Covid-19 FAQs

Below are a series of frequently asked questions to help you in making an informed decision about the coronavirus vaccine.

Please note your Covid-19 vaccination does not protect you against flu, for information regarding your flu vaccination visit our flu vaccination webpage.

Please find details of pop-up and walk-in vaccination clinics on our vaccination centres webpage.

Why are seasonal vaccinations being brought forward?

The NHS has been asked to bring forward the delivery of seasonal vaccinations following the latest expert guidance on the new BA.2.86 Covid variant (September 2023).

The NHS will be working quickly to ensure as many eligible people as possible are vaccinated by the end of October 2023, in line with the latest guidance.

When will seasonal vaccinations begin?

The adult COVID-19 and flu vaccination programme had been due to start in October 2023 to maximise protection over the winter months, but now:

  • Care home residents and staff and some people who require a home visit will be vaccinated from 11 September 2023.
  • Local vaccination offers will start at the same time, starting with those most at risk
  • All other eligible groups can make a COVID-19 booking using the national booking service from 18 September, with appointments available from 19 September 2023.
  • The flu national booking service will become available later in the campaign, but people who are eligible can access their flu vaccine from their GP surgery or pharmacy sooner.

Why is the adult flu vaccine programme being brought forward as well?

In light of the recent change in risk from a new COVID-19 variant, flu and COVID-19 vaccination for adults should now be brought forward for this year to start in September 2023 to maximise uptake of both vaccines.

Vaccinations for 5 to 11 year-olds

The Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Two doses are being offered to children aged 5 to 11 to give them the best protection against coronavirus.

Covid-19 is usually mild in most children, but it can make some children unwell. One dose of the vaccine gives good protection against your child getting seriously ill. But two doses gives stronger and longer-lasting protection against future virus variants.

Vaccinating children can reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection to your child and those around them.


Is Covid-19 serious in young children?

For most children Covid-19 is a mild illness that may require a few days off school but rarely leads to complications. For a very few children, the symptoms can be more serious or last longer.

Children with certain health conditions, or those with a weakened immune system, are at higher risk of serious Covid-19 disease. These children and those who live with someone who has a weakened immune system should already have been invited for vaccination.

My child is healthy. What are the benefits of them having the vaccine?

As well as protecting children and young people against serious infection, by getting vaccinated, children and young people can reduce the risk of passing on the infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with.

Getting the vaccine can also make it easier for children and young people to avoid putting their lives and their education on hold because of further disruption to schools, hobbies and social events due to the virus.

My child has already had the Covid-19. Do they still need the vaccine?

The Covid-19 vaccine should give your child stronger protection than natural immunity from previous infection against serious complications of infection – including any future waves due to new variants.

Your child should also have some protection from the mild symptoms, and vaccination lowers the risk they will pass the virus on to others around them.

Is there more risk to a child having COVID-19 or the vaccine?

The risk to a child of serious impact from Covid-19 is relatively low, but it will be lower if they get the vaccine. Research shows the Covid-19 vaccine can prevent the virus’s worst effects, can reduce the risk of hospitalisation, and it can protect your child and those around them from catching the virus as easily.

The majority of children and young people (CYP) experience only mild symptoms following Covid 19 infection or are asymptomatic. However, there is evidence that some will experience Long Covid, and a minority of children may develop a delayed response known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS or PIMS) following Covid-19 infection.

The vaccine has been tested across the world and found to be safe and effective, including for children this age.

Why are you offering vaccinations to 5 to 11 years if it is unurgent 

JCVI has recommended that the NHS offer vaccinations to all 5-11 year olds, to boost immunity and increase their protection against any future waves of COVID-19. This recommendation has been accepted by Government and the vaccine has been approved for this age group by the UK’s medicines regulator, so the NHS is preparing to offer the vaccine to this group.

COVID-19 is still active and causing some children to miss out on their education and the things they enjoy.

The NHS wants to support families to make an informed choice, and to make things convenient and child-friendly for those who do decide to get it.

Will the vaccine give my child COVID-19?

Your child cannot catch Covid-19 from the vaccine.

There is sometimes a delay in vaccines symptoms so it is possible they could catch the virus but not realise this until after their vaccination.

How long will the vaccine protect my child from Covid-19?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your child suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for their body to build up maximum protection from the vaccine.

Two doses of the vaccine should give your child long lasting protection against serious complications of infection – including any future waves due to new variants.

