Information about Vaccination against COVID-19
What is COVID-19 or coronavirus?
COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2. It is very infectious and can be severe. Some people have only mild symptoms or no symptoms but are still infectious. Symptoms include cough, fever, headache and loss of taste or smell. However up to 20% of cases are ‘severe’, such as needing oxygen or other treatment, and some have prolonged complications. Overall fewer than 1 in 100 cases die from COVID-19, but in those over 75 years of age this rises to 1 in 10. There is no cure for COVID-19 although some newly tested treatments do help to reduce the risk of complications.
About the types of vaccine
In the UK so far, only one type of vaccine is available: the ‘BNT162b2 mRNA COVID Vaccine’ made by BioNTech and Pfizer. Currently there is no choice of different vaccines. All vaccines being developed require two doses, and this vaccine requires a second dose 21 days after the first.
Who should have the COVID-19 vaccines?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), an independent expert group, has recommended that the NHS offers these vaccines first to those at highest risk of catching the infection and of suffering serious complications if they catch the infection. This includes older adults (age is the biggest risk factor), frontline health and social care workers, care home residents and staff, and those with certain clinical conditions. When more vaccine becomes available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible.
Who cannot have the vaccine?
The vaccines do not contain living organisms, and so are safe for people with disorders of the immune system. These people may not respond so well to the vaccine but should still have it. A very small number of people cannot have the vaccine – this includes people who have severe allergies (such as a history of anaphylaxis) to any vaccine, medicine or food. Anyone who is currently ill with a fever or has had another vaccine (including flu vaccine) in the last week should delay vaccination. Women of childbearing age, those who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding should read the detailed information available on the NHS Website
Will the vaccine protect you?
The vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. The vaccine has been shown to be approx. 95% effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people who received vaccine. Full scientific data. No vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.
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 should still have the second dose to get the best protection against the virus. In the clinical trial, serious adverse events were seen in 0.6% of the vaccinated group and 0.5% of the placebo (no vaccine) group. This is at least as good as most established vaccines.
Common (10% or more) 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. There may be visible bruising.
- feeling tired
- general aches, or mild ‘flu-like’ symptoms Less commonly the injection site may be red or swollen.
Although feeling feverish is possible for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection. You can rest and take normal doses of paracetamol to help you feel better.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 need to 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. You can also report suspected side effects to vaccines and medicines online through the Yellow Card scheme.
I have had my flu vaccine; do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?
Yes. 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.
Can you catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
No. You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught COVID-19 before vaccination and not develop symptoms until afterwards. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home, and arrange to have a test. Further information on symptoms is available the NHS Website.
What to do next
After you have had the first dose you need to make sure you get the second dose at the right time. You should have a record card with your next appointment written on it for an appointment in 21 days. It is important to have both doses of the vaccine to give you the best protection. Keep your record card safe and make sure you keep your next appointment to get your second dose.
If you are not well when it is your next appointment
If you are unwell, it is better to wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine, but you should try to have it as soon as possible. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a COVID-19 test or unsure about being well enough.
Can you give COVID-19 to anyone, because of having the vaccine?
No. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection. We know the vaccine prevents getting ill, but we do not know how much it prevents being a carrier. If you catch COVID19 but have no symptoms, you may still pass on the infection to others. So, it is 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:
- practice social distancing
- wear a face mask
- wash your hands carefully and frequently
- follow any other current guidance
Please read the product information leaflet for more details on your vaccine, including possible side effects, on the Coronavirus Yellow Card website. You can also report suspected side effects on the same website or by downloading the Yellow Card app. More information is available on the nhs website
This leaflet has been written for Oxford Central Primary Care Network- a network of five practices: 27 Beaumont Street, 28 Beaumont Street, Dr Leaver & Partners, King Edward Street and Observatory