Once you have had the vaccine, there is still a chance you might get or spread coronavirus. It is vital that you keep following the restrictions and rules about social distancing and face coverings for the time being, even if you have had the vaccine.
The NHS is working hard to get the vaccine to everyone who is eligible as quickly as possible. Please do not contact your GP or other NHS service to ask for the vaccine; you will be invited to receive it when it is your turn.
Currently, the NHS is working to make the vaccine available to:
There are now more than 30 GP-led local vaccination services delivering the vaccine in the community, and the first large vaccination centre in Sussex will open in Brighton on Monday 25th January.
The vaccination programme will be expanding over the coming weeks and months to include:
Hospital hubs will now focus on vaccinating health and social care staff.
A priority in the NHS planning is to ensure that it is as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated when it is their turn.
GP surgeries are working together in groups to ensure that patients can receive the vaccine locally, while also maintaining usual services for patients. In some instances community health teams may also be providing the vaccine.
You will be told where to go when an appointment is made for you and if you need help getting there, such as patient transport, this will be discussed with you at that time.
You will be contacted by the first NHS service that is able to offer you a vaccination. This may be your GP, one of the large vaccination centres or another NHS service.
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. Again, it’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then. Note that you must still have received an invitation to book an appointment at one of the large vaccination centres.
You may be contacted by telephone, by letter, or by SMS/text message.
If you miss a call to offer you the vaccine you will remain on the list and the practice/team will contact you again. If they cannot get through to you by telephone they will contact you by letter.
If you miss your appointment the vaccine team will attempt to rebook you, contacting you either by telephone, by letter, or both methods if necessary.
The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of death from COVID-19 and the protection of health and social care staff and systems. Secondary priorities could include vaccination of those at increased risk of hospitalisation and at increased risk of exposure, and to maintain resilience in essential public services.
It will take a while to gather evidence of the effects of the vaccination on transmission of the virus, i.e. whether people who have had the vaccine can still catch and spread the virus. In addition, at the start of the vaccination programme, vaccine availability will be limited, though this will improve as time goes on. The JCVI therefore advises that the best option in the initial phase of the programme is to directly protect the people who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill.
The COVID-19 vaccine is a remarkable scientific breakthrough but it will take time to get it to everyone who needs it. We are asking people to be patient.
Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll have more vaccination services up and running across Sussex as we receive more supplies of the vaccines, including in care homes and people’s own homes if they can’t get to a site.
NHS services and local authorities have a range of established means for engaging with these groups. We are currently working with our partners across the NHS, in local authorities, and in the voluntary and community sector to establish processes to ensure that all people in these groups are identified and offered a vaccination as they become eligible.
Any resident registered temporarily with a Sussex GP practice is entitled to receive their vaccine through that practice. They will be included in the correct priority group and invited for vaccination as appropriate. If you are not registered with a practice you should call your nearest practice to register as a temporary resident.
Overseas visitors to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will be entitled to the COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the government’s priority groups. They will not be charged for testing for coronavirus (even if the test shows you do not have coronavirus); treatment for coronavirus, or the vaccine, and no immigration checks are needed for any of these services.
See GOV.UK: NHS entitlements for migrants for information in other languages.
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered, and until at least four weeks after the onset of symptoms or the date of their first positive test.
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 (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the vaccine when it is their time to do so.
In Sussex we are using a range of communications materials to communicate about the vaccine, and hope to provide these in alternative languages and formats.
We are also introducing Vaccination Champions, who are members of the public who have volunteered to raise awareness of the vaccine, share NHS information about it, and to dispel any myths.
Yes. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and so is within the rules wherever you live. Vaccinations will continue as normal in all areas regardless of the lockdown.
In addition, please be aware that under government guidelines a family member or friend is permitted to take a person to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment, which is classed as an exemption as it is a ‘medical appointment’. Guidance on how to car share safely is available.
If you have booked or are offered an appointment, please do attend it. The place where you have your vaccine will keep you safe from COVID-19 through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting and having social distancing in waiting areas.
