FAQs: the Covid-19 vaccine

FAQs on the various vaccines for Covid-19 (Updated 1 Mar 2021)

This page is about the Covid-19 vaccine. For more information living with the virus now, see FAQS: Living with Covid-19. For more on the virus itself including symptoms, tests etc, see FAQs Covid-19 (the virus)

A vaccine will considerably reduce your risk of developing Covid-19 and perhaps of passing the virus on. Before any vaccine is made available all the data needs to be evaluated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Vaccine roll-out began on a very small scale in the UK in December 2020 and has continued into 2021. The government says that having an effective vaccine is the best way to protect the most vulnerable, saving tens of thousands of lives.

What vaccines do we have ?

A number have been developed worldwide and the UK is now rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford/Astra Zeneca and the Moderna vaccine. All three have passed the MHRA's strict quality, safety, and effectiveness tests. The Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine , which the Uk helped fund, is far cheaper (AZ say they are not selling at a profit) and easier to store. The UK government has secured access to over 400 million doses of vaccine - far more than the Uk actually needs. 

The vaccine is given in two doses, the second dose up to 12 weeks after the first. Currently the thinking to is prioritise first jabs for many rather than two jabs for the few. 

The government say: 'It may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.'

Maximum protection (for you) occurs a few days after the second doses. But you'll still have to follow social distancing and other guidelines as it's possible to pass the virus on even if you have been vaccinated against Covid-19 yourself.

The vaccination programme will build up steadily and gradually be extended to more and more people.

When will I get it?

The government's plan is that, in order of priority, the vaccine will go to:

PHASE 1

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers 
  • All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers 
  • All those 75 years of age and over 
  • All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals 
  • All those 65 years of age and over. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality 
  • All those 60 years of age and over 
  • All those 55 years of age and over 
  • All those 50 years of age and over.

PHASE 2 (from March 2021)

  • All those aged 40 to 49 years
  • All those aged 30 to 39 years
  • All those aged 18 to 29 years

Whether or not you are in one of these groups, please do not contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, the NHS will contact you. The plan is that most people will get a letter from their GP or the national booking system including all the information they need, including their NHS number. When you are contacted, please attend your booked appointments.

Where will I get it?

There are three ways the vaccine will be delivered: 

  • Hospital Hubs - NHS providers vaccinating staff onsite. 
  • Local Vaccination Services – likely to include GP practices, local authority sourced buildings or other local facilities, and potentially roving teams if vaccines are transportable in this way.  
  • Vaccination Centres - Large scale centres such as sports and conference venues set up for high volumes of people. 
Should I have it?

Definitely. The majority of men say they will. Given that at any given age, we're twice as likely to die of Covid-19 as women, it's a bit of a no-brainer.

Indeed, the official government body on vaccines - the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation - is explicitly encouraging men to take up the offer as promptly as possible. (Men have been highlighted alongside people from a BAME community, people with a BMI over 30 and people from poorer neighbourhgoods as being at particular risk.)

It is true that the development this vaccine has beaten all records. But compared to previous vaccines, more people (pretty much everyone in the world of vaccine research) and far more money have been available. Vaccine trials go through three phases. Usually they're done one after the other. This time they ran alongside each other. All told, the Pfizer vaccine clinical trial size was around 45,000 people, much the same as for research into any vaccine.

Vaccines have virtually eliminated serious and deadly diseases like diphtheria, small pox, polio, rubella, tetanus, chicken pox, measles, mumps and many strains of flu. Serious reactions are very, very rare.

Yes, there's a nasty old needle (1 in 4 of us suffer from Aichmophobia - fear of needles) but it's got to be worth it to get the herd immunity needed to beat the virus.  It’s only a little prick and over before you realise. Now where have you heard that before?

There were also no serious safety concerns reported in the trials. 

I have an allergy.

The Anaphylaxis Campaign, the UK charity for people at risk from severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis have pulled together some information and links.

I have had Covid-19.

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 do I find out more about Covid-19?

Our information page is #staysafe

You can check the following for more specific advice for your country:

For health information, check your country's NHS site.

Date published 14/12/20
Date of last review 01/03/21
Date of next review 15/03/21

References

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.

Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.