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FAQs

   

DOES THE AstraZeneca VACCINE CAUSE BLOOD CLOTS?

Following a rigorous scientific review of all the available data, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed that the available evidence does not suggest that blood clots in veins are caused by the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

This follows a detailed review of report cases as well as data from hospital admissions and GP records.

The MHRA’s advice remains that the benefits of the vaccines against coronavirus continue to outweigh any risks and that the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.

Announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-regulator-confirms-that-people-should-continue-to-receive-the-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

 

HOW IT WORKS / GETTING VACCINATED


Should I still get the AstraZeneca Vaccine following Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic authorities’ action to temporarily suspend the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine?
 

This is a precautionary measure by the Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic authorities. It has not been confirmed that the report of a blood clot was caused by the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine. People should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so.

You can read the following statements which contain further details


Can I chose which vaccine I have?
 
No. Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while. 
 
Can Muslims take Covid vaccines in Ramadan?
 
It is likely that Muslims will be invited to take the Covid vaccine (either 1st or 2nd dose) during Ramadan.  Taking the Covid-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate the fast during Ramadan as per the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars.

Can I turn up to one of the vaccination centres without an appointment?
 
No. People will be offered vaccinations in line with recommendations from the independent JCVI.  The NHS will contact people when it is their turn.  People will need an appointment to get their vaccine; most people will be invited by letter from their GP practice or the national programme. 
 
Can I still have the vaccine if I previously declined the appointment or was unwell on the day and did not attend?
 
If you have been invited to book an appointment but previously chose not to take the offer or were unwell and unable to attend you can still now access an appointment.  In this scenario you should contact your practice to inform them and to book an appointment. 
 
I live in Mossley, why have I been invited to an Oldham vaccination site?
 
The Covid Vaccination programme is being delivered by general practice through Primary Care Networks through an Enhanced Service to General Practice contracts.  Pennine Medical Centre is an Oldham CCG practice and forms part of Oldham East PCN.  The PCN, working together with their CCG, will have identified a site meeting the requirements of Covid risk assessment and with consideration of patient access from across the PCN footprint.
 
Oldham CCG and the Oldham East PCN will be able to advise further on the decision making process regarding sites.
 
What happens to spare doses at the end of the day?
 
We absolutely want to ensure optimal utilisation of the Covid vaccinations and so if doses of this precious resource are left over at the end of a planned schedule of vaccination appointments, our Primary Care Network (PCN) hubs are working with their practices to ensure these are filled by working equitably through the JCVI priority cohorts.
 
PCNs need to make agile and pragmatic decisions to bring in eligible health and social care workers and wider key workers who live or work in Tameside and Glossop who can be called at short notice to help support this further.
 
 
Should people who have already had Covid or are suffering from ‘Long 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, including those who have mild residual symptoms. Where people are suffering significant ongoing complications from Covid they should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine now with a clinician.
 
How soon after having COVID-19 infection can I receive the vaccine?
Individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infection in the preceding 4 weeks should postpone vaccination until:
 
  • clinical recovery and at least four weeks after onset of symptoms, or
  • four weeks from the first PCR positive specimen in those who are asymptomatic.

Do I need to leave a space between having the flu vaccine and having the Covid vaccine? 


It is not essential to leave time between the flu and Covid vaccine but it is recommended that there should be a gap of a week.
 
We would always encourage anyone who is eligible but not yet taken up their flu jab to do so as soon as possible. 
 
 

EFFICIENCY OF THE VACCINE

 
How long does it take for the vaccine to become effective?
 
The COVID-19 vaccination will significantly reduce the chance of you developing serious illness from coronavirus infection. While you will receive a significant level of protection after around 2 weeks of your first dose, you may not be fully protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
 
Is the vaccine effective against the new COVID-19 variant?
 
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 in detail now 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 ineffective.
 
Will I only need the vaccination once in my lifetime or will I need it every year?
 
At the moment we know that the vaccine provides good protection against developing disease from the virus. Unfortunately, we do not know how long this protection lasts for and research is ongoing to understand whether further doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be necessary in the future.
 
After I have received the vaccine, do I need to continue doing twice weekly Lateral Flow Tests?
 
Yes, please continue with twice weekly testing. You may not be fully protected until 7 days after the second dose, so it is important to continue with testing, social distancing and other precautions in the meantime. Even when you are fully vaccinated, there is a very small chance of developing COVID-19 infection, although it is likely to be mild and passing it on. Identifying infection remains important to help prevent spread of the disease.
 
Does alcohol consumption effect the vaccine efficiency?
 
There is currently no published scientific evidence of the effect of alcohol before and after vaccine on the immune response to COVID19 vaccination. However, it is well known that chronic heavy alcohol abuse is linked to immune system dysfunction which can lead to vulnerability to infections and suboptimal vaccine response for some vaccines, likely due to an interplay of several factors.
 