Please wear a face covering to your appointment. You should also take the usual steps to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.
With new services becoming available every week, the NHS and local authorities are working together closely to ensure that processes are in place for all eligible workers who have not yet had the opportunity to book an appointment. New national guidance for the vaccination of health and care workers was published last week and arrangements are currently being developed to make the best use of all available vaccination slots and ensure that those who are most at risk of exposure to the virus receive their first vaccination as quickly as possible.
We recognise the high interest and demand for the vaccination and would like to reassure colleagues that the new arrangements being put in place will mean that more health and care workers can get their vaccination more quickly. As soon as the new arrangements are finalised, further details will be made available through NHS and local authority partners, setting out clearly how eligible workers can arrange their vaccination. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience as we work to put these arrangements in place.
No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS for the moment. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police and/or Local Trading Standards.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures. Special freezers are required for this and each centre that is using this vaccine will have appropriate storage.. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, however, can be stored at fridge temperatures (2-8°C), making it easier to distribute to care homes and other locations.
Coronavirus is the greatest health challenge in NHS history, taking loved ones from us and disrupting every part of our lives.
Hospitals have now cared for more than 190,000 seriously ill COVID-19 patients and have seen beds fill up again in recent weeks.
The arrival of the vaccines mark a decisive turning point in the battle with the pandemic. NHS vaccination programmes have successfully helped overcome tuberculosis, polio, and smallpox, and have now turned their focus to COVID-19.
Getting your COVID-19 vaccination is one of the best defences against the virus. It should help reduce the rates of serious illness, reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services, and above all, save lives.
There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in the healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.
The British Islamic Medical Association have produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community.
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.
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have been developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca. 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.
So far, over a million 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.
Other vaccines are also being developed, but they will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective. The Government has in principle secured access to seven different vaccine candidates, across four different vaccine types, totalling over 367 million doses. This includes:
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca are very effective vaccines. Comparisons between the vaccine are unhelpful, as it is not as simple as saying one vaccine is better than the other. An effective vaccine will save lives and reduce hospitalisations.
It would be wrong to compare vaccines based on a simple percentage of effectiveness. A vaccine with slightly lower headline efficacy than another may prove to be the one that offers more durable protection or a greater effect on transmission.
Both vaccines have been approved because they passed the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get will be highly effective and protect them from COVID‑19.
Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while.
There is no evidence currently that the new strains will be resistant to the vaccines we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccine. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm.
The MHRA has authorised the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on a two-dose schedule, with the second dose to be given after four weeks but within 12 weeks of the first.
Following a review of clinical evidence and latest public health data, the JCVI and the Department for Health and Social Care have also now updated guidance for the NHS on the second dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It recommends that the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will also be offered between 3 and 12 weeks apart.
The four UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have said: ‘Prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at-risk people overall in the shortest possible time’.
Full protection kicks in around a week or two after the second dose, which is why it is so important that when you are invited, you act on that and get yourself booked in as soon as possible.
The vaccines have been authorised on the basis of two doses 3-12 weeks apart because the evidence from the clinical trials shows that this gives the maximum level of protection.
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. We would urge everyone to attend both of their appointments for their own protection, as well as to ensure we don’t waste vaccines or the time of NHS staff.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. This means it is important to:
No, you will need to return to the same location for your second vaccination. You will be offered an appointment at the time of your first vaccination. The right amount and type of vaccine stock is then sent to the location to ensure that there is a vaccination available for you at the right time.
Most side effects are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.
If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.
If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.
Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them. A second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should currently not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.
Everybody will also be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions, and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just like with any other vaccine.
The original MHRA advice was that anybody with a known allergy to specific ingredients in the vaccine should not be vaccinated. This was temporarily widened but the guidance has now reverted to this.
Checking for allergies is a routine part of the process before giving any vaccine or new medicine. Having these conversations – as well as being able to deal with allergic reactions in the rare case they do happen, is a central part of training for vaccinators. But these are new vaccines and so the NHS and the MHRA are being extra vigilant and responding quickly to ensure everyone across the NHS is totally clear on these requirements.
