Covid 19 vaccine FAQs


This page brings together answers to the questions we are getting about the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccination programme. Simply click on the categories below.

Alternatively, you can access the frequently asked questions through our new interactive chatbot feature.

If you require the frequently asked questions in a different format, click on the Browsealoud icon at the top of the webpage. Browsealoud can read aloud and translate text in multiple languages, as well as other features to improve accessibility.

Additionally, Dr Anna Riddell, a Consultant Virologist at Barts Health NHS Trust, answers some common questions about COVID-19 vaccines to provide people with accurate information so people can make an informed choice regarding vaccination.

I’m a UK student, how do I get vaccinated?

Students will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine when their age or clinical risk group become eligible. If you receive an invitation, please do act on it as soon as possible. Millions of people are already benefiting from protection from the virus.

Students can receive their second dose in a different location to their first dose, this includes if you have received your first dose in Wales, Scotland or NI. If you are registered with any GP practice and become eligible, you can book your appointments online through the National Booking Service at a location that is convenient to you, regardless of where you are registered.

You may also receive an invitation from your GP through text or a phone call. You may sometimes get a letter at the address that is registered with your GP practice. You do not need to wait to be contacted to book via the National Booking Service if you are eligible.

If you aren’t registered with a GP you can find out how to register here nhs.uk/register  or you can request to book Covid-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.

Are international students eligible for the vaccine?

Anybody in the UK is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. International students in England can receive the Covid-19 vaccine for free when their age or clinical risk group becomes eligible.

International students can approach their local GP practice, saying they would like to register for the purposes of receiving the vaccine. You can find out how to register here nhs.uk/register.

If a person has received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose provided that they are eligible.

If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, the student should contact a GP to ensure they receive an appropriate vaccine for their second dose.

Does the vaccine affect periods/menstruation?

We’re aware of reports from some women who have seen a change to their period cycle or symptoms after having their vaccination.

This statement from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/rcog-responds-to-reports-that-covid-19-vaccine-affects-periods/) acknowledges there have been anecdotal accounts from people who say they've experienced changes to their menstrual cycle after having the COVID-19 vaccine and supports more data collection to understand why this might be the case.

Dr Pat O’Brien, Vice President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "It’s important to remember these side effects are mild and should not deter women from having the vaccine when they are called. Many women will experience a temporary change in their periods from time to time during their lives.”

If you have any concerns about your period you should contact your GP. There nothing in the vaccine that can affect the fertility of women and there is no need to avoid pregnancy after COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccine also does not affect your likelihood of having a miscarriage.

Q: I'm awaiting my second dose of the AstraZeneca jab. Should I still have it?

Health experts have said that for almost everyone, irrespective of their age, if they had a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and not suffered a serious reaction then they should have their second dose of the same vaccine. This is the safest and quickest way to protect yourself from any complications associated with coronavirus. The MHRA is also clear that almost everyone is safe to have their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The only exceptions would be individuals with a history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, acquired or hereditary thrombophilia, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia or antiphospholipid syndrome or patients who have experienced major venous and arterial thrombosis occurring with thrombocytopenia following their first vaccination.

It's important when having any vaccine to balance the risks and the benefits, but if you have had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and have not had a serious reaction the advice is to go ahead and have the second dose as this is your best protection from serious complications from Covid-19.

Q: I’m under 40 will I definitely get Pfizer when I attend for my vaccination?  

If you’re under 40, you can book your vaccine on the national booking system and you’ll only be shown appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. If you contact one of the local call centres just make sure you state your age and we can book you into the correct session. 

Q: Have second doses been moved forward? What do I need to do?

Second doses are really important to give you long lasting protection from Covid-19. Second doses are being brought forward for people aged 50 and over, or are clinically vulnerable, from 12 weeks to 8 weeks after the first dose. Nobody needs to contact the NHS.

If you are aged 50 or over, or are clinically vulnerable, and have a second vaccination booked for before 25 May then your appointment will stay at the same time and you don’t need to do anything. If your second dose is either booked or scheduled to be booked after then, you will be contacted with a new appointment or contacted and instructed to book a new appointment through the national booking system.

Those aged under 50 will continue to get their second dose at 12 weeks.

Q: What do I do if I had a first dose of the vaccine abroad? 

If a person received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose provided they meet UK eligibility criteria (as per the JCVI guidance). If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, a similar alternative can be offered. As all of the current vaccines are based on spike protein, the vaccine course can be completed with any of the locally available vaccines. The full guidance is available here.

Q: I had my first vaccine. How do I book an appointment for my second vaccine?

  • If you booked on the national booking system; then you should already have your second dose appointment. 
  • If you walked into a large scale site (Excel, Westfield, Liberty Shopping Centre, Dagenham or Chingford) then you can book your second dose online on the national booking system
  • If you went to a primary care site, your GP may book you in when you have your first dose or you may be asked to wait and be contacted. You should be contacted to book your second dose before 77 days after your first dose. If you don’t hear anything about booking your second dose by the end of week 11, contact the centre where you had your first dose or your GP for advice. The second dose must be given at the same place as the first.

