Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the COVID-19 Vaccination programme

These are some of the most frequently asked questions received by Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group. Click on a question to reveal the answer. If you have a question which is not here, you can submit yours via the submission form on the Contact Us page.

The Vaccine

What vaccine for Covid-19 is currently available?

The Covid-19 vaccines currently available are the Pfizer/BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccine. They have been shown to be safe and offer up to 95% effectiveness against the virus and have been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). There are other vaccines due to be approved in the future.

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine helps the body to produce antibodies against the virus so that you do not suffer from the symptoms that the virus can cause. However you can still transmit the virus to others so it is important that you continue to maintain social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands as per the current government guidelines.

What, if any, are the side effects of the vaccines?

These are important details which the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use.  For this vaccine, like lots of others, some people might feel slightly unwell and get a headache but no significant side effects have been observed in the over 43,000 people involved in trials.  All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA. More information on possible side effects can be found at NHS UK Coronavirus Conditions.

I have had my first vaccination and now have a headache, what should I do?

Don’t worry this can be a normal harmless side effect after having a vaccination, your body is building antibodies in response to the vaccine. Regular painkillers such as paracetamol will help with pain relief, see dosing information on the patient information leaflet or speak to your local pharmacist. More information on possible side effects can be found on the NHS patient leaflet.

What are the ingredients of the vaccine?

A detailed review of the Pfizer vaccine and its ingredients has been provided by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and can be found here: Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine.

Ingredients for the Astrazeneca vaccine can be found here: Astrazeneca.

The British Islamic Medical Association has produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community which can be found at British Islamic Medical Association – Covid-19 Vaccination Guide.

I have an allergy to medicines and other vaccines; can I have the Covid-19 vaccine?

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) information on vaccination says that an allergy to medicines, food, or other vaccines will not stop you from having the Covid-19 vaccination. There will be an opportunity for you to speak about any concerns with a healthcare professional when you attend for your appointment.

I am taking immunosuppressant medicine(s), can I have the Covid-19 vaccine?

People who are immunosuppressed are extremely clinically vulnerable, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) information on vaccination says that being immunosuppressed may lead to a reduced response to the vaccine but should not stop you from having the Covid-19 vaccination. There will be opportunity for you to speak about any concerns with a healthcare professional when you attend for your appointment. You can also speak to the specialist responsible for your treatment before attending or responding to invitations to have the vaccine. Further information is available here .

I take anticoagulant medication (Warfarin, Direct Oral AntiCoagulant), can I have the Covid-19 vaccine?

According to the Public Health England’s Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (The Green book) the vaccine can be given intramuscularly to individuals on warfarin who are up-to-date with their scheduled international normalised ratio (INR) testing and whose latest INR is below the upper level of the therapeutic range. It can also be given to individuals who are taking Direct Oral Anticoagulant (DOAC) e.g. Apixaban, Dabigatran, Edoxaban or Rivaroxaban.

A fine needle (equal to 23 gauge or finer calibre such as 25 gauge) should be used for the vaccination, followed by firm pressure applied to the injection site without rubbing for at least two minutes. The patient should be informed of the risk of haematoma from the injection. If there is any doubt about the level of anticoagulation control, the clinician responsible for prescribing and monitoring the patient’s anticoagulant treatment should be consulted.

I have a bleeding disorder, can I have the Covid-19 vaccine?

According to the Public Health England’s Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (The Green book) the vaccine can be given intramuscularly to individuals with a bleeding disorder. If the patient is receiving regular treatment to reduce bleeding (e.g. patients with haemophilia) vaccine administration can be scheduled to occur shortly after this treatment is given.

Which of the Covid-19 vaccines are live as I cannot have a live vaccine?

None of the two vaccines that are currently available are live vaccines.

Will drinking alcohol affect the covid -19 vaccine?

While a healthy lifestyle, including drinking alcohol within the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk guidelines, is recommended, there is no consistent evidence that low and moderate levels of alcohol impair the immune system. However, chronic heavy alcohol abuse is linked to immune system dysfunction and may lead to a reduced response to some vaccines.