We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer. This will be constantly monitored.
Yes, the digital system used to record your vaccination will send a message to the national immunisations database (used for all immunisations) and in turn to your GP.
The Government is securing vaccine stocks so they will not directly cost the NHS anything.
The MHRA approved the Moderna vaccine on 8 January 2021. The Government has now increased the UK’s order to 17 million doses of the vaccine, however it is understood that this will not be available until Spring 2021.
Medicines including vaccines are highly regulated – and that is no different for the approved COVID-19 vaccines. There a number of enablers that have made this ground-breaking medical advancement possible and why it was possible to develop them relatively quickly compared to other medicines:
1. The different phases of the clinical trials were delivered to overlap instead of run sequentially which sped up the clinical process.
2. There was a rolling assessment of data as soon as they were available so experts at the MHRA could review as the trial was being delivered, ask questions along the way and request extra information as needed – as opposed to getting all information at the end of a trial.
Pregnancy: The vaccines have not yet been tested in pregnancy, so until more information is available, those who are pregnant should not routinely have this vaccine. Non-clinical evidence is required before any clinical studies in pregnancy can start, and before that, it is usual to not recommend routine vaccination during pregnancy.
Evidence from non-clinical studies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been received and reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This evidence was also reviewed by World Health Organisation and the regulatory bodies in the USA, Canada and Europe and has raised no concerns about safety in pregnancy.
Non-clinical studies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have raised no concerns.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recognised that the potential benefits of vaccination are particularly important for some pregnant women. This includes those who are at very high risk of catching the infection or those with clinical conditions that put them at high risk of suffering serious complications from COVID‑19.
In these circumstances, you should discuss vaccination with your doctor or nurse, and you may feel that it is better to go ahead and receive the protection from the vaccine.
Breastfeeding: There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding or on the breastfed infant. Despite this, COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant, and the benefits of breast-feeding are well known. Because of this, the JCVI has recommended that the vaccine can be received whilst breastfeeding. This is in line with recommendations in the USA and from the World Health Organisation.
What does this mean for you?
Here are the key points you should consider:
If you are pregnant but think you are at high risk, you should discuss having or completing vaccination with your doctor or nurse.
Although the vaccine has not been tested in pregnancy, you may decide that the known risks from COVID-19 are so clear that you wish to go ahead with vaccination. There is no advice to avoid pregnancy after COVID-19 vaccination.
If you are breastfeeding, you may decide to wait until you have finished breastfeeding and then have the vaccination.
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.”
More information about the vaccine and fertility can be found at the Royal College of Gynaecologists website.
Anyone with health issues should consult their GP before having the vaccine. Individual circumstances will differ, so it is important that advice is sought.
Although the vaccines were not tested on those with very serious immunological conditions, they have been proven to be very effective and it is unlikely that the vaccines will have no effect at all on these individuals.
There may be a very small number of people with very complex or severe immunological problems who can’t make any response at all – but the vaccines should not do any harm to these individuals. Individuals meeting these criteria may want to discuss the vaccine further with their specialist doctor. However, the Government is exploring all avenues available to us, to ensure that a treatment for COVID-19 is found.
Treatments containing COVID-19 neutralising antibodies have been secured from AstraZeneca to support immunocompromised people who will not be able to benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine.
The antibody treatment currently being developed by AstraZeneca is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies and has the potential to be given as a preventative option for people exposed to the virus, and to treat and prevent disease progression in patients already infected by the virus if successful.
These decisions are for JCVI. Their current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.
All of the vaccines will be tested on between 15,000 to 50,000 people across the world. They are tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, and of all ages between 18-84.
The studies have also looked as to whether the vaccines work on people with certain medical conditions and in older people, as their immune responses can work less effectively and therefore give them less protection through vaccines. As a result of this testing on a representative sample of the population, we can be confident that an approved vaccine will be effective for the wider population in the UK.