To download a PDF detailing how and when to book your second dose if you live in Tower Hamlets, Newham or Waltham Forest please click here.

To download a PDF detailing how and when to book your second dose if you live in Barking and Dagenham, Havering or Redbridge please click here.

Q: What is the advice for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding?

The JCVI has issued new advice confirming that all pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine based on their age and clinical risk group. The decision comes after real-world data from the US showed about 90,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated without any safety concerns. The advice has been welcomed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.  

There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines in relation to pregnancy.  

The advice, published in Public Health England’s Green Book, a clinical professional guide for vaccinators in the UK, still advises that pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their clinician, including the latest evidence on safety and which vaccines they should receive. 

The Green Book states (for pregnancy) that: 

“There is no known risk associated with giving inactivated, recombinant viral or bacterial vaccines or toxoids during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding (Kroger et al., 2013). Since inactivated vaccines cannot replicate, they cannot cause infection in either the mother or the fetus.” 

and 

“Although clinical trials on the use of Covid-19 vaccines during pregnancy are not advanced, the available data do not indicate any harm to pregnancy. JCVI has therefore advised that women who are pregnant should be offered vaccination at the same time as non-pregnant women, based on their age and clinical risk group.” 

And (for breastfeeding): 

There is no known risk associated with being given a non-live vaccine whilst breastfeeding. JCVI advises that breastfeeding women may be offered any suitable Covid-19 vaccine. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for immunisation against COVID-19; at the same time, women should be informed about the absence of full safety data for the vaccine in breastfeeding. 

Q: What is the second dose guidance for pregnant women? 

PHE’s Green Book advises that ‘Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age, because of more extensive experience of their use in pregnancy. Pregnant women who commenced vaccination with AstraZeneca, however, are advised to complete with the same vaccine’. ‘If a woman finds out she is pregnant after she has started a course of vaccine, she may complete vaccination during pregnancy using the same vaccine product (unless contra-indicated). Alternatively, vaccination should be offered as soon as possible after pregnancy.’

Q. What can I expect after my Covid vaccination?

This PHE leaflet contains information for people who just had their Covid-19 vaccination.

 

Q: Who are you currently calling to be vaccinated?

As of 27 May 2021 we are vaccinating those aged 30 and above and some at risk younger people. You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS to book your vaccination at a large vaccination centre or a pharmacy using the national booking system

  • If you are 30 or over book your vaccine using the national booking system or by calling 119
  • If you are 50 or over or are clinically extremely vulnerable you can use the national booking system, call 119 or contact your GP
  • If you are 16-29 and clinically vulnerable or you are a carer please contact your GP to arrange your vaccination
  • If you are pregnant it is advisable you have the Pfizer vaccine when eligible please contact your GP to arrange this
  • If you live or work in a care home and haven't been vaccinated please speak to your manager
  • If you are a frontline health and social care worker, please book on the national booking system, call 119, contact your manager or book using the staff booking system applicable in your organisation

Click here to book your Covid-19 vaccination appointment on the national booking system

Q: How is the NHS delivering vaccines?  

The NHS is offering vaccinations in hospital hubs, primarily for staff and visitors to hospitals, local vaccination sites, large scale vaccination centres and community and pharmacy sites. Additionally GPs are providing mobile vaccinations where required such as in care homes and for people who are housebound. A map of all sites in north east London can be found here.

Q: Can I get a vaccine privately?

No. Vaccinations are only available through 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.

Q: How do I know if an offer is genuine or a scam?

Vaccinations are only available through the NHS. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, or bills.

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, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.

Q: Where can I find the latest data and stats on the vaccination programme?

Vaccination data is being provided by the government and is available as part of this healthcare dashboard that is updated weekly. Or there is NHS data available. 

Q: How can I support the vaccination programme?

If you wish to apply for roles in the vaccination programme please visit our recruitment pages here.

Q: How many people have been vaccinated?  

Figures on the number of people vaccinated are published weekly and can be found here.

Q: Is there a supply shortage?

Since the start of the vaccination programme supply has gone up and down and we have run clinics and delivered vaccinations according to availability. As of 24 May 2021, over 839,650 people in North East London have already been vaccinated with a first dose and we remain on track to offer a vaccination to everyone over the age of 18 by the end of July. 

Q: Where can I get vaccinated in north east London?

 All of the sites offering vaccines across north east London can be found on this map.  Additionally, NHS England publishes a map and full list of vaccination sites that are open across the country that is updated every Friday. This includes pharmacies, hospital hubs, primary care facilities and large-scale vaccination centres.

