Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has estimated that 200 British people are receiving the COVID vaccine every minute and the aim is for everyone to be protected by Autumn.
Here we aim to answer some questions about the vaccine, starting with the most important: when could you expect to receive it?
Q1: When could I get vaccinated?
This will depend on where you fit within the 9 priority groups, as described below:
January to mid-February - Circa 15 million people
1. Care home residents and care home workers
2. People aged over 80. Frontline health and social care workers
3. People aged 75-79
4. People aged 70-74. Clinically vulnerable citizens
End of February to April - Circa 17 million people
5. People aged 65-69
6. People aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions
7. People aged 60-64
8. People aged 55-59
9. People aged 50-54
By Autumn - 21 million people
The rest of the adult population
NOTE: dates approximate. Some people may fall into more than one category.
Source: UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan, Figures based on NHSEI data for England, extrapolated to UK
Q2: Where could I be vaccinated?
There are various places you may receive the vaccination, and is sometimes based on the group you’re in.
- Hospital hubs (NHS staff and older patients)
- GP surgeries
- Care homes (care home workers and older residents)
- To cope with the huge numbers, mass-vaccination hubs continue to be set up. So far these include Olympic Office Centre in Wembley, London; Etihad Tennis Centre, Manchester; and Millennium Point, Birmingham.
- As the rollout plan expands, more places are being added, such as village halls, theatres, football stadiums and mosques
Q3: How will I be invited for my test?
You'll be invited to book an appointment to get a vaccine as soon as it's your turn, by phone or letter. Your appointment request will never ask you to pay and will never ask for you to provide your bank account details. If you are over 70 in England and have not yet been invited for your jab, you are being encouraged to contact the NHS online at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/ or by calling 119 free of change between 7am and 11pm.
Q4: Which vaccine could I get?
All vaccines have shown to be many times more effective than first predicted – by above 90 per cent in some instances. Therefore, there are no guidelines in place to specify who gets which vaccine – they are all very effective. However, you should get two doses of the same vaccine, although clinical trials mixing different types of vaccines are planned.
The first vaccine to be approved for use in the UK was administered at the start of December: Pfizer-BioNTech. Vaccinations increased significantly in January following the approval of a second vaccine, from Oxford University and AstraZeneca. A third vaccine, from Moderna, has also been approved. Many other companies, such as Novavax, Valneva and Janssen are also developing vaccines, with major trial results yet to be announced.
367 million doses of vaccines have been ordered by the government, which is more than enough for every adult in the UK to receive two doses.
Q5: How do the vaccines work?
Although all vaccines differ, they all use the same strategy to protect us from coronavirus: they fool our bodies into thinking we’ve been infected. This allows our system to build a memory of COVID-19, meaning it is better prepared to fight against it in future.
Q6: Why do I need two doses of the vaccine?
Two doses will give you the full benefit. The first dose helps the immune system create a response against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The second dose further boosts the immune response to ensure long-term protection.
Research shows that the vaccines are more than 50% effective 10 days after the first jab but this leaps to nearly 95% effectiveness several days after the second. The COVID-19 vaccine is not unique in this respect; other vaccines require two doses, including hepatitis B, HPV, and shingles.
Q7: Will I get any side effects?
No significant safety concerns have been reported so far, but no drug, including paracetamol, is 100 per cent safe from extremely rare allergic reactions. But please be reassured - a COVID-19 vaccine will only be approved for use on the general population once it has met robust standards on safety through extensive clinical trials.
Q8: Can I pay to get the vaccine quicker?
No. The vaccine is being rolled out in order of priority and it is not possible to buy it.
Q9: Is vaccination compulsory?
No – no vaccination in the UK is.
Q10: Are the vaccines halal?
Many leading Sharia scholars confirmed the vaccines are halal, and have described it as ‘our ethical duty to protect ourselves and others from harm’
Details correct at time of publish. Check government website for latest information and updates.