There will be further studies to look at how best to use the different vaccines, for example, which vaccine is most effective in which individuals and what sized dose is most effective A number of vaccines remain in development, and these may offer benefits over the first approved vaccine/s.
All this ongoing research will be vitally important to ensure we get the best protection from the vaccine. Research and vaccine development will not end with the first approved vaccine – there will be a process of continuous improvement.
For both vaccines trial participants included a range of those from various ages, immune-compromised and those with underlying health conditions, and both found the efficacy of the vaccine translates through all the subgroups.
Details of trial participants for both vaccines are published online.
We are planning a mixed approach to ensuring that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely. For care home residents and those who can’t leave home, this will involve roving community teams coming to them.
The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that a family member or friend is still permitted to take elderly patients to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment under new tier 4 rules. This is under the exemption of ‘providing care for the vulnerable’. All of the usual precautions should be taken, however, including the wearing of face masks by both parties, the patient sitting in the back of the car where possible, and windows open for ventilation.
There are no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccines compulsory. The UK operates a system of informed consent for vaccinations.
Just as they do with the winter flu vaccine, the NHS in Sussex will be working hard to the population are able to get vaccinated, and that any concerns are answered.
We are confident that most of our population – as they do every year for the flu vaccine – will protect themselves by getting the vaccine.
No, the COVID-19 vaccines cannot change your DNA. There is no evidence to suggest that individual genetic material will undergo an alteration after receiving the vaccine.
We are aware that some people are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination. In some cases, people are asked to press a number on their keypad or to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine. Doing so is likely to result in a charge being applied to their phone bill. In other cases, callers are offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details.
People are warned to be alert to these scams.
The vaccine is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. At present, appointments are only being offered to people over 80 years old and to frontline health and social care workers.
The NHS will:
If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to Sussex Police online or by calling 101.
The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19, and we encourage you to get both vaccines.
It is not essential to leave time between the flu and COVID-19 vaccine but it is recommended that there should be a gap of a week.
No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu or stop you spreading the flu virus. You should still get your flu jab at the earliest opportunity to protect yourself and those around you. Do not delay getting a flu jab in anticipation of being offered the COVID-19 vaccine. To check whether you are eligible, visit www.nhs.uk/flujab. Guidance for social care workers on how to get the flu vaccine is also available.
Ideally there should be a gap of at least seven days between the flu jab and either dose of the COVID-19 vaccination (which is given in two doses 3–12 weeks apart). If you are called to get a COVID-19 vaccination within seven days of receiving your flu jab, in the majority of cases, vaccination with the COVID-19 vaccine will proceed to avoid any further delay in protection. The suggested seven-day gap between the flu jab and COVID-19 vaccine is recommended so that if you experience any side-effects it will be easier to identify which vaccine caused them.
No. Every eligible person in Sussex will be invited to have a COVID-19 vaccine, whether they have had the flu jab or not.
You will be contacted when it’s your turn so there is no need to contact your GP. Please do not to contact the NHS for a vaccination.
The CCGs’ Communications and Public Involvement Team ensure that our people and communities across Sussex can ask questions and give feedback about their experiences at this difficult time.
Please contact the team using the contact details below:
Telephone: 01273 238 725
Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users can use a Video Relay Service (VRS) called SignLive (a free app which connects D/deaf people to a qualified British Sign Language Interpreter before connecting you to one of the Public Involvement Team).
Simply download the SignLive app, register your details, and search for NHS Brighton and Hove in the Community Directory. An interpreter will join you on the call before the call is put through to the Public Involvement team.
This service is currently available every Thursday from 14:00-16:00. Please contact the Public Involvement team using the details above if this is not convenient.
You can raise issues through Healthwatch, which is an independent body responsible for gathering people’s views of health and social care services. Contact details are below:
Healthwatch Brighton and Hove
Telephone: 01273 234 040
Healthwatch West Sussex
Telephone: 0300 012 0122