How many doses of the vaccine will I have to have?

You will need to have two doses. The second dose will be given up to 12 weeks after the first dose following current guidance from the Government.

Will the vaccine work against the new strain of the virus?

There is no evidence currently that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccine we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccine. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.

Should people who have already had Covid-19 get vaccinated?

Getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t. You should have the vaccine if you are in one of the national priority groups.

How much do the vaccines cost?

The Government is securing the vaccine stocks so they will not directly cost the NHS anything.

My Vaccination Appointment

What are the priority groups for the Covid-19 Vaccinations?

Group 1: Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers

Group 2: All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers

Group 3: All those 75 years of age and over

Group 4: All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

Group 5: All those 65 years of age and over

Group 6: All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality

Group 7: All those 60 years of age and over

Group 8: All those 55 years of age and over

Group 9: All those 50 years of age and over

I have a long term health condition, which priority group am I in and when will I receive the vaccination?

The priority groups (also listed above) have been devised by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) the most recent list can be found at Vaccination Priority Groups. When you are eligible to receive the vaccination you will be notified as soon as possible either by a letter from the NHS or you will be contacted by your GP practice.

I think I am in the wrong priority group what should I do?

The priority groups have been devised by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). You will have been placed in to a particular priority group following a review of several things including your clinical circumstances and your age. Rest assured that the GP practices are working through their vaccination programme as quickly as they can. When you are eligible to receive the vaccination you will be contacted by your GP practice or notified by a letter from the NHS to make arrangements for an appointment to receive your vaccination. The most recent list of priority groups can be found at Vaccination Priority Groups.

I live outside the area I am registered with another GP, but due to lockdown I am located in Stockport and I am due to have the vaccine what should I do?

Information from NHS England suggests that individuals registered with GPs should be offered the vaccine in line with the National priority vaccination programme. This is also true for temporary residents; discuss your situation with a GP practice local to where you live.

Can I choose which vaccine I will receive?

The vaccination centre will use whichever vaccine has been delivered to them. However when you are having the second of your two vaccinations, arrangements will have been made for you to be given the same one you had for your first vaccination.

When will I get my vaccination and how will I be notified?

When you are eligible to receive the vaccination you will be notified as soon as possible either by a letter from the NHS or you will be contacted by your GP practice. The NHS letter is from the National Booking Centre, where you can book your appointment at one of the regional North West vaccination centre(s) using the details in the letter.

I have had a letter telling me about the vaccine but I haven’t received any more information about an appointment what should I do?

The vaccination programme is rolling out at a fast pace, you can imagine everyone is very busy. But don’t worry, your GP practice will be in touch with you to make arrangements for you to attend for your Covid-19 vaccination as soon as they can.

I have received two letters about getting my Covid -19 Vaccination, one from the NHS and other from my GP, which one should I follow?

You are free to follow the advice of either of the letters, whichever is your preferred choice. The NHS letter is from the National Booking Centre, where you can book your appointment at one of the regional North West vaccination centre(s), using the details in the letter. However, if that is not convenient, you can choose to follow the instructions in the invitation letter from your GP.

Why have some people received their second vaccination whilst others in the same priority group have not received their first?

The vaccine programme is developing at a pace and unfortunately, the delivery of vaccines to the GP vaccination sites varies across the country. However, Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group is working closely with GP practices to roll out the vaccine to as many patients as fast as possible. Your GP practice should contact you when you’re due for the vaccination as soon as possible. Please await further instructions from your practice.

Do I need to leave a gap between having the flu vaccination and Covid-19 vaccination?

It isn’t essential but it is recommended that you leave a gap of at least seven days.

What happens if I miss my appointment for the vaccination?

Contact your GP practice to arrange another appointment. They are very busy rolling out the vaccination programme so if you are able to email them with your request that would be preferred.

I am shielding and I don’t drive, how do I get to my vaccination appointment?

