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Covid-19 national vaccination programme

The UK’s regulatory body (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - MHRA) has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the Moderna vaccines. 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19.

Anyone aged 12 and over can now access their vaccination. 

You can read more about the national Covid-19 vaccination programme here including:

  • who can get the vaccine, including boosters
  • how to book your vaccine
  • how to find walk-in centres
  • information on safety and side effects
  • information on pregnancy, breast-feeding and fertility
  • vaccine ingredients. 

Take-up of the vaccine has been incredibly strong.  Millions of people have already taken up the vaccine offer and we are seeing this result in the welcome fall in infections and hospital cases. But Covid is still present in the community and we need everyone to access the maximum protection available to them as we move into the winter period. 

Please play your part:

  • get vaccinated against COVID-19
  • meet people outside if possible
  • open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside
  • limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded places
  • wear a face covering when it's hard to stay away from other people – particularly indoors or in crowded places
  • wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day

Where can I get a vaccine

You can find out more about where your local vaccination services and centres are by clicking on the links below:

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 

Norfolk and Waveney

Bedfordshire Luton and Milton Keynes

 Please find below some further information about the national vaccination programme:

What vaccine for COVID-19 are currently approved?

The Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are all now approved.  These vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection, and have been given regulatory approval by the MHRA. 

Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe?  

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.  
  
The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said that these vaccines have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.   
  
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products.  
  
There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.  

How were vaccines developed so quickly? 

Medicines including vaccines are highly regulated – and that is no different for the approved COVID-19 vaccines. There a number of enablers that have made this ground-breaking medical advancement possible and why it was possible to develop them relatively quickly compared to other medicines; 

1. The different phases of the clinical trial were delivered to overlap instead of run sequentially which sped up the clinical process; 
2. There was a rolling assessment of data packages as soon as they were available so experts at the MHRA could review as the trial was being delivered, ask questions along the way and request extra information as needed – as opposed to getting all information at the end of a trial; 
3. clinical trials managed to recruit people very quickly as a global effort meant thousands of people were willing to volunteer. 

 
Watch this video of scientists leading the development of a COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Oxford explain how they assess safety at each stage of the process.

To find out more about vaccines watch this video of Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the Government's Deputy Chief Medical Officer. 

How will people know if they’re eligible for a vaccine and how to get it?

People will receive a letter from the NHS inviting them to attend or book an appointment when it is their turn.  In the meantime, the following information leaflets and resources are available (including easy read, braille, audio, BSL and a variety of languages:

A range of easy read leaflets and resources

British Sign Language (BSL) resources 

PHE Covid-19 resources for children and young people

PHE Covid-19 resources for booster vaccinations

PHE Covid-19 vaccination for adults i

PHE Covid-19 vaccination leaflet for healthcare workers

 PHE Covid-19 leaflet for all women of childbearing age, those currently pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding 

PHE Covid-19 leaflet for social care staff 

PHE Covid-19 leaflet about what to expect after a vaccination

Are there any side effects?  

These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use.  
  
For these vaccines, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the tens of thousands of 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 here

What about reports of issues relating to rare blood clots with the Astra Zeneca vaccine?

Read more about the benefits and risks of the Covid-19 vaccination here:  

When will you publish vaccine ingredients?  

A detailed review of the vaccines and their ingredients have been provided by the MHRA and can be found at the following links:

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here: 

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here
 For the Moderna vaccine information is available here

The British Islamic Medical Association have produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community which can be found here  

 What about the allergic reactions that have been reported? 

These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.  
  
Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them. A second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.
  
Everybody will also be screened for potential allergic reactions before getting vaccinated. All vaccinators will have the training they need to deal with any rare cases of adverse reactions, and all venues will be equipped to care for people who need it – just like with any other vaccine. 
  
Has the guidance on allergies changed? 

The original MHRA advice was that anybody with a known allergy to specific ingredients in the vaccine should not be vaccinated. This was temporarily widened but the guidance has now reverted to this. 
  
Checking for allergies is a routine part of the process before giving any vaccine or new medicine. Having these conversations – as well as being able to deal with allergic reactions in the rare case they do happen, is a central part of training for vaccinators. But these are new vaccines and so the NHS and the MHRA are being extra vigilant and responding quickly to ensure everyone across the NHS is totally clear on these requirements.  
  
How effective are the vaccines?

The MHRA have said these vaccines are highly effective, but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose (and, where eligible booster jabs or third primary doses for those who are immunosuppressed).  This is really important to ensure you have maximum protection.  

For the most up to date information on the national vaccine programme including who is eligible for what, visit www.nhs.uk 

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