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Frequently Asked Questions - COVID-19 Vaccine

Further information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available on the NHS website here. Regional Frequently Asked Questions are available here and a range of COVID-19 vaccination facts available here

The COVID-19 booster programme is the rollout of an additional vaccine dose to people who have previously received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to ensure continued protection for those most at risk from COVID-19.

In Cheshire, booster vaccinations are being delivered at dozens of GP and pharmacy-led vaccination centres. The quickest and easiest way to arrange your booster vaccination is online via the National Booking System (or by calling 119). There is no need to contact your GP practice.

In line with national guidance, there must be at least a six-month gap between your second jab and your booster vaccination. Please be aware that you may be invited to a different vaccination centre this time around and, in some cases, a flu jab may be offered at the same time.

Independent experts, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), have said that for the 2021 COVID-19 vaccination programme, the following people who received vaccination in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be offered a third dose COVID-19 booster vaccine:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 50 years or over
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
  • adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

After reviewing data on booster responses from different combinations of COVID-19 vaccines, JCVI advises a preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be offered as the booster dose irrespective of which type of vaccine was used in the primary schedule. There is good evidence that it will provide a strong booster response.

Alternatively, individuals may be offered a half dose of the Moderna vaccine, which is also likely to provide a strong booster response.

The COVID-19 booster and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and for people that are eligible for both, there may be opportunities to have both together. We would encourage you to get your vaccinations as soon as possible and get fully protected rather than waiting as it may not always be possible to get them together.

In line with national guidance, young people aged 16 and 17 are currently being offered a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine only. The timing of a second dose will be confirmed later.

Everyone aged 18+ who has already had their first dose COVID vaccine will now receive their second dose 8 weeks later.

The JCVI defines clinically vulnerable people as those with:

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease) 
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down's syndrome
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness

No. The Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have all been approved for use in the UK following extensive trials. The NHS only ever uses vaccines that are proven to be both safe and effective.

A detailed review of the vaccines and their ingredients have been provided by the
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA):

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here

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

If you're pregnant, you should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when you're eligible for it.

It's preferable for you to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine because they've been more widely used during pregnancy in other countries and have not caused any safety issues.

You can also have the COVID-19 vaccine if you're breastfeeding.

Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you.

The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), has said: "We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of COVID-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data.

"There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility. Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated have gone on to have fertility problems.

"For women in the age group where they may be considering pregnancy, the vaccination is only currently being offered to two groups - health and social care workers (including carers for older adults in residential care homes) who are at higher risk of catching Covid-19 and those with serious medical conditions who have a greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19. Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are eligible will also be offered the vaccine."

Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Chief Executive Gill Walton said: "If you are eligible for and have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine, the decision whether to have the vaccination is your choice. You can either have the vaccine or wait for more information about the vaccine. Women who are eligible for the vaccination should consider discussing any concerns they have with their midwife or healthcare professional.

"The RCOG and RCM would also like to emphasise to all women in this group (and all others) the importance of practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and regular handwashing."

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) does not advise routine pregnancy testing before receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine and they state that those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

It is expected that access to the vaccine will allow vulnerable patient groups to be able to access fertility treatment that may have been paused during the pandemic.

The use of any pharmaceutical product in women who are trying to conceive should be subject to a balance between the expected benefit and potential harms.

Women who would benefit from the vaccine should be able to receive it without compromising their planned fertility treatment. Women should be made aware that although there is no safety data for COVID-19 vaccinations in pregnancy, there is no known risk from other non-live vaccines in pregnant women.

In line with the JCVI guidance, appropriately informed patients who choose to accept COVID-19 vaccination do not need to avoid fertility treatment/pregnancy after vaccination.

The Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS) and British Fertility Society (BFS) have released a statement regarding the COVID-19 vaccination for those planning fertility treatment.

Please see their full statement here: https://www.arcscientists.org/arcs-bfs-joint-guidelines-addendum/

Yes. Please keep taking part in regular ‘no symptoms’ testing. The vaccination programme alone is not enough to beat COVID-19. Testing is one of the best tools that we have to help us to prevent future outbreaks and to reduce the risk of new variants emerging.

Testing, vaccination and continuing to follow good hygiene and social distancing rules, wearing face masks and remaining vigilant will all help to enable the return of more services, activities, events and getting back to all the people and things that we love.

Whilst vaccinations significantly reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill or being hospitalised due to COVID-19, it is still possible to be infected and potentially pass the virus on to other people even after being vaccinated. There will also always be a number of people who can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons.

The vaccination and tests work in different ways and don’t affect each other. So, if you test positive for COVID-19, you should self isolate immediately.

We are aware of some instances in which a person’s vaccination event/s may appear “missing” on the National Immunisation Management system (NIMs). In most circumstances, the vaccination record is not missing, it is simply delayed or being held within the system until the problem associated with it has been resolved.

Please do not ask your GP practice to update your vaccination records as they are not able to do so.

Common causes for “missing” records can include:

  • When a 1st vaccination is administered overseas
  • When someone registered with a Welsh / Scottish / Irish / Isle of Man GP is vaccinated in an English vaccination centre
  • When mandatory fields are not populated correctly in the point of care system
  • When the vaccination record is made on paper and has not yet been entered

The latest updates on this from NHS Digital are available here: https://digital.nhs.uk/coronavirus/vaccinations/covid-19-vaccination-record-queries

Please direct any queries about the NHS COVID Pass to the 119 phone line and select the appropriate option for that service.