Q: What is being done to encourage vaccine uptake in Black, Asian, minority ethnic and other disproportionately affected communities/groups?

The NHS is working collaboratively with community and borough partners to ensure vaccine messages reach our local diverse communities and are tailored to meet their needs. We are arranging local pop up vaccination centres in the community and engaging with community and faith-led groups, charities and other voluntary organisations to maximise the opportunity for local people to have their questions answered and feel confident about having the vaccine.

Q: How long will it take to vaccinate all priority groups?

We are currently working to vaccinate everyone aged 18 or over in the UK with at least one dose by the end of July.

Q: I wasn’t happy with my experience of getting my vaccine. What can I do?

We are aware that some people have not had a positive experience due to a variety of issues in setting up and managing these centres at pace and without precedent. As we set up and deliver more vaccination centres we are adapting and working to improve based on feedback received and lessons learnt. Please do bear with our staff delivering a vaccination programme like no other. 

We do read all the comments made. We are continually reviewing the locations we have and the processes we use. We are opening new centres, both large scale and in pharmacies to support the process. However we can't respond to every comment made at this time. 

Q: Will the vaccination cards be able to be used as proof of vaccination when travelling abroad, or to prove to an employer that you’ve been vaccinated?

The vaccination card issued when you have your jab acts only as a reminder to have second dose and records the vaccine batch number for tracing purposes. No government guidance has been issued about how to demonstrate proof of vaccination for travel or other purposes at this stage. 

Q: Who chose the centres and based on what criteria?

The NHS local and regionally proposed sites based on a combination of geographical alignment to local health systems to ensure coverage, and the likelihood of the sites being ready in a timely fashion. In some cases, selections were made on population density within the region, and in other cases there was a consideration given to the number of existing vaccination services currently open and expected to open shortly in that area. There will be more vaccination centres in future. This delivers a fair and equitable distribution of sites across the country.

Q: Why aren’t vaccination centres running clinics every day?

Due to logistics and volume of vaccine delivery and booking of clinics across vaccination sites, clinics are booked based on availability of vaccine, local resource to manage clinics and being able to book people into the clinics. This means that not all clinics run all the time. If you are using the national booking system, you can select a location, date and time that is convenient for you. If you are booking with your GP, please book at a time that best meets your needs. Please make sure you have a booked appointment before attending a vaccination centre.

Q: How are you raising awareness of the vaccine among the NHS workforce?

The Cabinet Office has developed a campaign to raise awareness of the vaccine with the public and health and social care staff. This includes specific engagement with our diverse communities and workforce. We are also working together across north east London and at individual organisation level to address this.

Q: Who will the vaccinators be? Are they qualified?

The vaccinators will either be existing NHS staff or those recruited by the NHS specifically for the programme. New vaccinators will be required to complete comprehensive training and will be assessed in person and closely supervised to ensure their and patients’ safety. Importantly new vaccinators will be supervised and assessed by senior clinicians to ensure both their safety and of course the safety of the people they are vaccinating – just like any other vaccinator.   

Q. Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe?

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.  As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once they have been authorised and are being used in the wider population.    

Q: What vaccines for Covid-19 are currently available?

Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 and Moderna vaccines are now being used in the UK. All vaccines are safe, effective and have been given regulatory approval by the MHRA. More information about the vaccines is on the NHS website here.

Q: Can I choose which vaccine I want?

No. The vaccines have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy and protect against serious illness. Only where a specific vaccine is contraindicated will a different vaccine be offered. This may mean having to travel to a different vaccination clinic to access a particular vaccine. 

Q: Is the AstraZeneca vaccine linked to increased blood clots?

On 7 April 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the UK Government on immunisation, released a statement on use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which you can read in full here: JCVI statement on use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine: 7 April 2021 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

JCVI has weighed the relative balance of benefits and risks and advise that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals 40 years of age and over and those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease. 

Health experts have said that for almost everyone, irrespective of their age, if they had a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and not suffered a serious reaction then they should have their second dose of the same vaccine.

JCVI Statement: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca/information-for-healthcare-professionals-on-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

MHRA Update: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mhra-issues-new-advice-concluding-a-possible-link-between-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-and-extremely-rare-unlikely-to-occur-blood-clots

PHE Information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-and-blood-clotting

Q: I'm aged 40 or under and have had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, what should I do?

To date, there are no reports of the extremely rare thrombosis/thrombocytopenia events following receipt of the second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. All those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should continue to be offered a second dose of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, irrespective of age. The second dose will be important for longer lasting protection against Covid-19.

Q: How were vaccines developed so quickly? 

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 trial were delivered to overlap instead of run sequentially which sped up the clinical process;
  2. There was a rolling assessment of data packages 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;
  3. Clinical trials managed to recruit people very quickly as a global effort meant thousands of people were willing to volunteer.

Q: 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. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose.

