Non-urgent advice: What is COVID-19 or Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2. It was first identified in late 2019. It is very infectious and can lead to severe respiratory disease.
Many people who are infected may not have any symptoms or only have mild symptoms. These commonly start with cough, fever, headache and loss of taste or smell.
Some people will feel very tired, have aching muscles, sore throat, diarrhoea and vomiting, fever and confusion. A small number of people then go on to have severe disease which may require hospitalisation or admission to intensive care.
Overall fewer than 1 in 100 people who are infected will die from COVID-19, but in those over 75 years of age this rises to 1 in 10.
There is no cure for COVID-19 although some newly tested treatments do help to reduce the risk of complications.
Non-urgent advice: About the types of vaccine
In the UK, there are two types of COVID-19 vaccine to be used once they are approved. They both require two doses to provide the best protection.
Non-urgent advice: Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine – update
New guidance has been issued for the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
This follows further reviews by the independent regulator, the MHRA, and the Commission for Human Medicines, of a very small number of people in the UK who have developed a rare blood-clotting condition since having the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
The MHRA and Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations have emphasised that the risk of this condition is extremely small and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people. They have recommended that:
• Everyone who has had the AstraZeneca vaccine should still have a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, irrespective of age, unless they have had a blood clot or have an existing risk of thrombosis (blood clotting)
• People aged 30 and over or who have a health condition that puts them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease should still be offered the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. The benefits in protecting them against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition.
• People aged 18-29 who do not have a health condition that puts them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 disease will be offered an alternative Covid-19 vaccine where available. (This has been recommended as a precaution as people under 30 are at less risk from Covid-19 and not because they are considered to be at particular risk of developing the rare blood clot.)
• People under 30 can still choose to have the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine if this will mean they can be protected more quickly and they have been made aware of the guidance.
Please see the leaflet below that has been produced by Public Health England and the NHS to answer any questions you may have
• Leaflet on COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting.
Non-urgent advice: Who should have the COVID-19 vaccines?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), an independent expert group, has recommended that the NHS offers these vaccines first to those at highest risk of catching the infection and of suffering serious complications if they catch the infection.
This includes older adults, frontline health and social care workers, care home residents and staff, and those with certain clinical conditions. When more vaccine becomes available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible.
Non-urgent advice: Am I at increased risk from COVID-19 infection?
Coronavirus can affect anyone. If you are an older adult and have a long-term health condition, COVID-19 can be very serious and in some cases fatal.
You should have the COVID-19 vaccine if you are: an adult living or working in a care home for the elderly, a frontline healthcare worker, a frontline social care worker, a carer working in domiciliary care looking after older adults, aged 65 years and over, younger adults with long-term clinical conditions (see below)
The vaccine will also be offered to adults with conditions such as:
a blood cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
a heart problem
a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
a kidney disease
a liver disease
lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as HIV infection, steroid medication, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or psoriasis
having had an organ transplant
having had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
a neurological or muscle wasting condition
a severe or profound learning disability
a problem with your spleen, e.g sickle cell disease, or having had your spleen removed
are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
are severely mentally ill
All people who are in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Whether you are offered the vaccine may depend on the severity of your condition. Your GP can advise on whether you are eligible.
Non-urgent advice: What to expect
People who are most at risk from the complications of COVID-19 are being offered the COVID-19 vaccination first.
The vaccine you are being offered is amongst the first to be approved as safe and effective by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The practice will be contacting patients to invite them for the vaccination. This will likely take many months in total, please be patient.
Once you’ve had you’re first dose plan to attend your second appointment. You should have a record card with your next appointment written on it, for an appointment in 21 or 28 days. It is important to have both doses of the same vaccine to give you the best protection.
Non-urgent advice: Booking Vaccinations
The NHS is currently offering COVID-19 vaccinations to people in the following priority groups:
• Cohort 5 – people aged 65-69
• Cohort 6 – people with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk from Covid-19 and carers of elderly and disabled people.
• Cohort 7 – people aged 60-64
• Cohort 8 – people aged 55-59
If you are in one of these groups, you will be contacted when it is your turn for a vaccination, either by your practice or the NHS national booking service.
