Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others. Research has shown the vaccines help: reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 protect against COVID-19 variants The 1st dose should give you some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you’ve had it. But you need 2 doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection. There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it’s important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19. If you are visiting a walk-in clinic, no appointment is needed, just turn up to one of the below walk-in clinics. Please bring your NHS number if possible.
How do the vaccines work?
Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines teach your body to fight the virus.
The vaccines work by making a protein from the virus that is important for creating protection. The protein stimulates the immune system to make antibodies and cells to fight the infection.
The components of the vaccine leave the body within a few days. The vaccines will not alter your DNA or genetic material.
Is the vaccine suitable for my diet (e.g. vegetarian, halal)?
The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal or foetal products.
Leaders from Muslim, Hindu and Jewish faiths have all said that the vaccines are suitable for people of their religions and people shouldn’t hesitate to get them.
How long do the vaccines take to work?
Protection starts around seven days after your first dose. To get the maximum amount of protection, people need to have their second dose. Full protection takes effect around a week or two after the second dose.
The first dose should give you some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you’ve had it, but you need two doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it’s important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading the virus.
How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?
The vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at stopping people from becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. Latest evidence also suggests that they help to prevent the virus spreading. The most recent analysis by Public Health England found that the vaccines have prevented between 26,000 and 28,000 deaths in England alone and between 6.4 and 7.9 million infections.
Will the vaccines work with the new strains?
There is currently no evidence that the new strains will be resistant to the vaccines 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 vaccines. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.
Is one vaccine better than the other?
All vaccines have been shown to be safe and highly effective. No trials have been carried out to compare the vaccines: the important thing is that they will both protect you from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
2nd doses, 3rd doses & the booster programme
How many doses of the vaccine do I need and when?
Three of the vaccines (Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna) require two doses to give the maximum amount of protection. The second dose should be given between 8 and 12 weeks after your first dose of the vaccine.
In response to the rising number of cases of the Delta variant, second doses ao 8 weeks for all adults. This is to ensure everyone has the strongest possible protection from the Delta variant of the virus at the earliest opportunity possible and builds on the earlier JCVI recommendation that second doses for people at greatest risk from COVID-19 should be brought forward to 8 weeks.
Why do I need two vaccinations?
The evidence from the clinical trials showed that people build up better protection against COVID-19 symptoms when the vaccine is given in two, smaller doses, with an interval between them.
Evidence shows that the second dose not only increases your protection against Covid but gives you longer-lasting protection so it is very important that you have both doses. COVID-19 can make you very seriously ill and have long-term effects on your health so getting the maximum protection possible will give you the best chance of avoiding this. For example, having two doses has been shown to be over 90% effective in preventing hospitalisation.
How will I get my second vaccination?
If you had your first vaccination at your local GP centre, you will be contacted by your practice when it is time to have your second dose.
If you booked your first vaccination through the National Booking Service, you will have made your second appointment at the same time. If you need to check when this is or make any changes you can do this online or by calling 119.
If you had your first dose at a walk-in service, you can book your second appointment through the National Booking Service. This can be done from 24 hours after your first vaccination, once your record will have been updated.
Why are some people being offered a third dose of the vaccine?
The JCVI has recommended that people who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second COVID-19 vaccination should be offered a third dose. This is an extra ‘top-up’ dose in response to evidence showing that they may not have responded as well to the vaccine as others and will therefore have lower levels of protection against COVID-19. It includes people with leukaemia and advanced HIV and people who have had recent organ transplants.
Consultants have been asked to identify eligible patients and recommend when the best time would be for them to have their third dose. Patients will be contacted either by their consultant or GP to arrange their vaccination.