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COVID-19 Vaccinations

COVID-19 Vaccination

In this article we’ll look at some of the most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs

This article has been medically approved by Superintendent Pharmacist Phil Day, MRPharmS (IPresc) - GPhC Reg No: 2043558


Who is eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccination?

The first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems. As the risk of mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age.

The order of priority for each group in the population corresponds with data on the number of individuals who would need to be vaccinated to prevent one death, estimated from UK data obtained from March to June 2020.

  • residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  • all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  • all those 75 years of age and over
  • all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals [footnote 1]
  • all those 65 years of age and over
  • all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at
  • higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  • all those 60 years of age and over
  • all those 55 years of age and over
  • all those 50 years of age and over

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

The two currently available vaccines have an efficacy of between 70% and 90% at preventing Covid-19 symptoms, when measured 3 weeks after the first injection is given; however, they are also between 95% and 100% effective at preventing severe symptoms and hospitalisation.

After the second dose of the vaccine, the efficacy increases further, and the duration of its effect is also increased. However, while the vaccine can prevent you from getting COVID-19 symptoms, we don't yet know if it also stops you from spreading the virus to other people, so it's still important to follow social distancing guidance, and cover your nose and mouth in places where you are near other people.

What are the side effects?

Side effects are similar to other vaccinations, and can include muscle pain at the injection site, headaches, and tiredness. There is a possibility of an allergic reaction to any vaccine, but this is very rare, and all vaccination staff are prepared for this.

Why should you get the COVID vaccine?

The vaccine is very likely to prevent you from getting COVID-19 symptoms if you are exposed to the virus, and even if you do catch the virus and display symptoms, the vaccine is extremely likely to stop them being so bad that you require a trip to hospital.

How often do you need to get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Current guidance is that the first dose of the vaccine should be given when you are invited by the NHS, and the second dose can be given any time from 3 weeks to 12 weeks afterwards. The routine interval for the second dose to be given is now 12 weeks after the first dose.

Is it safe for pregnant women to have the COVID-19 vaccine?

While there have been no trials of the current vaccines in pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest they are harmful. However, the current guidance is that pregnant women should not routinely be given the vaccine unless they are at a high risk from COVID-19 symptoms and have discussed this with their doctor or nurse. This guidance may change. It is considered safe for the vaccine to be given if you are breastfeeding.

Is there anyone who should not have the COVID-19 vaccine?

People who have had a previous serious allergic reaction to a vaccine should not have this vaccination. Pregnant women, unless they are at a high risk, should also wait until their pregnancy is over, or until the NHS guidance changes. The vaccine is being rolled out by the NHS to the highest priority groups first, so you may need to wait a while before being invited for vaccination.

Once I have booked do I need to do anything before arrival?

It's best to wear clothing that will allow easy access to the upper arm - the injection is given into the muscle near the top of the shoulder.

What ID do I need to bring on the day?

You should take your invite letter with you on the day as your details will need to be confirmed, such as your name, address, date of birth and NHS number.

What social distancing measures will be in place?

All sites will be different, our sister company Pharmacy2U have several vaccination sites across the UK and all sites should be operated on a similar basis which will be as follows; All staff will be wearing PPE. You will also be required to wear a face mask throughout your time on site so please do come prepared. If you do not have a face mask on arrival, you will be provided with one.

When you arrive, the team will ask you to confirm that you are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms and that people within your household are not self-isolating or awaiting COVID-19 test results.

Pharmacy2U also request that if you are experiencing any of the known symptoms of COVID-19 on the day of your visit that you do not attend, and they ask that you use the links within your booking confirmation to cancel the appointment.

The clinical team will be always wearing the required PPE for your safety and protection.

Does this cost the NHS more than using my GP?

No, Pharmacy2U are providing COVID-19 vaccinations as an NHS service, in the same way as GPs. Pharmacy2U is supporting the NHS with COVID-19 vaccinations to ease pressure on GPs.

Who will be administering the vaccination?

Pharmacy2U’s team of trained and registered healthcare professionals will administer the vaccination. All of their team will be conforming to the highest NHS and COVID-19 hygiene standards.

What happens after the vaccination?

If you are driving yourself to the appointment, Pharmacy2U will advise you to wait in your car for 15 minutes after your vaccination, to check you are ok before you leave. They will also send you an email which will include general information and after care advice.

Who do I contact if I experience side effects after leaving the site?

You can talk to one of the pharmacists on site or your GP. You can also call NHS 111

Most side effects are mild and pass by themselves. You should move your arm (to help spread the vaccination around your body) and try a simple painkiller. All vaccination staff are trained to recognise and manage the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and while very rare, this usually happens within 2 minutes of the injection being given. If you have driven yourself to your appointment, you will be asked to remain on site for 15 minutes after your vaccination to monitor for side effects or reactions before you leave.

If you think you are having a serious allergic reaction, you should call 999, although this is very rare (estimated to be around 1 in 900,000 people) and usually happens within minutes of injection.

Do I need to inform my GP that I have had the COVID-19 vaccination?

No, Pharmacy2U will do this, and are required to do this. Once your appointment has been completed, their team will update your GP within 24 hours.

What if I get symptoms of COVID-19 before my COVID-19 vaccination appointment?

If you have a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you could be displaying the symptoms of a coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

If you're experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus before your COVID-19 vaccination, you must not attend your appointment.

How much does it cost?

It's free.

Do I need to be registered with Pharmacy2U to have the COVID-19 vaccination?

No, this service is being offered to all patients who are invited to have their vaccination.

Will you be administering the Pfizer or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine?

Most sites Pharmacy2U are operating will be administering the Oxford/Astra Zeneca Vaccine however, depending on the local supply of vaccines at the time, this may change. Patients who are given one type of vaccine will receive the same type for their follow up jab.

If you’ve had a flu vaccination recently, do you have to wait a certain period of time before having a COVID vaccine?

The vaccine is recommended to be given at least a week apart from your flu jab. It's better to be protected from flu as soon as possible, so if you are eligible for a flu jab and haven’t yet had it this winter, contact your GP or community pharmacy. Don’t wait to have the COVID vaccine first.