Anyone aged 55 or over can book an appointment through the national booking service without waiting for a letter or by calling 119. This will be extended to people in cohort 9 (50-54) over the next few weeks so keep an eye on the site homepage to see when you can use the service.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but please do not contact your GP practice or the NHS for an appointment. The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first and people will not be able to make an appointment until they have received an invitation.
COVID-19 vaccinations are free of charge and only available through the NHS. Text messages from the NHS will show as being sent from NHSvaccine and will only link to the NHS.uk website. The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details, your PIN or banking password, or ask you to press a button on your keypad.
Please continue to follow all the safety guidance even when you’ve had the vaccine as you may still be able to spread the disease, in particular hand hygiene, wearing a face covering and social distancing.
For more information about the vaccine, please visit www.nhs.uk or see these frequently asked questions.
Finding your NHS number
You can still book an appointment if you don’t have your NHS number, provided you are registered with a GP practice. However, it will be quicker if you have your number: this will be on any letter or document you have received from the NHS, including prescriptions, or you can find it online at www.nhs.uk/find-nhs-number.
Registering with a GP
You can find a GP practice on the NHS.uk website. You will need to fill in a form to register – for some practices you can do this on their website so check there first. Alternatively, you can download a GMS1 registration form on GOV.UK or arrange a time to pick up a registration form from the GP surgery. If you have problems registering with a GP practice, call the NHS England Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 22 33.
Non-urgent advice: Vaccination Sites
Some vaccines will be available in clinics at the practice.
Some clinics will be just up the road at Hillfoot Surgery in Pudsey. More information on Hillfoot can be found in these leaflets.
Non-urgent advice: What are the side effects?
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. Although you may get some protection from the first dose, having the second dose will give you the best protection against the virus.
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
general aches, or mild flu like symptoms
Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for two to three days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection (see advice on page 5). An uncommon side effect is swelling of the glands. You can rest and take the normal dose of paracetamol (follow the advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better.
These symptoms normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111. If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination (show them the vaccination card) so that they can assess you properly. You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme.
You can do this online by searching Coronavirus Yellow Card or by downloading the Yellow Card app.
Non-urgent advice: Can I catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught COVID-19 and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment.
The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:
a new continuous cough
a high temperature
a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).
Although a mild fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination, if you have any other COVID symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and arrange to have a test.
Non-urgent advice: Can I go back to normal activities after having my vaccine?
Yes, you should be able to resume activities that are normal for you as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving. You should avoid getting pregnant for two months after vaccination. Please read the detailed information here: www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination.
What do I do next?
Plan to attend your second appointment. You should have a record card with your next appointment written on it, for an appointment in 21 or 28 days. It is important to have both doses of the same vaccine to give you the best protection.
Non-urgent advice: Will the vaccine protect me?
The COVID-19 vaccine that you have had has been shown to reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. Each vaccine has been tested in more than 20,000 people in several different countries and shown to be safe.
It takes a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.
Non-urgent advice: Can I give COVID-19 to anyone, now I have had the vaccine?
The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and a full course will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus, but we do expect it to reduce this risk. So, it is still important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you.
To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:
practice social distancing
wear a face mask
wash your hands carefully and frequently
follow the current guidance at www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Non-urgent advice: What do I do next?
After you have had the first dose you need to plan to attend your second appointment. You should have a record card with your next appointment written on it for an appointment in 21 or 28 days.
It is important to have both doses of the vaccine to give you the best protection.
Keep your card safe and make sure you keep your next appointment to get your second dose.
Non-urgent advice: What should I do if I am not well when it is my next appointment?
If you are unwell, it is better to wait until you have recovered to have your vaccine, but you should try to have it as soon as possible. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a COVID-19 test or unsure if you are fit and well.
Please read the product information leaflet for more details on your vaccine, including possible side effects, by searching Coronavirus Yellow Card.
You can also report suspected side effects on the same website or by downloading the Yellow Card app.
Non-urgent advice: If you need more information on the COVID-19 vaccination
Please visit: www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination