Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine
The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus. The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.
It's being given to:
- people aged 80 and over
- some people aged 70 and over
- some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers.
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm.
It's given as 2 doses. You will have the 2nd dose 3 to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
So far, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance
- if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people
COVID-19 vaccine 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.
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.
NHS England (21.01.21). Coronavirus Vaccine [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
Covid-19 easy-read resources:
Below a video produced by NHS England Learning Disability and Autism Programme which provides information about vaccines for people with a learning disability and their carers.