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: 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: 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