Some children may still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, but this should be less severe. If a child has had COVID-19 they will still get extra protection from the vaccine, but they will need to wait 12 weeks before getting vaccinated.

Which vaccine will my child be given and how many doses required?

Children aged 5-11 with no other underlying health conditions will be offered two paediatric (child) doses of the vaccine, with at least 12 weeks between doses. A paediatric dose is smaller than the doses given to those aged 12 and over.

Why is there a difference in the dose to those aged 12 and above?

5-11 year olds will be given a paediatric dose, 10 micrograms of Pfizer vaccine, compared to the 30 micrograms of Pfizer vaccine given to older children and adults. The majority of children and young people (CYP) experience only mild symptoms following Covid-19 infection or are asymptomatic. A smaller dose will provide protection while also reducing the risk of side-effects.

Is the paediatric dose as effective as the adult dose?

The immune response in 5-11 year olds after a paediatric dose of the vaccine will protect them from severe disease and reduce the risk of side-effects, in the same way that the adult dose protects those aged 12 and over.

The vaccine does not remove the virus, but research and experience of countries around the world shows it can prevent the worst effects of Covid-19 and reduce the risk of infection to your child and those around them.

My child is vulnerable/at risk. When should they have their vaccine?

Children aged 5-11 years-old, who are more at risk from the virus can get two paediatric (child) doses, eight weeks apart, and their GP or hospital specialist should be in touch to arrange this.

I want to get my child vaccinated – what is the consent process?

Parents, carers or those with parental responsibilities should attend COVID-19 vaccination appointments with their child. Unlike vaccinations in schools, consent is collected on the day so this is the best way to make sure they can be vaccinated by going through questions together on site. For looked after children, please refer to the care plan where permissions and restrictions of consent will be outlined. Follow the link for further information on consent to treatment for children and young people.

Will my child be offered a booster?

The NHS follows government decisions about who to vaccinate and the number of doses they received, which reflect recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI). Currently there are no plans to offer healthy 5-11 year olds a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccinations for 12 to 15 year-olds

Everyone aged 12-15 years is eligible for two doses of the Covid-19 vaccination. Second doses for 12-15 year olds should take place no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose.

Vaccines are our best defence against Covid-19. They help protect young people and those around them. Vaccination makes people less likely to catch the virus and less likely to pass it on.

Appointments for vaccinations can be made via the National Booking Service online or by calling 119 between 7am and 11pm, seven days a week.

People aged 12-15 will need to attend a vaccination centre with their parent or guardian, who will be asked to give their consent. Children can get a first dose of the vaccine from the day they turn 12.

Who is responsible for giving the vaccine to healthy 12-15 year-olds?

Vaccination will be carried out by school-aged immunisation service (SAIS) providers, a group of provider organisations such as NHS community trusts who are contracted in local systems to provide routine immunisation services such as flu.

What will be the role of schools?

Schools will have three main roles, similar to those in other vaccination programmes:

  1. provide information to their SAIS provider on which children on their roll are eligible for the vaccine.
  2. share information that the SAIS provider needs parents and children to have.
  3. provide the space within school, and the time away from the timetable, to enable vaccinations to take place.

Are at-risk children being vaccinated in schools too?

Primary care network (PCN) groupings delivering the COVID-19 vaccination enhanced service are the main providers for at-risk children, reflecting the existing relationships that general practice has with these children and their families.

Is there national guidance on consent?

All consent guidance is contained within Public Health England’s ‘Green Book’.

The COVID-19 vaccination consent form for children and young people (including easy-read immunisation and consent resources) can be found on the website.  

Who gives consent for COVID-19 vaccination – and how?

As with all vaccinations, a consent form and information leaflet provided by the SAIS team will be used to seek consent from parents or those with parental responsibility. Parents will also be provided with a contact number for the SAIS team in case of any queries. Consent forms should be returned by the deadline agreed with the team.

Some children may be sufficiently mature to provide their own consent if their parents have not returned a consent form and they express a wish to have a vaccine on the day of the session. Trained professionals in the SAIS team, with expertise in vaccinating children and assessing consent, will speak to the child to assess intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what's involved in their treatment, to determine appropriateness of administering the vaccine. This will include making every effort to contact the parent to seek their verbal consent and an assessment of the individual child’s capacity to self-consent, where appropriate.

The COVID-19 vaccination consent form for children and young people can be found on the website.

