These FAQs will be fully updated next week (w/c 12 April 2021). In the meantime, if you are looking for information in relation to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, please see the key information below:
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 will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccination. We’re working hard get the vaccine to eligible people as quickly as supplies allow. We have made good progress and the target to offer the vaccination to everyone in the first four priority groups has been met, and we are now in a position to move on to those aged 50 and over and the priority groups 5 and 6. These are:
Priority group 5: If you are aged 65 or over you are eligible to book your vaccine. You may receive a letter inviting you to book, but even if you don’t you may go online to www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or call 119 free to book your vaccination appointment. These appointments will be at our large vaccination centres or community pharmacy-led sites.
You will not automatically receive an invitation from your local GP-led service. However, if it is difficult for you to get to one of the larger sites, you may have your vaccine at a GP-led site, and we hope to be able to provide information as to how you can arrange this within the next few days, so please check back for updates.
Priority group 6 – ‘at risk’: People aged 16 or over who are classed as ‘at risk’ are being contacted from this week by their local GP-led vaccination service to have their vaccinations. If you are unsure as to whether you are ‘at risk’, a good indicator is that such people are usually called by their GP practice every year to have their free flu jab. See more information about the ‘at risk’ group. Note that those in the ‘at risk’ group are not currently able to book online or by phone and must await their invitation.
Priority group 6 – informal carers: Informal carers are also eligible in group 6, and are currently being identified and invited for vaccination in stages. Find out more about vaccines for carers.
When booking online, please enter your email address or mobile number to receive confirmation of your appointment. Please also note your reference number, as you must have this should you need to change your appointment.
If you are in any of the first four priority groups and haven’t got an appointment for your vaccination, you do not need to wait to be contacted to book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The first four priority groups for COVID-19 vaccinations are:
You can book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments online or by dialling 119. Someone else can do this on your behalf if you need assistance.
We are working to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated when it is their turn. There are now more than 30 GP-led local vaccination services delivering the vaccine in the community. Three large vaccination centres are open across Sussex at the Brighton Centre, The Welcome Building in Eastbourne and at Crawley Hospital.
Three community pharmacy-led vaccination services are now live across Sussex with more planned for the coming weeks and months. Seven hospital hubs are currently focussing on vaccinating health and care staff. Housebound patients (those who are already receiving GP services in their homes), who cannot attend a vaccination site, are being contacted and visited by a service that takes the vaccine into people’s own homes.
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. Some GP groups are offering the vaccine from one of their surgeries, others are using appropriate facilities elsewhere in the community.
You will be told where to go when an appointment is made for you. If you need help getting there, such as transport, this will be discussed with you at that time.
All sites where COVID-19 vaccinations are provided have clear procedures in place to help keep you safe from COVID-19. This includes regular cleaning, social distancing, hand sanitising and the wearing of face masks.
You will be contacted by the first NHS service that is able to offer you a vaccination. This may be your GP, another local NHS service or by letter from the NHS national booking service.
You do not need to wait to be contacted to book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if any of the following apply:
You may be contacted by telephone, by letter, or by SMS/text message.
If you miss a call to offer you the vaccine, please do not worry. If you are aged 50 or over or have previously received a letter saying you are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable) or are a frontline health or social care worker, you can book an appointment for your vaccination and do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS.
You can book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments online or by dialling 119. Someone else can do this on your behalf if you need assistance.
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 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.
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.
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.
We are making sure that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely. For care home residents and those who can’t leave home, this will involve community teams coming to them to give the vaccine.
Family members or friends are still permitted to take people to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment during lockdown. 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.
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, clinical experts have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should wait at least four weeks after onset of symptoms or four weeks from the first Covid-19 positive test result if you do not have any symptoms.
We are using a range of communications materials to communicate about the vaccine and working with community groups and our partners and local people to raise awareness.
We are also introducing Vaccination Champions, who are members of the public who have volunteered to raise awareness of the vaccine and share trusted facts and information about the vaccine and vaccination.
Yes. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and so is within the rules wherever you live.
You can also ask someone to take you to your appointment. 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.
No, the Covid-19 vaccination is only available through the NHS to eligible groups and it is a free vaccination.
If you are offered or see the vaccine being advertised anywhere as something you can pay for, it will be a scam and you should not follow it up.
We are aware that some people are receiving suspicious calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination.
Coronavirus vaccines are only available on the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.
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 phone 101.
At the current time, the way in which you booked your first dose appointment will determine whether you have your second vaccination appointment booked or not.
People who have booked through the national booking service to arrange an appointment at a vaccination centre (Brighton Centre, Welcome House in Eastbourne, Crawley Hospital or Westgate in Chichester) or a pharmacy led service, will have arranged their second appointment at the same time.
If you had your first dose at your GP led local vaccination service, appointments were not made at the time of booking your first and you will be contacted when you are approaching the 12 week mark after your first jab to book your second. Please do not contact your GP practice to ask for your appointment.
National guidance is that you should receive your second jab in the place where you received your first vaccination.
Coronavirus is the greatest health challenge in NHS history, taking loved ones from us and disrupting every part of our lives. Our hospitals have cared for hundreds of thousands of 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 meet strict international standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
So far, over ten million people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK alone 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 and they will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca are very effective vaccines. They have been approved because they passed the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it will be highly effective in offering protection against COVID‑19.
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 protection for a longer period or a greater effect on transmission of the virus.
The NHS will only offer vaccines that have been approved by the MHRA as offering high levels of safety and effectiveness.
No. 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.
We know that the vaccines currently being given by the NHS appear to work well against the strains of COVID-19 that are dominant in the UK. That is why medical experts encourage eligible people to get their vaccine as soon as they are offered it, because it will prevent the risk of illness from the strains that pose an immediate threat.
For strains that are dominant in other countries or are yet to emerge, the current vaccines may be less effective at preventing infection, but some evidence suggests they could still be just as effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death. It may be that updated vaccines or booster jabs are developed in the future. In the meantime, the clinical advice remains that people should get the vaccine to protect against the strains that pose the greatest risk right now.
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. 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.
It is likely to be some time until we have sufficient data to provide a clear picture of how long the protective effect of vaccination lasts. Plans are already being considered for ensuring that people can receive ongoing protection.
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 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.
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:
Yes. People do not require an NHS number or GP registration to receive a vaccination and should never be denied one on this basis. Local leaders have been asked to take action to ensure this is not the case.
If someone does not have an NHS number but is within an eligible group, services have been advised to vaccinate now, record locally via a paper system, and ensure vaccination is formally documented later.
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.”
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 are 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 trials have looked at 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 any vaccine that is approved will be effective for the wider population in the UK.
Ongoing studies continue to look at how to get even more benefit from the different vaccines, for example, which vaccine is most effective in which individuals and is a particular sized dose is more effective. A number of vaccines remain in development, and these may offer benefits over and above those of the first approved vaccines.
All this ongoing research is vitally important to ensure we get the best protection from the vaccines. Research and vaccine development did 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.
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: 0800 433 4545 (open 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays)
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