Very common side effects include:

  • Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • General aches, or mild flu like symptoms
  • As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.

The mild flu-like symptoms, including headache, chills and fever described above remain the most common side effects of any Covid-19 vaccine. These generally appear within a few hours and resolve within a day or two.

Rare side effects that require medical review include:

  • new onset of severe headache, which is getting worse and does not respond to simple painkillers
  • an unusual headache which seems worse when lying down or bending over, or may be accompanied by blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, difficulty with speech, weakness, drowsiness or seizures
  • new unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain

If you experience any of the above symptoms more than four days and within 28 days of coronavirus vaccination please seek urgent medical advice.

Does the vaccine affect periods/menstruation?

We’re aware of reports from some women who have seen a change to their period cycle or symptoms after having their vaccination.

This statement from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/rcog-responds-to-reports-that-covid-19-vaccine-affects-periods/) acknowledges there have been anecdotal accounts from people who say they've experienced changes to their menstrual cycle after having the COVID-19 vaccine and supports more data collection to understand why this might be the case.

Dr Pat O’Brien, Vice President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "It’s important to remember these side effects are mild and should not deter women from having the vaccine when they are called. Many women will experience a temporary change in their periods from time to time during their lives.”

If you have any concerns about your period you should contact your GP. There nothing in the vaccine that can affect the fertility of women and there is no need to avoid pregnancy after COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccine also does not affect your likelihood of having a miscarriage.

Q: What are the long term side effects of the vaccine?

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.

Q: What is in the vaccines? Are they vegan/vegetarian friendly? Do they include any parts from foetal or animal origin?

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:

Q. Will the vaccines work with the new strains of Covid-19?

Researchers have been looking at the effectiveness of the vaccines against new strains and results indicate that the vaccines are still effective against mutations and variants. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.

Q: How long will my vaccine be effective for? 

We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer. This will be constantly monitored. 

Q: What is the difference between the vaccines that have been approved?

The vaccines that have been approved for use are classed as highly effective, even from just the first dose.

After one dose, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been estimated to offer 89% effectiveness from two weeks after it is given. The Oxford/AstraZeneca has been estimated to offer 74% effectiveness from two weeks after it is given. Clinical trials showed the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective after two doses.

It is important to note that all vaccines approved for use in the UK are highly effective and offer the best protection against coronavirus.

Q: How much does each vaccine cost the NHS?

The Government is securing vaccine stocks so they will not directly cost the NHS anything. 

Q: Were the vaccines tested on high risk groups? 

The vaccine trial participants included a range of those from various ages, immune-compromised and those with underlying health conditions. Details of trial participants are published online.

Q: What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for people of all ethnicities?

All vaccines approved for use in the UK have been trialled on people from a variety of different ethnic groups. There is no evidence either of the vaccines will work differently in different ethnic groups. 

  • Out of the participants in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial, 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan native.
  • Out of the participants in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial, the 75.5% of recipients were White,10.1% were Black and 3.5% were Asian.
  • Out of the participants in the Moderna vaccine trial, 19.7% were Hispanic or Latino, and 9.7% were African American.

Further information on the vaccine trial can be found here:

Q: How do the vaccines work? 

Most vaccines work by triggering an immune response to the virus, even though there is no live virus present. As there is no whole or live virus involved, the vaccine cannot cause disease.

Q: Where can I find out more about the vaccines?

Q: How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?

The three vaccines available require two doses to provide the highest protection. Please make sure you book and attend for your second dose around 12 weeks after your first dose. 

Q: I'm awaiting my second dose of the AstraZeneca jab. Should I still have it?

Health experts have said that for almost everyone, irrespective of their age, if they had a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and not suffered a serious reaction then they should have their second dose of the same vaccine. This is the safest and quickest way to protect yourself from any complications associated with coronavirus. The MHRA is also clear that almost everyone is safe to have their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The only exceptions would be individuals with a history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, acquired or hereditary thrombophilia, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia or antiphospholipid syndrome or patients who have experienced major venous and arterial thrombosis occurring with thrombocytopenia following their first vaccination.

It's important when having any vaccine to balance the risks and the benefits, but if you have had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and have not had a serious reaction the advice is to go ahead and have the second dose as this is your best protection from serious complications from Covid-19.

Q: I’m under 40 will I definitely get Pfizer when I attend for my vaccination?  

If you’re under 40, you can book your vaccine on the national booking system and you’ll only be shown appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. If you contact one of the local call centres just make sure you state your age and we can book you into the correct session. 

Q. Have second doses been moved forward? What do I need to do?

Second doses are really important to give you long lasting protection from Covid-19. Second doses are being brought forward for people aged 50 and over, or are clinically vulnerable, from 12 weeks to 8 weeks after the first dose. Nobody needs to contact the NHS.

