Common vaccine frequently asked questions

How was the vaccine developed so quickly?

Medicines, including vaccines, are highly regulated – and that is no different for the approved COVID-19 vaccine.

  1. The different phases of the clinical trial were delivered to overlap instead of running sequentially which sped up the clinical process;
  2. 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;
  3. Clinical trials managed to recruit people very quickly as a global effort meant thousands of people were willing to volunteer.

What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?

  • 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.

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?

There is no material of foetal or animal origin, including eggs, in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

Can the vaccine alter your genetic material?

There is no evidence to suggest that individual genetic material will undergo an alteration after receiving the vaccine.

Are there any known or anticipated side effects?

These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use. For these vaccines, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the tens of thousands of people involved in trials. Very common side effects include:

  • Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • General aches, or mild flu like symptoms
  • Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection.
  • You can take the normal dose of paracetamol (follow the advice in the packaging) and rest to help you feel better. Do not exceed the normal dose.

How will you monitor safety?

As will all vaccinations and medicines, patient safety is the NHS number one priority. Public Health England have robust systems in place to monitor surveillance and will be following incident reporting protocols in the usual way.

What about the allergic reactions that have been reported?

These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.

Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them. A second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.

Everybody will also be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions, and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just like with any other vaccine.

How do I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The easiest and quickest way for you to get the COVID19 vaccine is through a GP.

If you are registered with a GP: make sure your contact details (or the details of someone who usually supports you) are up to date. Wait to be contacted.

If you are not registered or have been refused: register using the NHS website or ask a support worker for help.

You do not need an address or ID to register with a GP. Your immigration status does not matter.

I don’t know my NHS number, can I still get the vaccine.?

You do not need an address or ID to register with a GP. Your immigration status does not matter.