People who meet the eligibility criteria for vaccination and who drink heavily but cannot cut down on consumption, should not be deterred from vaccination. In fact, they should be encouraged to get vaccinated as they are likely to be particularly clinically vulnerable to catching COVID-19 and having severe infection, particularly if they have underlying alcohol associated liver disease and poorer immunity to infection. They will likely benefit from vaccination, as it is better they get some protection against COVID-19 rather than none at all.
 
 

SAFETY/SIDE EFFECTS/ALLERGIES

 
 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 safe and 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.
 
Are any of the vaccines safer than others?
 
Other vaccines are being developed and will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective. All vaccines that are approved will have met strict safety approval processes.
 
Are there any side effects?  

Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
 
  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick
 
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to. If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
 
What if I have allergies?
 
Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
 
You should not have the vaccine if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction to:
 
  • a previous vaccine
  • a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine
  • some medicines, household products or cosmetics
 
Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately
 
Are the vaccines vegan/vegetarian friendly?
 
Yes. Both the vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca) do not contain any components of animal origin.
 
All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.
 
For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-covid-19
 
For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

 
Can I have the vaccine if I have a bleeding disorder, e.g. haemophilia?
 
You must discuss with your haematologist whether it is appropriate for you to receive a 0.3ml intramuscular (IM) injection before booking. If you receive medication/treatment to reduce bleeding, for example treatment for haemophilia, vaccination can be scheduled shortly after you take the medication/treatment.
 
 

SECOND DOSES

 
Why is there a longer timeframe between the first and second doses?


To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advise that the second dose of both vaccines should be scheduled up to 12 weeks after the first.
 
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 (the Green Book states that short term protection from day 10 after the first Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination is very high and has been estimated to be around 89% between days 15 and 21). 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.
 
Will the second dose still be effective?
 
The UK Chief Medical Officers advice is that the second dose of the vaccine remains effective when given up to 12 weeks after the first dose, and should be given towards the end of this 12 week period.
 Please be reassured that there are no safety concerns in the new guidance, and it will not impact on how effective the vaccination is in protecting people from Covid-19 once the course is complete.
 
COVID-19 vaccination programme FAQs on second dose
 

PRIORITY GROUPS

 
Why aren’t BAME groups being prioritised?  

There is clear evidence that certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups have higher rates of infection, and higher rates of serious disease and mortality. The reasons are multiple and complex.  
 
There is no strong evidence that ethnicity by itself (or genetics) is the sole explanation for observed differences in rates of severe illness and deaths. What is clear is that certain health conditions are associated with increased risk of serious disease, and these health conditions are often overrepresented in certain Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.  
 
Prioritisation of people with underlying health conditions will also provide for greater vaccination of BAME communities who are disproportionately affected by such health conditions.  
 
Tailored local implementation to promote good vaccine coverage in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups will be the most important factor within a vaccine programme in reducing health inequalities in these groups. 
 
The NHS will provide advice and information at every possible opportunity, including working closely with BAME communities, to support those receiving a vaccine and to anyone who has questions about the vaccination process.
 
Throughout the pandemic increasing attention has been given to reducing health inequalities and we have invested more than £4 million into research into Covid-19 and ethnic disparities so that we can go further.
 
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 available up to now, employers have been asked to offer the vaccine to the most at risk healthcare workers first. With many more doses now expected over the coming weeks, employers will be widening this out and protecting staff as soon as possible.
 
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 and months.
 
How will healthcare workers get the vaccine?

The NHS will offer vaccinations using different models. For healthcare workers, most will get vaccinated either at their own work or at the local hospital – Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.
 
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (ICFT) is leading the vaccination programme for all health and care workers. You will be invited by the hospital according to the priority list, there is no need to register your staff onto a list.  
 
Frontline health and social care workers at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment, are considered of higher priority for vaccination than those at lower risk.
 
If you are a private and independent health and care worker, e.g. independent physio, podiatrist etc, you will need to self-identify and should contact the ICFT’s contact centre on 0161 331 6000.  Alternatively, contact NHS Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on: 0161 342 5500 or Tameside Council’s contact centre on: 0161 342 8355

 
If a household has a priority group member, such as an NHS frontline worker or vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?   

These decisions are for the JCVI. Their current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.  


Covid vaccination for cancer patients 
 
The Christie have agreed clear processes to identify 
  
  1. patients on treatment who should be classified as CEV and therefore receive the vaccine in category 4. Details will be uploaded to the National system and patients will be sent a letter with a copy to the GP. 
 
  1. patients who are delaying treatment to receive the COVID vaccine. GPs will be sent an urgent letter clearly stating whether the patient is delaying treatment to have one or both doses. This will state that patients delaying treatment for both doses should have the second dose at 3 or 4 weeks in line with guidance in the Green book 
  
Cancer patients should have their COVID vaccine when offered and not wait for a certain point in their treatment cycle. There are a very small number of patients, mostly with haematological cancers, who may need to delay having the vaccine. These patients are often in hospital and all are very closely monitored by their clinical teams and will be dealt with separately. 