You can arrange for a volunteer to help you by calling the NHS National Volunteer Service on 0808 196 4636 between 8am and 8pm 7 days a week. If you are a Stockport resident you can call the Council’s Coronavirus Helpline on 0161 217 6046 or Stockport Car Scheme on 0161 476 2812 to arrange transport to and from the vaccination centre.

I am pregnant, can I have the vaccine?

Though there is no evidence to support the use of the vaccine in pregnancy, the advice from the government medical advisers is that you can be vaccinated and should have the vaccine if the benefits outweigh the risk of being protected against Covid-19. There will be an opportunity to discuss this further with a healthcare professional at the time of your appointment.

I am breast feeding, can I have the vaccine?

Though there is no evidence to support the use of the vaccine in breast feeding mothers. The advice from the government medical advisers is that you can be vaccinated and should have the vaccine if the benefits outweigh the risk of being protected against Covid-19. There will be an opportunity to discuss this further with a healthcare professional at the time of your appointment. If you are vaccinated you should not become pregnant within two months of having the vaccine.

Can I get my vaccine earlier than the government plan?

No. The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has developed the current prioritisation plan and you will be contacted when you are eligible to receive the vaccination.

Can I get the vaccine privately?

No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS for the moment. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the police and/or local Trading Standards.

Vaccination Sites

I live in a Tier 4 area. Will vaccines still be provided/should I still attend my appointment?

Yes. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and so is within the rules wherever you live. Vaccinations will continue as normal in all areas regardless of what Tier they are in.

Care Homes

When will carers in care homes, residents and other staff receive their vaccinations?

You are in the first priority group. The Primary Care Networks, which are made up of all Stockport’s GP practices, are working hard to roll out the programme to care homes as soon as possible. Your GP practice will be in touch to confirm arrangements as soon as they can.

Health and Social Care Workers

As an NHS employed frontline worker when will I get my vaccine?

You will need to ensure that you register your occupation with your GP practice and they will be in touch with you as soon as you are eligible to receive the vaccination. You may also be approached by your place of work.

As a health care professional working in private practice when will I get my vaccination?

Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group is waiting for specific guidance regarding all frontline workers in health and social care and that will be issued when it’s received. For now ensure that you register your occupation with your GP practice and you will be contacted as soon as you are eligible to receive the vaccination.

Carers & Family Members

My mother/ father is over 80 years of age and has not been contacted to receive the vaccine. What should I do?

All those over 70 years of age should now have been offered a vaccination appointment. If this has not happened you can arrange a vaccination via the national booking service which can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by dialling 119. You can also contact your GP to arrange an appointment.

As a carer for my relative at home when will I get my vaccine?

Main carers of an elderly or disabled person, whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, have been recently added to priority group 6. Ensure that your GP practice is aware of your caring responsibilities and they will contact you as soon as they can when you are due for the vaccine.

After the Vaccination

Will I have to have a vaccination every year like I do with the flu vaccination?

Government scientists are monitoring the performance of the Covid-19 vaccines and as soon as this information is known it will be made available.

Will I be able to do things as normal after I have had my vaccination?

No. You will need to have had two doses of the vaccine and you will obtain the maximum benefit from the vaccine seven days after your second dose. Between doses and after this seven day period you should still abide by the guidance issued by the government i.e. maintain social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands. This is because even with maximum immunity you can still get and transmit the virus to others. The vaccine only stops you suffering from the symptoms that the Corona virus can cause.

How soon after having the vaccine will I become immune to Corona virus?

You will need to have two doses, the second dose will be given up to 12 weeks after the first dose following current guidance from the Government. You will have the maximum immunity you can have seven days after receiving your second of the two vaccines. However you can still transmit the virus to others so it is important that you continue to maintain social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands as per current government guidelines.

I didn’t receive a vaccination card after having my first vaccine dose what should I do?

All information is stored electronically so don’t worry, your GP will have all the information they need about the vaccine you have had and they will be in touch with you to make arrangements for your second vaccine.