It’s important to protect yourself and your loved ones from false information about the coronavirus and the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Our ‘fact check’ section tackles some of the biggest concerns and inaccuracies.

Fact: vaccinations save lives

COVID-19 is potentially fatal. You can protect yourself by getting a vaccination when it is your turn.

Vaccination is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves from ill health. Vaccines prevent up to 3 million deaths worldwide every year. Since they were introduced in the UK, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus that used to kill or disable millions of people are either gone or seen very rarely.

Fact: the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and have been thoroughly tested

The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous safety tests as over 600 clinical trials that take place every year. They have been tested with adults of all ages, people with a range of health conditions from different ethnic backgrounds.

Fact: you will still need to social distance after you’ve had your COVID-19 vaccination

Even if you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine, you must follow the rules and stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s vital that you continue to follow social distancing guidance.

Fact: You will never be asked to pay for a COVID-19 vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccination is ONLY available from the NHS and it is free – you will never be asked to pay for it or give your bank details.

Fact: There are no animal products in the COVID-19 vaccines

Neither the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being used in the UK contain animal products. All ingredients are published in the healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

The UK vaccine rollout is endorsed by the British Islamic Medical AssociationHindu Council UK, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Fact: you do not need an NHS number to get your vaccination

While the NHS will contact people based on their GP records, this doesn’t mean that people that don’t have an NHS number or aren’t registered with a GP won’t be able to get vaccinated.

It does help to be registered with a GP to help the NHS check for any reasons that someone might not be able to have a vaccine, and ensure there is a record of vaccination. Information on registering with a GP is available.

Fact: the COVID-19 vaccines will not change your DNA

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot change your DNA. There is no evidence to suggest that your individual genetic material will undergo an alteration after getting the vaccine.

Fact: There is no material of foetal origin in the COVID-19 vaccines

All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

Fact: refugees and asylum seekers will be able to get the vaccine

There will be no charges for coronavirus testing, treatment and vaccination.

Overseas visitors to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will not be charged for:

  • testing for COVID-19 (even if the test shows they do not have COVID-19);
  • treatment for COVID-19, including for a related problem called multisystem inflammatory syndrome that affects some children;
  • vaccination against COVID-19.

No immigration checks are needed for overseas visitors if they are only tested, treated or vaccinated for COVID-19.

Fact: you can have the vaccine during Ramadan / the vaccine will not invalidate fasting

The British Islamic Medical Association have issued specific advice urging Muslims observing Ramadan not to delay getting the vaccine, drawing on analysis from Islamic scholars which says that injections for non-nutritional purposes do not invalidate the fast.

Fact: COVID-19 vaccinations will not be made mandatory

There are no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccines compulsory. The UK operates a system of informed consent for vaccinations. Just as we do with the winter flu vaccine, the NHS in Sussex is working hard to make sure that people are able to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and that any concerns are answered.

We are confident that most of our eligible population – as they do every year for the flu vaccine – will protect themselves by getting the vaccine.

Fact: the vaccines do not affect fertility

There is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility. The Royal College of Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives issued a statement on 19 January 2021, saying:

“There is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of Covid-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data.”

Find out more

If you’re not sure about an article, story or advice that you’ve seen or been given, there are ways to check it out. The government’s SHARE checklist helps spot misleading news or content.

Independent fact-checking organisations such as Full Fact also challenge and investigate false or misleading claims.