Information on school flu consent is available on the Flu vaccination programme section of the website

Is any guidance available for children who are needle-phobic?

Vaccination safety

Vaccines provided by the NHS have been approved because they pass the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency tests on safety and efficacy.

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?

Yes. The NHS would not offer any vaccinations to th epublic until experts have confirmed they are safe.

Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?

  • To protect you and your family. Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you, your family, and those you care for and come into contact with.
  • If you’re a frontline worker in the NHS on in a care environment, it’s important you are vaccinated as you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
  • When we have had a COVID-19 vaccination this should reduce how seriously we are affected by the virus. This will reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services, and help to save lives.

Are there any side effects from being vaccinated?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. 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;
  • Feeling tired;
  • Headache;
  • General aches, or mild flu like symptoms.

As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic reaction.

All patients will be given information on the vaccine they have had. This includes how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if you have a reaction. You can report suspected side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to ensure safe and effective use of the COVID-19 vaccines.

It is important for people to report problems experienced with medicines as these are used to identify issues which might not have been previously known about. The MHRA will review the issue and if necessary, take action to minimise risk and maximise benefit to the patients.

Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.

Fertility, pregnancy, and the vaccines

The coronavirus vaccines available in the UK have been shown to be effective and to have a good safety profile.

These vaccines do not contain live coronavirus and cannot infect a pregnant woman or her unborn baby in the womb

There is no need to avoid getting pregnant after Covid-19 vaccination. There is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccines have any effect on fertility or your chances of becoming pregnant.

Should I receive the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Does the vaccine affect female or male fertility?

Female fertility

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are aware that there has been some misinformation circulating about the impact of Covid-19 vaccines on fertility. RCOG have developed a range of information for healthcare professionals and pregnant women about COVID-19 vaccinations which can be found on the RCOG website.

Male fertility

The British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists has said there is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men. People of reproductive age are advised to have the vaccine when they receive their invitation for vaccination.

Existing health conditions and the vaccines

Vaccines are the best way to protect people from Covid-19 and have already saved thousands of lives. Everyone should continue to get their vaccination when asked to do so unless specifically advised otherwise.

I’ve had my flu vaccine, do I need a coronavirus vaccine?

The flu vaccine does not protect you from Covid-19. Please take up your Covid-19 vaccines as soon as you are offered them.

Will the Covid-19 vaccine protect me from flu?

No, the Covid-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu. If you have been offered a flu vaccine, please try to have this as soon as possible to help protect you, your family and patients from flu this winter.

I'm not feeling well. Should I still go for my vaccine 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.

I have recovered from coronavirus. Am I still able to have a vaccine?

  • Please do not attend your appointment if you are unsure if you are fully recovered.

  • Following a positive Covid-19 test, you must wait 4 weeks to receive a vaccine if you are over 18.

  • 12-15 year old's must wait for 12 weeks following a positive Covid-19 test to get their first or second dose.

I am currently Covid-19 positive, can I still be vaccinated?

Your vaccination should be delayed until you're feeling better and by at least four weeks after your symptoms started or your positive test result if you don't have symptoms.

Should I get the vaccine if I am suffering from ‘Long Covid’?

Yes, you should take up your invitation to have Covid-19 vaccinations as soon as you are invited to receive them.

The MHRA has said that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t.

If you are suffering significant ongoing complications from Covid-19 you should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine with a doctor.

I am on a blood thinner, can I still be vaccinated?

Blood thinners such as aspirin and clopidogrel should present no additional problems other than you may get some bruising.

If you normally have vaccinations without difficulty, then coronavirus vaccines should present no additional problems.

I have allergies. Is it safe for me to have a vaccine?

In the first instance please talk with your GP to clarify your medical and allergy history. They may be able to give you a definitive answer on whether to have a vaccination and can refer you to the Covid Allergy Service for specialist review and advice.

If you still have concerns/ questions then you should attend your vaccine appointment and talk it through with the clinician consenting you. If they are in any doubt they can arrange to refer you to the Covid Allergy Service for more detailed advice. This may take a little while to arrange.

Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction when you are vaccinated, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccines are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

You can report any suspected side effect using the Coronavirus Yellow Card safety scheme.

I take medication. Is it safe for me to have the vaccination?

Public Health England say there are very few individuals who can’t have a vaccine for Covid-19. But if you want to know if it’s still safe for you to have the vaccine you can speak to your GP.