If you are aged 50 or over, or are clinically vulnerable, and have a second vaccination booked for before 25 May then your appointment will stay at the same time and you don’t need to do anything. If your second dose is either booked or scheduled to be booked after then, you will be contacted with a new appointment or contacted and instructed to book a new appointment through the national booking system.

Those aged under 50 will continue to get their second dose at 12 weeks.

Q: I’m under 29 and eligible for a first vaccine (for instance I am particularly vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 according to the JCVI, or I am a carer), how do I get vaccinated?

The JCVI have advised that anyone under the age of 40 should be offered an alternative vaccine to Astra Zeneca to minimise any potential risk. Local primary care networks are working with system partners to book anyone under 29 who is eligible for the vaccine into clinics offering Pfizer BioNTech. If you are in this category please speak to your GP to arrange your vaccination. As clinics are being set up you may need to leave your details and wait to be contacted once clinics have been booked.

Q: What information will I need to book my appointment at a vaccination centre?

You will need to provide your name, date of birth, postcode and ideally your NHS number, which will be included on your booking letter. If you have lost your letter or don’t have your NHS number – you can find it here, you may need to provide the name and postcode/postcode of the GP practice you are registered with – in this circumstance you should use the phone booking service.

Q: Can people book without their NHS number or if they aren’t registered with a GP?

While the NHS will write to 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 through the programme.

It does however 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 that both doses of the vaccine have been had. Details of how to register with a GP are available here.  

Q: How are housebound people going to be vaccinated?

If you are housebound and registered with a GP your GP practice will contact you to arrange a suitable time to vaccinate you at home or you can ring your GP. If you are housebound and you are not registered with a GP please use this link to find out how to register with a GP. Registering will mean that we can better care for you when you need it.

I’m a UK student, how do I get vaccinated?

Students will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine when their age or clinical risk group become eligible. If you receive an invitation, please do act on it as soon as possible. Millions of people are already benefiting from protection from the virus.

Students can receive their second dose in a different location to their first dose, this includes if you have received your first dose in Wales, Scotland or NI. If you are registered with any GP practice and become eligible, you can book your appointments online through the National Booking Service at a location that is convenient to you, regardless of where you are registered.

You may also receive an invitation from your GP through text or a phone call. You may sometimes get a letter at the address that is registered with your GP practice. You do not need to wait to be contacted to book via the National Booking Service if you are eligible.

If you aren’t registered with a GP you can find out how to register here nhs.uk/register  or you can request to book Covid-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.

Are international students eligible for the vaccine?

Anybody in the UK is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. International students in England can receive the Covid-19 vaccine for free when their age or clinical risk group becomes eligible.

International students can approach their local GP practice, saying they would like to register for the purposes of receiving the vaccine. You can find out how to register here nhs.uk/register.

If a person has received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose provided that they are eligible.

If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, the student should contact a GP to ensure they receive an appropriate vaccine for their second dose.

Q: Are there special circumstances that will allow me to have the vaccine early? 

The NHS is not considering any special requests in relation to accessing the vaccine. The JCVI have determined the priority groups for the vaccine and as we deliver the programme we will follow national guidance on who receives the vaccine and when.

Q: What happens if I can’t or don’t want to have the vaccine when I’m invited?

We are working to make sure that everyone has access to the vaccine and anyone who wants it will be given plenty of opportunity to access the vaccine either when first invited or at a later date. Over the coming months as the vaccine becomes more widely available people will be able to book a vaccine appointment at a variety of locations once their cohort becomes eligible. It has to be a personal choice, but if you delay having the vaccine when it is offered, you are delaying the protection it gives you.

Q: Can any member of the public be vaccinated? Can they just walk in to a service? 

Those who are eligible should book using the national booking system or via their GP. There may be some walk-in services available, but only those eligible to have the vaccine will be able to access these services at certain times. 

Q: I received an invitation letter but was not able to attend for a vaccination. Have I missed out?

If you are not able to attend when first invited this will be logged and you will be contacted again to invite you to a future clinic or you can simply follow the guidance on the letter or text at a later date.

Q: I’ve received an invitation letter but someone I live with who is the same age hasn’t yet. Can we get vaccinated together?

Anyone of an age we are currently vaccinating can book online on the national booking system. If you want to go to a primary care site, then when one of you is contacted by your GP surgery, discuss the possibility of booking both of you in.

Q: What if people can’t get to the vaccination centre?

People who are housebound will be contacted by their GP services about alternative ways to get vaccinated. People can also wait until more locations closer to where they live become available. The NHS will follow up with people that haven’t booked their appointment, as a reminder.

Q: What are the operating hours of the national telephone booking system?

The national telephone booking service (dial 119) for vaccination centres is open 16 hours a day (from 7am until 11pm), seven days a week. People are also able to book online 24/7.

Q: Does the national phone line service work for people who don’t understand English well or are deaf?

The 119 phone line has interpreters and a BSL facility available on request to help you book your appointments.

