Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca have both been approved for use in the UK. A third COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna has also been approved in the UK for spring rollout. Ealing residents are now receiving their vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to people most at risk from coronavirus. Older people, clinically vulnerable and frontline staff will be the first to be vaccinated. Over the coming weeks and months your GP will contact you with details of how you can receive the vaccine. If you are contacted, please be prepared to attend the appointment. We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but you will be invited for a COVID-19 vaccine when it is your turn so please do not contact your GP.

Frequently asked questions

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is starting, you might have questions about the vaccine. The NHS has put together some useful FAQs.

How the COVID-19 vaccine is given?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It is given as two doses. You will have the 2nd dose 3 to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose.

How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Any COVID-19 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 reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.

How long does the vaccine take to become effective?

The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the two doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.

There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. This means it is important to continue to follow social distancing guidance and, if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people.

Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?

The COVID-19 vaccine will reduce the chance of your suffering from coronavirus. Getting your vaccine as soon as you can, should protect you and may help to protect your family and those you care for.

The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?

The two approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg.

If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs.

Who cannot have the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended for women who are pregnant.

People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered.

I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?

People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (cough, high temperature, loss of sense of smell or taste) should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.

Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?

Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.

Are there any known or anticipated side effects?

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

As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.

I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?

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.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me from flu?

No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu. If you have been offered a flu vaccine, please try to have this as soon as possible to help protect you, your family and patients from flu this winter

Useful links

For more information, go to the NHS website