Covid-19 vaccine

Covid-19 vaccine

Covid-19 vaccine

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe, effective and give you the best protection against coronavirus.

The NHS is currently offering COVID-19 vaccines to people most at risk from coronavirus. Guidance on when people will be invited to book an appointment for a vaccine follows the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

In England, the vaccines are being offered in some hospitals, including Barts Health NHS Trust and pharmacies, at local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres, including The NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre, Newham at ExCeL London.

Pfizer vaccine: questions and answers

How does the Pfizer vaccine protect against Covid-19?

The Pfizer vaccine can be given to adults and adolescents from 16 years.

The vaccine triggers the body’s natural production of antibodies and stimulates immune cells to protect against Covid-19.

How is the Pfizer vaccine given?

The Pfizer vaccine is given via injection into a muscle in your upper arm. You will receive 2 injections, given at least 21 days apart. You will be invited to your second appointment during your first injection.

What should I tell my doctor or nurse before receiving the vaccine?

You should let your vaccinator know if any of the following applies to you, before you have your vaccine:

  • If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction or breathing problems after any other vaccine injection or after you were given the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the past.
  • If you are suffering from a severe illness with a high fever however, a mild fever or upper airway infection, like a cold, are not reasons to delay vaccination.
  • If you have a weakened immune system, such as due to HIV infection, or are on a medicine that affects your immune system
  • If you have a bleeding problem, bruise easily or use a medicine to inhibit blood clotting
  • If you are using, have recently used or might use any other medicines or have recently received any other vaccine.

Who should not receive the Pfizer vaccine?

If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any of the active substances or ingredients in the vaccine, you must not have it. Your nurse or doctor will go through all the safety checks with you, but please ask if you are concerned.

Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchy skin rash, shortness of breath and swelling of the face or tongue. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately or go to the nearest hospital right away if you have an allergic reaction.

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, think you may be pregnant or are planning to have a baby, ask your doctor or pharmacist, doctor or nurse for advice before you receive this vaccine.

Can I drive or use machinery after receiving my vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine has no or negligible influence on the ability to drive and use machines. However, some of the side effects mentioned above may temporarily affect your ability to drive or use machines. If you feel unwell, you should not undertake these tasks.

Visit the GOV.uk website for more information about the Pfizer vaccine.

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: questions and answers

How does the AstraZeneca vaccine protect against Covid-19?

Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca stimulates the body’s natural defences (immune system). It causes the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the virus. This will help to protect you against Covid-19 in the future. None of the ingredients in this vaccine can cause Covid -19.

How is the AstraZeneca vaccine given?

The vaccine is injected into a muscle (usually in the upper arm).

You will receive two injections, and you will be told when you need to return for your second injection.

The second injection can be given between 4 and 12 weeks after the first injection.

It is important that you attend your second vaccination appointment. If you do forget to return at your scheduled time please ask your doctor or nurse for advice.

What should I tell my doctor or nurse before receiving the vaccine?

You should let your vaccinator know if any of the following applies to you, before you have your vaccine:

  • If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after any other vaccine injection
  • If you currently have a severe infection with a high temperature (over 38°C). However, a mild fever or infection, like a cold, are not reasons to delay vaccination
  • If you have a problem with bleeding or bruising, or if you are taking a blood thinning medicine (anticoagulant)
  • If your immune system does not work properly (immunodeficiency) or you are taking medicines that weaken the immune system (such as high-dose corticosteroids, immunosuppressants or cancer medicines).
  • If you are taking, have recently taken or might take, any other medicines or vaccines.

What if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, think you may be pregnant, or are planning to have a baby, tell your pharmacist, doctor or nurse. They can answer any questions you may have and discuss whether you can be given the vaccine.

Can I drive and use machinery after receving the vaccine?

The AstraZeneca vaccine has no known effect on the ability to drive and use machines. However, some of the side effects listed above may impact your ability to do these tasks safely - if you feel unwell please do not drive or use machinery.

Who should not have the vaccine?

If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any of the active substances or ingredients in the vaccine, you must not have it. Your nurse or doctor will go through all the safety checks with you, but please ask if you are concerned.

Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchy skin rash, shortness of breath and swelling of the face or tongue. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately or go to the nearest hospital right away if you have an allergic reaction.

Visit the GOV.uk website for more information about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines

Like all medicines, Covid-19 vaccines can cause side effects, however not everyone who receives the vaccine will experience them. In clinical trials, side effects following the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines were found to be mostly mild to moderate and resolved within a few days.

The most common side effects for both vaccines are as follows:

  • tiredness
  • aches and pains of the muscles and/ or joints,
  • headache and/or fever
  • tenderness at injection site.

Pain and fever can be treated with paracetamol, if proving troublesome.

Staff who are experiencing a fever should not come in to work. Staff can return to work when feeling better if:

  • Fever and symptoms have resolved with 1-2 days.

AND

  • They are not experiencing any respiratory symptoms (for example a cough) or a change in taste and smell.

AND

  • A negative lateral flow test on the day returning to work.

Protection from Covid-19 begins 2 weeks after your first vaccine dose, and both vaccines are highly effective in protecting you against the virus. However, there is a small possibility that you will develop Covid-19 after having the vaccine, especially during the first few days following your inital vaccination.

A full list of side effects for the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines can be found on the GOV.uk website.

If you notice any side effects please talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. If you are concerned about a side effect it can be reported directly via the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site

By reporting side effects, you can help provide more information on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines.

Got questions?

We understand that you may have questions about the Covid-19 vaccines. That's why we've pulled together lots of information about these vaccines and testemonials from people who've had one. 

Yunus in coversation with Dr Anna and Dr Theresa

Dr Anna Riddell and Dr Teresa Cutino-Moguel answer our head of chaplaincy, Yunus Dudhwala's questions about the Covid-19 vaccine.

 

Covid-19 vaccine - it's your choice

Dr Vanessa Apea, a sexual health and HIV doctor at Barts Health discusses the importance of taking part in clinical trials as part of the black, asian and minority ethnic community. Make an informed decision that is entirely your choice.

 

More information

  • The East London Health & Care Partnership website has a number of resources explaining Covid-19 vaccines in various languages