The NHS is continuing to vaccinate patients against coronavirus during the biggest immunisation programme in history. We have produced the following to help with some of the frequently asked questions that have been coming through. If you have a question to add to our FAQs please get in touch with us.
Who can get the vaccine?
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published its detailed advice here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-30-december-2020.
In line with this guidance, those eligible for the vaccine are now:
- people aged 40 and over
- people who will turn 40 before 1 July 2021
- people who are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
- people with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
- people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus
- people with a learning disability
If you are in one of the eligible groups and haven’t received your vaccine yet, it isn’t too late to come forward. You can now book your vaccination appointment at nhs.uk/covidvaccination, or by calling 119. If you prefer, you can also wait to be contacted by a local GP-led service.
More detailed information about the eligible groups is available on the NHS website.
The vaccine will be offered more widely as soon as possible. You can also find out more about why you are being asked to wait.
How will I be invited for my vaccine?
When it is the right time people will be contacted to make their appointments. For most people they will receive a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number. Some services are currently also phoning and texting patients to invite them in.
Residents will be invited to have a vaccination in one of the following ways:
- Using a local GP service: GP practices are working together across the city to vaccinate as many people as possible. Residents may be contacted by a different surgery to the one they usually go to.
- Local hospital services: Patients may be contacted to have the vaccination as an inpatient or outpatient.
- At a vaccination centre: These are now available. If an eligible person lives within 30 to 45 minutes of a vaccination centre, and haven’t already been vaccinated, they may have received a letter asking them to book an appointment through the national booking service online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. If they can’t access the NHS website, they can call 119 free. Alternatively they can wait to be contacted by their GP.
- At a local pharmacy: Some pharmacies are providing the vaccination on an appointment basis. Individuals can choose to book an appointment at a pharmacy once they have received their invitation letter
Find out more about how you will be contacted on the NHS website.
I am in one of the eligible groups for the vaccine and am worried as I haven’t been contacted yet – what can I do?
We understand that many people are very keen to be vaccinated as soon as possible, and we are continuing to work our way through the priority groups, as identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Invites to those in the eligible groups are being sent out regularly, and the NHS has been following up directly with those we haven’t heard from yet, as well as going out to housebound patients.
You can support your local NHS by:
- Making sure you are registered with a GP practice
- Ensuring your GP practice has up-to-date contact details for you – especially a mobile phone number if you have one. This makes it quicker and easier for us to make contact. This information can be updated online through the GP practice website.
- Continuing to follow the government guidelines to keep yourselves and others safe by complying with lockdown rules, washing your hands, covering your face, and giving other people space when you are out. This is really important even once you’ve had the vaccine.
I’ve received a letter but someone I live with who is the same age hasn’t yet. Can we get vaccinated together?
The NHS is inviting eligible people in a phased basis as supplies of the vaccine allow. It is important that you wait for your letter from the NHS, and you will not be able to book without one.
If you have received a letter and live with someone who is also eligible but has not received a letter, it is likely that theirs will follow shortly. If you like you can wait and book an appointment at the same time.
How will I be invited for the second dose of my vaccination?
The COVID-19 vaccination is given as two doses. You will have the second dose 11 to 12 weeks after having the first dose.
If you have had your first dose and have not yet been offered an appointment for your second dose, you will be contacted with an appointment for your second vaccination in due course. You will be contacted by the team you received your first dose of the vaccine from. If you have chosen to be vaccinated in a vaccination centre, it may be possible to book both the first and second vaccinations at the same time when you book online.
Why has the timeframe between first and second doses of vaccinations been increased?
The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed a longer timeframe between first and second doses so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection after two weeks.
This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.
Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.
I have received a letter with a link to book my vaccination but there are no locations nearby to book. What should I do?
If you live within 30 to 45 minutes of a vaccination centre, and haven’t been vaccinated, you may have received a letter asking to book an appointment through the national booking service online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119 for free. If the vaccination centre nearest to you is not showing, please continue to check the site regularly as more slots will be added as they become available.
If you would prefer to be vaccinated by your local GP practice please wait to be contacted by your GP practice.
Do I need to know my NHS number to use the booking website/phone line?
No. It’s easier if you do have your NHS number, but if you don’t both the NHS booking website and phone line can still book appointments using other details, provided you are registered with a GP practice.
You can find your NHS number on the NHS App or at www.nhs.uk/find-nhs-number.
How can I make changes to my appointment?
If you have a vaccination appointment booked and need to change it, you will need to contact the team you booked the appointment through. This could be your GP practice team if you booked your appointment through your practice. If you are booked into a vaccination centre you will need to contact the national booking service by managing your appointment online or calling 119 if you can’t get online. Through the online service you can view and cancel your appointments.
Can I bring children to the vaccination centre?
You’re asked that, where possible, dependents are not brought to the centres. This is so that social distancing can be maintained and to enable the management of any emergency situations more appropriately in the unlikely event that they should arise.
I have lost the vaccination card from my appointment, what should I do?
You don’t need to do anything as your GP practice will have a record of your vaccination. If you do need any of the details that would have been on your card please contact your practice online, using the online services link on your GP practice website, wherever possible.
How long does the vaccine last? Should I still wear a face covering when I go shopping? Can I hug my grandchildren now?
The large increase in cases hospitals are seeing and the emergence of a new variant of the virus shows that we cannot let our guard down now, and even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow all the same guidance as everyone else to help protect others.
Once you have received your vaccination it is still really important that you continue to follow the current guidance to stay at home as much as possible, continue to follow social distancing, wear a face covering and regularly wash your hands.
Is the NHS confident the vaccines are 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 Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the official UK regulator, have said that both of these vaccines have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection, 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 NHS website has more information about safety of the vaccine.
Can I choose which vaccination I have?
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are now available. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection, and have been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The NHS has already vaccinated more than a million people in the highest priority groups and has planned extensively to ensure that we can continue to ramp up the programme based on the number of doses that are available to us. We are not able to confirm which vaccine you will receive as this is dependent on supply of the vaccine. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to transport and store, and is available in larger quantities, so it is likely that most people will receive this vaccine.
Please be assured that the vaccine you will be offered is available because it has been assessed and approved by experts as being safe and effective.
Can I have the vaccine if I’m pregnant?
There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can routinely be offered it.
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you’re pregnant and:
- at high risk of getting coronavirus because of where you work
- have a health condition that means you’re at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus.
If you are pregnant and are in one of the above groups, you should discuss the vaccination with a healthcare professional.
Find out more on the NHS website.
Are there any groups that shouldn’t have the vaccine?
People with history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccines should not be vaccinated.
Will vaccines still be provided/can I still attend my appointment during the national lockdown?
Yes. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and so is within the rules wherever you live. Vaccinations will continue as normal in all areas through the national lockdown and beyond. If you have booked or are offered an appointment, please attend it.
The place that you choose to have your vaccine will keep you safe from COVID-19 through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting and having social distancing in waiting areas. Please also wear a face covering to your appointment. You should also take the usual steps to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.
How many vaccinations have been given out across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight so far?
Figures on vaccination uptake for the UK will be published on a weekly basis on the Public Health England coronavirus data dashboard.
I’ve received an invitation for the vaccine which I am worried could be fraudulent, what should I do?
We are aware that some people are receiving suspicious calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination.
Coronavirus vaccines are only available on the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.
- The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
- The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
- The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
- The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.
If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.
Who can I talk to if I have any additional questions or feedback?
When the NHS contacts you for an appointment, please discuss your concerns at that point. If you have a question we haven’t answered here please get in touch or you can contact your local Patient Experience Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.