Q. What can I expect after my Covid vaccination?

This PHE leaflet contains information for people who just had their COVID-19 vaccination.

Q: I had my first vaccine. How do I book an appointment for my second vaccine?

  • If you booked on the national booking system; then you should already have your second dose appointment. 
  • If you walked into a large scale site (Excel, Westfield, Liberty Shopping Centre, Dagenham or Chingford) then you can book your second dose online on the national booking system
  • If you went to a primary care site, your GP may book you in when you have your first dose or you may be asked to wait and be contacted. You should be contacted to book your second dose before 77 days after your first dose. If you don’t hear anything about booking your second dose by the end of week 11, contact the centre where you had your first dose or your GP for advice. The second dose must be given at the same place as the first.

To download a PDF detailing how and when to book your second dose if you live in Tower Hamlets, Newham or Waltham Forest please click here.

To download a PDF detailing how and when to book your second dose if you live in Barking and Dagenham, Havering or Redbridge please click here.

Q: Can I go to a different location to have my second vaccine?

It is important that you return to the same place you had your first vaccination as second dose supplies will be provided to match first dose supplies. This means that your second vaccination will be distributed to the place you had your first dose. It also means that we can allocate you with the correct vaccine. In exceptional circumstances, for example if you have moved or your health or personal circumstances have changed, we will try to rearrange your booking at another site or time. However, we are only able to do this within the North East London area and subject to availability of vaccine.  

Q: Can I have a different vaccine for my second dose?

In exceptional circumstances where individuals cannot access the same vaccine for their second dose, or if the first product received is unknown, it is reasonable to be offered one dose of the locally available product to complete the schedule. In these circumstances, as the vaccines are based on the spike protein, it is likely the second dose will help to boost the response to the first dose. For this reason, until additional information becomes available, further doses would not then be required. The full guidance is available here.

Q: What do I do if I had a first dose of the vaccine abroad? 

If a person received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine overseas that is also available in the UK, they should receive the same vaccine for their second dose provided they meet UK eligibility criteria (as per the JCVI guidance). If the vaccine they received for their first dose is not available in the UK, a similar alternative can be offered.  The full guidance is available here.

Q: How will I get my second vaccine dose if my first one was at Forest Road or Oliver Road Polyclinic?

You will be texted or phoned 10 or 11 weeks after your first jab (we will try a few times), so please don't contact the NHS before then. 

When you are contacted you will be able to book into a session at the new Walthamstow Library site to get the same vaccine as your first dose. If you have any questions or need support, you can phone 020 8496 3000 to discuss arrangements. 

If you do not receive a text message or phone call inviting you to book your second dose by the end of week 11 (77 days) from your first dose please phone 020 8496 3000. Please do not phone your GP surgery. 

Q: How will I get my second vaccine dose if my first one was at QMUL or Newby Place?

You will be texted or phoned 10 or 11 weeks after your first vaccine (we will try a few times), so please don't contact the NHS before then. When you are contacted you will be able to book into a session at the new Art Pavilion site at Mile End to get the same vaccine as your first dose. 

Q: I cannot book my second dose vaccine until 13 or 14 weeks after my first dose. What should I do? 

Having a second dose after 12 weeks is fine. Please don't worry. If you aren't able to book in week 12 (for instance if you are ill or if the site you originally attended is full on the days you can attend), just book as soon as is convenient after the 12 weeks. 

Q: Can I go back to work after having my vaccine?

Yes, you should be able to work as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving. More guidance is here.

However, you will need to continue to follow the guidance in your workplace, including wearing the correct personal protective equipment and taking part in any screening programmes.

Q: Once I’ve been vaccinated do I have to follow the guidance or can I start meeting with friends and family?

It is vital that everyone follows the national guidance. While the vaccine will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill it does not give 100% protection and we do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus, so it is still important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you. National guidance will continue to be reviewed by the Government and updated when appropriate. Please find the latest guidance here.

Q: I’ve heard I can show my Covid-19 vaccination status on the NHS App?

Yes, the NHS App (not NHS track and trace) can show your vaccinations status. The Covid-19 vaccination status is available to people who live in England and are registered with a GP. This allows you to show others that you’ve had a full course of the Covid-19 vaccine when travelling abroad to some countries or territories. For full details on how to demonstrate your status and how to access this, please visit the gov.uk website here.

Q: I’ve been staying with relatives during the pandemic and can’t access my GP practice for the vaccine. How can I get a vaccine near where I am staying?

If you are staying away from your usual place of residence temporarily you can register as a temporary patient at a practice near where you are staying. This will allow you to have your primary care medical needs taken care of while living away from home. The local practice where you register should be able to redirect you to a local PCN vaccination provider. You can find out more about temporary registration here.