Before you have the vaccine, you should be asked questions about any medication you take and any medical conditions you have.

Make sure you tell the professional who is going to give you the vaccine this information. It will help you to write down what medications you’re taking before your vaccine appointment.

There's further information on the 'Rethink mental illness' website on COVID-19 vaccine and people living with severe mental illness.

What to do if I'm medically exempt from vaccination and need proof?

Please visit the GOV.UK Covid-19 exemption website for the latest details on how to prove you are exempt.

The vaccines and suitability

The Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

Do the vaccines contain animal products?

No, the approved Covid-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg. The Covid-19 vaccine ingredients are available on the GOV.UK website.

Are the vaccines vegan/vegetarian friendly?

Yes, neither vaccine contains meat derivatives or porcine products.

If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs.

Are the vaccines suitable for our BAME communities?

Yes – the vaccines have been tested on people from lots of different ethnic backgrounds and there are no safety concerns related to ethnicity.

The rate of COVID infections and deaths has been disproportionately high amongst some of our BAME communities. We want to make sure that all families are protected.

We hope this YouTube video can help dispel some of the myths and offer some encouragement for everyone to take the vaccine.

How effective are the vaccines?

Three Covid-19 vaccines, Pfizer/BioNTech, Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca and Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna, are currently being used in the UK. All have been authorised for supply by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) following a thorough review of safety, quality and efficacy information from clinical trials.

In clinical trials, the vaccines showed very high levels of protection against symptomatic infections with Covid-19. 

Data is now available on the impact of the vaccination campaign in reducing infections and illness in the UK.

  • If you are healthy, the 1st dose of an approved Covid-19 vaccine should give you some protection from coronavirus. But you need to have two doses plus a booster vaccine to give you longer lasting and better protection.

  • If you are immunosuppressed you are eligible for three doses plus a booster, which will give you the best protection against Covid-19.

  • There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have been vaccinated but the chance of serious illness is lowered. This means it is important to continue to follow current guidance around Covid-19.

How long do the Covid-19 vaccines take to become effective?

The MHRA has stated that vaccines are highly effective within two to three weeks, even after one dose.

To get maximum protection people need to come back for a second jab and a booster when they are invited.

There is a small chance you might still get coronavirus even after you’ve been vaccinated. This means it is important to follow government guidelines around Covid-19.  

How do the vaccines work?

The vaccines train your immune system to be able to quickly recognise and clear the coronavirus if you catch it in the future.

Your vaccination appointment

Vaccination services are running in a number of community locations.

You can find out more, including details of locations and availability of walk-in vaccination clinics with no appointments required on our Covid-19 vaccination centres webpage.

Should you need it, help and assistance is available across all of our vaccination sites.

If possible please bring with you your vaccination booking reference number, but do not worry if you don't have this to hand.

During vaccination, strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place. Staff will wear face masks and ensure their hands are sanitised between patient appointments.

The vaccine will be given as an injection in the upper arm. It'll only take a few minutes to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Do not attend your vaccine appointment if you feel unwell with symptoms of coronavirus.

I don't speak English very well. Can I get help with interpretation?

Virtual interpretation services are available at all of our vaccination centres.

When you arrive at the centre, you can make it known at reception that need an interpreter. The reception staff will provide you with a mobile device (tablet/iPad) that links to our interpretation service. Volunteers at the centres will be able to help you with this. 

Do I need to complete any forms at the vaccination centre?

No – all necessary information is already available through our IT computer systems. You do not need to bring a pen or write on any forms to receive your vaccination.

What happens at my appointment and how long will it take?

  • Your appointment should last about 30 minutes.

  • It is important that you attend as close to your given arrival time as possible. Turning up early may mean you need to queue for longer.

  • You will be asked if you need any assistance.

  • You'll be asked some questions about your medical history.

  • It's important to tell the staff if you have ever had an allergic reaction to medicines, vaccines or food.

  • If your appointment is at a vaccination centre, you'll be asked for your booking reference numbers.

  • You do not need to complete any forms/anything in writing.

  • You will then be given an injection of the vaccine into an upper arm of your choice.

What happens after I've had my injection?

  • You may choose to wait at the vaccination center for 15 minutes after having your injection.

  • Research has found it's very rare to have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccines. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes. The team is trained and equipped to deal with reactions and treat them immediately.

  • You will be given a leaflet describing common side effects that can happen to take away with you.