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Questions on vaccine safety and effectiveness

 

How can I be sure that the vaccine is safe & effective?

The NHS does not offer any vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe, and beneficial to do so.

There are three different Covid-19 vaccines currently available in the UK under the NHS - the Pfizer/BioNTech (also sometimes known by its brand name as Comirnaty), the Moderna (also sometimes known as spikevax), and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has approved these as safe and offering 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 they are authorised and being used in the wider population too.

  

The vaccine was developed very quickly – how was this possible without cutting corners?

The global nature of the pandemic has meant that the development of vaccines has been the focus of huge amounts of funding, knowledge and resource from countries all around the world. It has also been possible to recruit patients to be involved in testing the vaccine much more quickly.

It’s also important to understand that these vaccines haven’t been developed from nowhere. Scientists had already been working on vaccines against the SARS group of viruses, of which Covid-19 is just one, many years previously.

All of the vaccine that have been approved for use in the UK have met very strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

None of the other vaccines under development will be available until they have passed those same strict standards either, which apply to every vaccine the NHS uses.

 

Should I be worried about reports of blood clots linked to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine?

The MHRA is carrying out detailed reviews of reports of an extremely rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, it's important to consider that blood clots are also a common side-effect of getting coronavirus - and the statistical odds of getting a clot after catching the virus are far higher than from a rare side-effect caused by the vaccine. 

For the vast majority of people, the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh any rare risk of clotting problems. The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you and those you love from getting seriously ill or dying from coronavirus. 

However, to be extra cautious, the government has advised that people under 30 without other health conditions should have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting on GOV.UK

 

I’m not convinced that the vaccine works very well - is it really worth getting?

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK's regulator, has approved all vaccines available in the UK as highly effective in protecting individuals against COVID-19.

All of the latest studies/data shows that the UK’s approved vaccines can provide anywhere between 70% to over 100% protection in individuals, and is therefore well worth getting.

 

Can’t I just wait to catch Covid-19, and become naturally immune?

The vaccine is extremely effective at training the body’s immune system to fight off the COVID-19 virus, and having the vaccine is a much safer way to gain immunity that waiting to catch the virus with its many known health risks, and hoping that you don’t become seriously ill, or develop long covid later.

 

Should I be worried about the side-effects of getting the vaccine?

We want to reassure everyone that the vast majority of people experience either no side effects, or very mild ones after having a covid-19 vaccination.

The most commonly reported side-effects are:

  • having a slightly heavy arm
  • experiencing mild flu-like symptoms for a day or so after the vaccine – such as temporary headache or chills

Please also be reassured that checking for any history of allergies, as well as being able to deal with any allergic reactions in the very rare instances that they do happen, is a central part of training for all vaccinations.

 

Will the vaccine prevent me from getting long COVID?

Evidence from studies shows that people who are vaccinated are less likely to suffer from long COVID. This benefit is in addition to the reduced chance of contracting the virus and the reduction in transmission to others from people who are vaccinated. 

You can read more about the research into the effectiveness of vaccination against long COVID here.

 

Why should children & young people get the vaccine?

COVID-19 symptoms are usually mild in most children, but it can make some children very unwell. The COVID-19 vaccine will give your child or young person a good level of protection against getting seriously ill or being hospitalised.

Vaccinating children can also help reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 within school communities, prevent further disruption to face to face education, and help to keep young people emotionally well.

 

How can I be sure that it's safe for children and young people?

The UK’s independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective for children, following an extensive review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine in this age group.

Millions of children and young people from around the world have also already had a COVID-19 vaccine, which is why parents can feel confident about vaccinating children and young people to protect them from COVID-19 here in the UK too.