Frequently asked questions (FAQs) and publications

Thank you for your interest in COVID-19 vaccination in Devon.

This page brings together the latest news on mass vaccination, including frequently asked questions and our press releases.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) for patients

How will patients be invited for a vaccination?

People will receive an invitation to come forward. For most, this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.

You will be contacted when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Please don’t contact the NHS in the meantime, as this will slow down the ability to roll out the programme.

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?

Yes.  The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said the vaccines are very safe and highly effective, 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 long does the vaccine take to become effective?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your suffering from COVID-19 disease.

It takes a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine so it’s important to continue to follow social distancing guidance even after you’ve been vaccinated.

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

Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you, your family and those you care for.

The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.

People who are eligible for the vaccine are encouraged to book an appointment, however the NHS is respectful to those who don’t wish to receive the vaccine at this stage.

How is the vaccine given?

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into the upper arm in two doses.

The first dose provides good protection from coronavirus, with the second giving longer lasting protection. The second dose is being given at about 12 weeks after the first.

It takes a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine so it’s important to continue to follow social distancing guidance even after you’ve been vaccinated.

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?

Yes, the vaccine does not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products.

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

This is all included in the information published by the MHRA, and Public Health England will also be publishing more resources for patients and professionals.

The NHS will ensure people have all the necessary information on those vaccines that are approved by the MHRA before they attend for their vaccination.

Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?

Yes. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has made this decision, 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.

What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?

The phase three study of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 95%, with consistent efficacy across age, gender and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan.

I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?

People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.

Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?

Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.

Are there any side effects?

Like all vaccines, both the Pfizer and the Oxford coronavirus vaccinations can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them.

Thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine so far, and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.

Most side effects are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.

What if I have allergic reactions?

Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

You should not have the vaccine if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction to:

  • a previous vaccine
  • a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine

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

Should I have the vaccine if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe if you’re pregnant.

Care home staff who are pregnant are recommended to speak to a healthcare professional before having the vaccination.

You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19, so you can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re breastfeeding.

Read the latest COVID-19 vaccine advice if you’re pregnant, may get pregnant or are breastfeeding on GOV.UK

Read the latest Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Royal College of Midwives statement on the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility.

How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?

You are required to have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Second doses of both vaccines will be administered within 12 weeks, in line with national guidance.

I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?

The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.

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.

Which members of the public are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the moment?

The NHS is currently in the process of offering the vaccine to people aged 80 and over, those who live or work in care home, and frontline health and social care staff.

When everyone in these groups has had the chance to get their first dose of the vaccine the programme will expand to other people that are at risk either due to their age group or medical condition in line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations.

I’ve already had my first jab, how do I get my second?

If you have had your first jab already through a hospital or GP services, the local NHS will contact you about getting your second.

If you have received a letter from the national booking service and you have already had your first dose of the vaccination, please ignore the letter. This service will require you to book appointments for both doses of the vaccination at the same time.

What are the different ways members of the public might be contacted to get their vaccination?

  1. Local hospital services – you might be contacted either to have the vaccine as an inpatient or at an outpatient appointment.
  2. Local GP services – practices in your area are working together to contact and offer the vaccine to as many people as possible. This may be at a different surgery than you usually go to, or at a venue we have set up specially to deliver vaccines.
  3. Through your care home – GPs and their teams are also arranging to vaccinate care home residents directly, in their homes.
  4. A letter from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service to book online or by phone. Booking through this service will give you the option of having the vaccine at a special Vaccination Centre, or potentially a community pharmacy depending on whether these are available locally.

Where are the vaccination sites in Devon?

The full list of sites is available on our coronavirus vaccine page.

I’m a carer – how do I get the vaccine?

If you look after someone who relies on your help and therefore have difficultly taking time away to get your COVID-19 vaccination, Devon’s vaccine support team can help.

The team can offer support such as arranging your vaccination at a time to suit you, fast-tracking your appointment to get you home more quickly or arranging transportation.

To find out more, email the team, or call 01752 398836.

There are more services to help you, depending on where you live:

 In the Devon County Council area, to get information and advice from Devon Carers

In the Plymouth City Council area, you can contact Improving Lives Plymouth:

In the Torbay Council area, visit Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s website, and use the contacts form called Signposts for Carers, or call 01803 666 620.

Publications and media