Last updated 22/01/2021
After clean water, vaccines are the most effective Public Health intervention ever and have saved countless lives around the world over the past centuries.
Several COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, and there are now currently two available on the NHS that have been approved and tested to ensure they’re safe and effective. FAQs on the Vaccine can be accessed on the East London Health and Care Partnership website.
Staff at Bart's Health NHS Trust have answered your questions (in 12 different languages) in a series of videos about what's in the vaccine, how safe it is and why you should get it.
For the latest information from the NHS, you can visit the NHS COVID-19 information page.
You can book your vaccination appointments online if any of the following apply:
- you are aged 65 or over
- you have previously received a letter saying you are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- you are a frontline health or social care worker
You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or a pharmacy that provides COVID-19 vaccinations. You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS.
Wait to be contacted
If you don't fall into the above groups, the NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine. It's important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
Letters are being sent out every week – you might not get your letter straight away but you will not be missed off.
Our Director of Public Health has produced a video answering people’s questions about the vaccine roll-out, which you can see below.
Here is a walkthrough of what to expect when you go to get your vaccine.
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from COVID-19.
In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time.
It's being given to:
- people aged 80 and over
- some people aged 70 and over
- some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
You also need to be registered with a GP surgery in England. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.
The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
In summary, the priority cohorts cover the top 99% of those most likely to be severely effected by COVID-19.
There's no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can be routinely offered the vaccine.
The JCVI has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you're pregnant and:
- are at high risk of getting COVID-19 because of where you work
- have a health condition that means you're at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19
You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you're breastfeeding.
Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine with you.
You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
The vaccines do not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products or material of foetal or animal origin. A detailed review of the vaccines and their ingredients have been provided by the MHRA and can be found at the following links:
- For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here.
- For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here.
The British Islamic Medical Association have produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community which can be found here.
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm.
It's given as two doses. You will have the 2nd dose three to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose.
If you've been sent a letter you can book your vaccination appointments online.
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, millions 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.
To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from COVID-19. But you need to have both doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance
- if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people