You can learn more about the coronavirus vaccine on this page.
This information was current at the time this page was last updated on: 5 February 2021 at 16.30pm
The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine
It is hoped that the coronavirus vaccine gives you the best protection against coronavirus.
It is given as an injection into your upper arm in two doses, at least 21 days apart.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
After having both doses of the vaccine most people will be protected against coronavirus.
It takes a few weeks after getting the 2nd dose for it to work.
There is a small chance you might still get coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to socially distance (keep 2 metres apart from people)
- wear a face covering, if you’re not exempt
- Continue to follow Hands Face Space
Why is it important to get a COVID-19 vaccine
If you’re a frontline worker working in social care, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work. Health care workers and those working in social care (particularly in care homes) are at much higher risk of repeated exposure to the infection.
Catching coronavirus can be serious and may lead to longer term illness. These are more common in older staff or those with underlying health problems.
You can have COVID-19 without any symptoms and pass it on to family, friends or residents you support. Being healthy does not reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on.
With high rates of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to help stop the spread of coronavirus, to avoid pressure on the NHS and to keep people safe.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
There are three vaccines approved for use in the UK.
They have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
So far, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and no serious side effects or complications have been reported.
Read about the approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 by MHRA on GOV.UK
Will the vaccine protect me?
The vaccine will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease.
Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, and it takes a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but if you do get it then you will not be as poorly.
The vaccine has been shown to be effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people.
When can I get my coronavirus vaccine?
The NHS, your GP or your local council will contact you when they are ready for you to have the vaccine.
They are working through a list, with people who are more at risk having the vaccine first. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccine before then.
You can see the priority groups on the Government website.
Will the vaccine protect those I care for?
The evidence on whether the coronavirus vaccine reduces the chance of you passing on the virus is less clear.
Most vaccines reduce the overall risk of infection, but some people who have had the vaccine may get mild or asymptomatic infection and so be able to pass the virus on.
It is highly likely that any infection in someone that has had the vaccine will be less infectious if passed on. The NHS expects that vaccinated health and care staff will be less likely to pass infection to their friends and family and to the vulnerable people that they care for.
Women of childbearing age, pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding
Like all new medicines the vaccines have not yet been tested in pregnant women.
If you are pregnant, the NHS advises waiting until your pregnancy is completed before you are vaccinated. If you have had the first dose, and then become pregnant, the NHS recommends delaying the second dose too.
If you find out that you are pregnant after you have had the vaccine, don’t worry. The vaccines do not contain organisms that multiply in the body, so they cannot cause COVID-19 infection in your unborn baby.
Most women who catch coronavirus during pregnancy do not suffer a more serious outcome than non-pregnant women and will go on to deliver a healthy baby.
Women of childbearing age, those who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, please read the detailed information available on NHS.UK.
What are the possible 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. Although you may get some protection from the first dose, having the second dose will give you the best protection against the virus.
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
- general aches, or mild flu like symptoms
Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection.
You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines online through the Yellow Card scheme or by downloading the Yellow Card app.
You can take the normal dose of paracetamol (follow the advice in the packaging) and rest to help you feel better. Do not exceed the normal dose.
These symptoms 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) so that they can assess you properly.
After I have had the vaccine will I still need to follow the guidance to stop the spread of coronavirus?
The vaccine cannot give you coronavirus, and 2 doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill.
No vaccine is completely effective, and it will take a few weeks for your body to build up protection.
So, you will still need to follow the guidance in your workplace, including wearing the correct personal protection equipment and taking part in any screening programmes.
To continue to protect yourself, residents you support, your family, friends and colleagues you should follow the general advice at work, at home and when you are out and about:
- practice social distancing
- wear a face mask
- wash your hands carefully and frequently
- follow the guidance in your local area
Where can I get more information?
You can visit the NHS page on the coronavirus vaccine for more information.