Q. I live with an immunosuppressed adult. Can I get a vaccine?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems, such as those with blood cancer, HIV or those on immunosuppressive treatment including chemotherapy.  If you fall into this category you can contact your GP or you can book an appointment using the national booking system. If you are under 38, please contact your GP to arrange to arrange your vaccination. 

Q: I’m from overseas. Will having the vaccine impact my immigration status in the UK?

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 take place for overseas visitors related to testing, treatment or vaccination for Covid-19. For more information read the Covid-19: migrant health guide.  

As an overseas visitor in England you can register and consult with a GP without charge. You do not need proof of address or immigration status. Details of how to register with a GP are available here.  

Q: Can I have the vaccine during Ramadan/does the vaccine 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. Further information is available here: https://britishima.org/operation-vaccination/hub/statements/#FAST

Q: Are the Covid-19 vaccines suitable for Catholics?

A: Yes, the Pope has said that it's "morally acceptable" to receive a vaccination for Covid-19. You can read the full announcement here.

Q: Can having the Covid-19 vaccine give me Covid?

You cannot catch Covid-19 from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught Covid and not develop the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment.

Q: My family are saying they won’t get vaccinated, what should I do?

People are advised to make their own choice based on the information and facts from NHS and government organisations. Although not compulsory, the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective and it gives you the best protection against coronavirus.For more information on the Covid-19 safety and effectiveness, see the NHS.uk website.

Q: If I have an allergy should I have the vaccine? 

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 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.

Further advice from the MHRA for people with allergies can be found here.

Q: What is the advice for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding?

The JCVI has issued advice confirming that all pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine based on their age and clinical risk group. The decision comes after real-world data from the US showed about 90,000 pregnant women had been vaccinated without any safety concerns. The advice has been welcomed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 

There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines in relation to pregnancy. 

The advice, published in Public Health England’s Green Book, a clinical professional guide for vaccinators in the UK, still advises that pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their clinician, including the latest evidence on safety and which vaccines they should receive.

The Green Book states (for pregnancy) that:

“There is no known risk associated with giving inactivated, recombinant viral or bacterial vaccines or toxoids during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding (Kroger et al., 2013). Since inactivated vaccines cannot replicate, they cannot cause infection in either the mother or the fetus.”

and

“Although clinical trials on the use of Covid-19 vaccines during pregnancy are not advanced, the available data do not indicate any harm to pregnancy. JCVI has therefore advised that women who are pregnant should be offered vaccination at the same time as non-pregnant women, based on their age and clinical risk group.”

And (for breastfeeding):

“There is no known risk associated with being given a non-live vaccine whilst breastfeeding. JCVI advises that breastfeeding women may be offered any suitable COVID-19 vaccine. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for immunisation against Covid-19; at the same time, women should be informed about the absence of full safety data for the vaccine in breastfeeding.”

Q: What is the second dose guidance for pregnant women? 

PHE’s Green Book advises that ‘Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age, because of more extensive experience of their use in pregnancy. Pregnant women who commenced vaccination with AstraZeneca, however, are advised to complete with the same vaccine’. ‘If a woman finds out she is pregnant after she has started a course of vaccine, she may complete vaccination during pregnancy using the same vaccine product (unless contra-indicated). Alternatively, vaccination should be offered as soon as possible after pregnancy.’

Q: I am wanting to become pregnant. Should I have the vaccine?         

There is no advice to avoid pregnancy after Covid-19 vaccination. 

This new NHS England document provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions around the Covid-19 vaccine and fertility and pregnancy. It includes up to date answers to questions on fertility for women and men, for those having fertility treatment and questions on having the vaccine while pregnant and after pregnancy. 

Q: Can people who have had recurrent miscarriages have the vaccine?

Yes. There is no reason to postpone having your Covid-19 vaccine as it does not affect your likelihood of having a miscarriage.

Q: Can I have the vaccine whilst undergoing IVF?

Yes you can. You may wish to consider the timing of having a Covid-19 vaccine during your fertility treatment, taking into account that some people may get mild side effects such as feeling tired or feeling a bit achy or sick in the few days after vaccination that they do not want to have during treatment. Your medical team will be able to advise you about the best time for your situation.

Q: Should people who have already had Covid-19 get vaccinated?

Yes, they should get vaccinated when their priority group is called forward. Having the vaccine is safe and effective and at present, it is unclear if previous infection with Covid-19 results in long-term immunity. Therefore, when you are invited for your vaccination, you should attend even if you have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past or have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies. If you currently have symptoms or are self-isolating to stop the spread of the virus please do not attend a vaccination clinic. Generally you should wait for around 28 days after the onset of Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test (this can be reduced in certain circumstances).

Q: Should people who are suffering from ‘Long Covid’ get vaccinated?

Yes, if they are in a priority group identified by JCVI. The MHRA 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, including those who have mild residual symptoms. Where people are suffering significant ongoing complications from Covid they should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine now with a clinician.