 
 

THE VACCINE

 
What vaccine for COVID-19 is currently available?


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 MHRA.
 
The Government has in principle secured access to seven different vaccine candidates, across four
different vaccine types, totalling over 357 million doses. This includes:  
 
  • 40 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine 
  • 100m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • 17 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has been approved by the MHRA but is not expected to be delivered to the NHS until Spring.  
 
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; 
 
  • The different phases of the clinical trial were delivered to overlap instead of run sequentially which sped up the clinical process; 
  • 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; 
  • Clinical trials managed to recruit people very quickly as a global effort meant thousands of people were willing to volunteer. 
 
Were the trial participants reflective of a multi-ethnic population? 

The Public Assessment Reports contain all the scientific information about the trials and information on trial participants.
 
For the Pfizer trial, participants included 9.6% black/African, 26.1% Hispanic/Latino and 3.4% Asian.  
 
For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine 10.1% of trial recipients were Black and 3.5% Asian.
 
There is no evidence either of the vaccines will work differently in different ethnic groups. 
 
Were the vaccines tested on high risk groups? 

For both vaccines trial participants included a range of those from various ages, immune-compromised and those with underlying health conditions, and both found the efficacy of the vaccine translates through all the subgroups. 
 
Details of trial participants for both vaccines are published online.
 
For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-covid-19
 
For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca
 


COST


How much does each vaccine cost the NHS?

The Government is securing vaccine stocks so they will not directly cost the NHS anything. 


Can I get one privately?

No. Vaccinations are only available through 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.
 
  • 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.

 

PREGNANCY AND THE COVID-19 VACCINE


Can I have the vaccine safely if I am pregnant or planning to become pregnant?

There is limited experience with use of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women. Animal studies do not indicate direct or indirect harmful effects with respect to pregnancy, embryo/foetal development, giving birth, or post-natal development.  Administration of the vaccine should only be considered when the potential benefits outweigh any potential risks for the mother and foetus. There is insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. 
Guidance from PHE states that the evidence so far reviewed by the MHRA raises no concerns for safety in pregnancy. The USA has recently reported that over 20,000 pregnant women have received COVID-19 vaccinations. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in either the mother or the foetus. 
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recognised that the potential benefits of vaccination are particularly important for some pregnant women. This includes:
 
  • those who are at very high risk of catching the infection or
  • those with clinical conditions that put them at high risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19.
The vaccines cannot be administered to pregnant women under the National Protocol or a PGD.  For further advice, speak with your midwife or GP.
More information is available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) here.
 

If I am pregnant and don’t know, will the vaccine harm the baby?

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant.  If you do discover you are pregnant at the time of vaccination this should be reported to PHE to allow evidence of safety to be collected. Your obstetrician or GP can do this for you. Further information is available here.
 

Can the Pfizer vaccine cause infertility in women?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the vaccine could cause infertility in women. In addition, infertility is not known to occur as a result of natural COVID-19 disease, further demonstrating that immune responses to the virus, whether induced by infection or a vaccine, are not a cause of infertility.
Reports on social media have falsely asserted that the vaccine could cause infertility in women and there is concern that this misinformation may cause women to avoid vaccination to prevent COVID-19, which is a potentially serious and life-threatening disease.
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is a mRNA vaccine. It contains a small piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic material that instructs cells in the body to make the virus’s distinctive “spike” protein. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine uses adenovirus to deliver the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. After a person is vaccinated, their body produces copies of the spike protein, which does not cause disease, and triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2. Contrary to false reports on social media, this protein is not the same as any involved in development of the placenta.
You can read more about issues around fertility here.
 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe if I'm trying to conceive?

Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. Getting vaccinated before pregnancy will help prevent COVID-19 infection and its serious consequences.
 
When the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was first approved, because it was a new medicine and had not been tested in pregnancy, the precautionary advice was to avoid becoming pregnant for 2 months after vaccination.  The JCVI and MHRA have revised this advice.
 
             
If I get pregnant after the first dose, what do I do about the second dose?

If you receive a dose of the vaccine before finding out you are pregnant, or unintentionally while you are pregnant, you should be reassured that it will not affect the vaccine’s success and the available data does not indicate any evidence of harm to your baby.
 
You may complete vaccination during pregnancy if you are considered at high risk. Alternatively, vaccination can be offered as soon as possible after pregnancy. You can be referred to the obstetric service to help you decide whether to complete the vaccination course or to leave receiving the second dose until after completion of your pregnancy.
 

Is the vaccine safe for breastfeeding mothers?

There is no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding or on the breastfed infant. Despite this, COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant, and the benefits of breast-feeding are well known. Because of this, the JCVI has recommended that the vaccine can be received whilst breastfeeding. This is in line with recommendations in the US and from the World Health Organisation.
More information is available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) here.


 
 
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