Communicating the potential benefits and harms of the Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine, provided by the University of Cambridge:
How will patients be invited for a vaccination?
When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter.
What vaccine for COVID-19 is currently available?
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is available. This vaccine is shown to be safe and offer up to 95% efficacy and has been given regulatory approval by the MHRA.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine is 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.
The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said this vaccine is safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
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 it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population
Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?
Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said this vaccine is very safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said this vaccine is safe and highly effective, and
we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
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 it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.
The MHRA recommend certain groups do not take the vaccine, including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with certain types of allergies.
Are there any groups that shouldn’t have the vaccine?
There are MHRA recommendations for some groups to not have the vaccine – these are
precautionary due to a lack of data, rather than because there is an expected issue.
How long does the vaccine take to become effective?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your suffering from COVID-19 disease. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?
If you’re a frontline worker in the NHS, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you and may help to protect your family and those you care for.
The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.
Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?
Yes, the Pfizer vaccine does not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products.
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.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
This is all included in the information published by the MHRA, and Public Health England will also be publishing more resources for patients and professionals. People can be assured the NHS will ensure that they have all the necessary information on those vaccines that are approved by the MHRA before they attend for their vaccination.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?
Yes. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has made this decision, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process.
What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?
The phase three study of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 95%, with consistent efficacy across age, gender and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 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.
I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?
Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.
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. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Very common side effects include:
As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.
More information on possible side effects can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirusvaccine/
How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?
You are required to have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of vaccine.
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. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.
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.
Will the vaccine work with the new strain?
There is no evidence currently that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccine we have, so
we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the
characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccine. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus,
often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines
Why are healthcare workers amongst the first groups to receive the vaccine?
The JCVI have put patient-facing health and social care staff into a priority group because of
their heightened risk of exposure to the virus. Healthcare workers are not the top priority
though and with limited vaccine, employers are being asked to offer the vaccine to the most
at risk healthcare workers first.
The NHS is experienced in vaccinating hundreds of thousands of staff quickly and safely –
we do it every year for the flu vaccine – and all local NHS employers will be responsible for
ensuring that 100% of eligible staff have the opportunity to take it up over the coming weeks
Should people who have already had 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.
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 for the Pfizer vaccine involved over 43,000 participants and managed to recruit people very quickly as a global effort meant thousands of people were willing to volunteer