Q: If I’m shielding should I get the vaccine?

It’s vital that everyone eligible gets vaccinated and this is true for those who are the most vulnerable including people who are shielding. People who are shielding should take the necessary precautions by maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask and washing their hands regularly while continuing to access healthcare and treatment as necessary, including by getting the vaccine when invited. Your local NHS will ensure that you can receive the vaccine as safely as possible, as well as any care and support needed. All sites where vaccinations are being provided are following social distancing and infection control procedures. Current guidance for people identified as clinically extremely vulnerable is available here. It is important that even after being vaccinated you continue to follow this shielding advice until guidance changes.

Q: 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. But you should have the vaccines at least a week apart.

Q: 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.

Q: Can I still pass on the virus if I have had the vaccine?

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection. However we do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So it is important to follow the current guidance to protect those around you, and to keep wearing a mask and socially distancing. 

Q: I’m healthy, do I need to get vaccinated? / is the vaccine compulsory?

Even if you are healthy you should get vaccinated. Although the Covid-19 vaccine is not compulsory, it gives you the best protection against coronavirus.

Q: I work in a school/early years setting – am I eligible to have the vaccine?

Education workers are not being prioritised for the vaccine based on their occupation. An aged based approach is the most effective way to protect the most vulnerable in society. School staff will only be eligible for the vaccine when they meet the criteria of age and/or health conditions. Staff working in special schools who are supporting children with the most complex healthcare needs can access the vaccine Covid-19 vaccine.

Q: Why aren’t specific ethnic groups being prioritised?

There is clear evidence that certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups have higher rates of infection, and higher rates of serious disease and mortality. The reasons are multiple and complex.

There is no strong evidence that ethnicity by itself (or genetics) is the sole explanation for observed differences in rates of severe illness and deaths. What is clear is that certain health conditions are associated with increased risk of serious disease, and these health conditions are often overrepresented in certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

Prioritisation of people with underlying health conditions will also provide for greater vaccination of those communities who are disproportionately affected by such health conditions.

Tailored local implementation to promote good vaccine coverage in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups will be the most important factor within a vaccine programme in reducing health inequalities in these groups.

The NHS will provide advice and information at every possible opportunity, including working closely with people across our diverse communities, to support those receiving a vaccine and to anyone who has questions about the vaccination process.

Throughout the pandemic increasing attention has been given to reducing health inequalities and we have invested more than £4 million into research into Covid-19 and ethnic disparities so that we can go further.

Q. Will you be vaccinating/prioritising homeless people?

We are prioritising vaccinating people who experts have agreed will benefit the most. We will work with councils to work out the best way to ensure all eligible people, including homeless and those without a NHS number, are offered the vaccine as soon as possible within the guidance.

Q: I have very limited mobility and am extremely vulnerable and shielding. I’m worried how far I will have to go for my vaccine. Where will my vaccination take place?

If you have concerns about accessing the vaccine you discuss this with your GP surgery and explain about your mobility to discuss a solution that best meets your needs. We are committed to ensuring that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely.

Q: I am a frontline health and care worker and haven't had a vaccine, what should I do?

If you are a frontline member of staff across NHS, independent and private providers, live or work in a care home, you should be able to book your vaccine on the national booking system from w/c 19 April 2021.

Q: I am a resident / member of staff in care home for older people and haven't been contacted about a vaccine. What should I do?

Contact the care home manager to ask for a vaccine.

Q: Is vaccination mandatory, and what happens if health and social care staff don’t want the jab?

The Covid-19 vaccine is not currently compulsory, however, local health and social care employers will be working hard to ensure staff are able to get vaccinated, and that any concerns that staff have are answered. We are confident that most staff will protect themselves and their patients by getting the vaccine. 

Q: Can the vaccine alter your genetic material?

There is no evidence to suggest that individual genetic material will undergo an alteration after receiving the vaccine. The vaccine will not alter human DNA.

Q: Does the vaccine or any of the Covid-19 tests contain a microchip to track me?

No. This is not something the NHS would do; a pet microchip is around 1cm long – impossible to put in a vaccine needle. 

Q: Can the vaccines cause infertility?

There is nothing in the vaccine that can affect the fertility of women or men.

The RCOG and the RCM respond to misinformation around Covid-19 vaccine and fertility

Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has said: “We want to reassure women that 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. There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility. Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated have gone on to have fertility problems.”

Dr Aruna Ramineni, consultant gynaecologist and lead for fertility at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, has developed a video explaining that there is no evidence of the vaccine having any effect on fertility.

Q: Does the Covid vaccine contain alcohol? 

The AstraZeneca vaccine does contain alcohol (ethanol) but at 0.002mg per dose this is much less than found in a slice of bread or a banana for example. A statement from the British Islamic Medical Association supports this.


Updated: 10/06/2021