AstraZeneca? Pfizer? What are these vaccines? What does this mean for my health? Don’t worry – in this article, we answer all of your FAQ’s, from the different vaccines, to immunity and much more! All the information in this article is supported by Bolton CVS and NHS Bolton and new evidence may have since been brought to light.
Why has the time between your first and second dose changed?
This has changed due to the rise in hospitalisation rates. To reduce the mounting pressure on the NHS, the government wants to provide as many people as possible with the first vaccination dose to provide protection and reduce the risk of being hospitalised.
Does the first dose make me immune to COVID-19?
No. You have up to 3 months of protection from COVID-19 after your first dose, but this evidence is continually changing. You can also still contract COVID-19 in this time; however, the effects will be less severe. Therefore, you must continue to wear face masks, wash your hands, and follow the government guidelines.
I’m not confident in the effectiveness of the vaccine because it’s being rolled out so quickly – is it safe?
Yes. Every vaccine that we use must meet specific criteria which are overseen by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and PHE (Public Health England), so they are completely safe. Unlike other vaccinations, there has been a lot more time, effort and funding put into the COVID-19 vaccine due to the number of deaths it has caused in such a short amount of time. Therefore, the turnaround time for this vaccine has been much shorter than many before it.
How long does the vaccine last?
Once you have received both doses of the covid-19 vaccine, there is no certainty on how long it lasts. This is why the MHRA and PHE continually monitor vaccines. This also applies to the vaccines for the flu to make sure that they are safe and effective.
How many types of vaccines are there?
There are currently two vaccines available to the UK: AstraZeneca and Pfizer. Both are being distributed. You will be told which vaccine you’re being given and if you have any questions, you can ask the member of staff providing the vaccine for more information. There is a third vaccine currently being tested and approved for use called Moderna.
Is the vaccine 100% effective?
No. In fact, no vaccine is 100% effective! Vaccinations aim to make sure your body is strong enough to fight off the disease with antigens so that you don’t end up in a vital condition or worse.
Will I spread COVID-19 once I’ve had both doses?
It has been hypothesised based on the current evidence that once you have had both doses, this stops you from spreading it to others. Until there is more evidence to support this, we must continue to social distance and follow the government guidelines.
What are the side effects?
The side effects are much the same as the flu jab. You may have an achy arm and feel a little bit unwell for a short period. This shouldn’t last longer than a week, and if you do feel worse, please call 111 or your GP.
Do I still need to wear a mask?
Yes! Similar to other vaccines, a large number of people in the community will need to get vaccinated before transmission drops enough to stop the use of masks.
Do I have to take the vaccine?
No, as this is a violation of your human rights. However, be aware that some places around the UK, Europe and beyond may require proof of vaccination for you to enter the country/place.
Why are so many vaccinations being thrown away?
We get a very short notice period for when we receive the vaccines, and these can expire within 48 hours. A lot of people that we contact to get their first dose aren’t available at the time when asked, and we cannot simply reschedule their appointment as we don’t know how many vaccinations we will receive each day/week. This means a lot of vaccines have to be thrown away. This is far from ideal; however, the NHS are doing their best to roll out the vaccination to everybody as best as possible.
Can carers attend appointments?
Yes. Carers can attend appointments for those who are vulnerable or elderly.
What if I need to use public transport to get my vaccine? Is this allowed?
Due to the vaccination centres being placed on specific sites, we appreciate the difficulty this causes in getting your vaccinations. We can’t simply provide your local GP with the vaccinations due to protocols. If you must take public transport, please follow the advice in wearing your mask and cleaning your hands. If you can, please see if someone can take you to your vaccination appointments.
Find out more on the official NHS website linked below.