checks and approval steps that are required for any other new drug or vaccine have been completed for the approved COVID-19 vaccines.
There are a several reasons why progress on the vaccines has been so fast.
The recognition of the pandemic has accelerated the development and testing of several vaccines using platforms investigated during previous emergencies such as the SARS pandemic and Ebola in West Africa.
The global nature of COVID-19 has meant that a vaccine was needed urgently by all countries Many researchers across the world stopped their previous work and focused entirely on the COVID-19 vaccination.
Normally, before researchers start their work, they have to apply for grants for each project which can take a long time. For COVID-19, financial investment from governments removed this need. Data was also shared openly, and big research teams were quickly formed. Clinical trials for other new drugs were halted and the infrastructure supporting these trials was turned over to COVID-19 vaccine efforts. Huge numbers of volunteers then stepped forward.
The ongoing pandemic also meant that the virus was still common in the community, so vaccinated volunteers were exposed to the virus quickly and data on how effective the vaccines are could be collected within weeks. For example, 43,000 people were included in the Phase III safety trial for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. Normally far lower numbers are recruited to this type of trial as volunteers are hard to find and the actual infection is rare.
Vaccine and COVID-19 variants
Information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they might spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorised vaccines will protect people against them. Work is ongoing to prepare for any required updates to the vaccine in response to virus mutations.
There's no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can be routinely offered the vaccine.
If you are considering pregnancy, are pregnant or breastfeeding speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine with you.
Find out more about the vaccination and pregnancy.
Government are advising that women who are breastfeeding can be vaccinated, but if you are breastfeeding and have any concerns or require further information then you should speak to a health professional.