The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.
Vaccine information and questions
- Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine
- When will I be vaccinated?
- Is the vaccine safe?
- Are there concerns about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine?
- I am worried about having my second dose of AstraZeneca
- How effective are the vaccines?
- Will the vaccines work with the new strains?
- Can people pick what vaccine they want?
- What about the Moderna vaccine?
- Does the vaccine have any side effects?
- Does the vaccine include any parts from foetal or animal origin?
- Do I need to have the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?
- Can Muslims have the vaccine under Islamic law?
- Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine while fasting for Ramadan?
- Could the vaccine be less effective for Black people?
- Video: COVID-19 Vaccination Information Event
- Other information about the vaccine
- Vaccine information in easy-read format
- Vaccine information in other languages
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 18 and over, or those who will turn 18 before 1 July 2021.
In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time.
People aged 18 and over who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 are being asked to contact the NHS to arrange a jab.
Contact the NHS for an appointment:
- Or call 119 free of charge any time between 7am to 11pm, seven days a week
You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy now or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service.
NHS SW London are also operating walk-in vaccination clinics across South West London - Check dates, opening times and eligibility.
Patients shielding or who are clinically vulnerable
More people in South West London and across the country are being asked to shield against coronavirus following the development of a new national COVID risk assessment.
- People who have now been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable will shortly receive a letter from the NHS telling them to begin shielding until at least 31 March.
- People who are already shielding will also receive an updated letter from the NHS telling them to extend shielding to 31 March.
- Previously, shielding has been based on health conditions and age, but the new method also takes account of factors including ethnicity, homelessness, deprivation, age, and body mass index.
- Those within this group who are over 70 will have already been invited for a vaccination, those within the group who are 19 – 69 years will now be fast-tracked for a vaccination and will be contacted as soon as possible for a vaccine, if they have not already been invited.
- People who have been identified in this new shielded cohort do not need to proactively contact their GP to arrange a vaccine.
Register with a GP
You will need to be registered with a GP surgery in England. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.
The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine. It is important NOT to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then. When it is the right time for you to receive your vaccination, you will receive an invitation to come forward. This may be via the phone, or through a letter either from your GP or the national booking system. This letter will include all the information you will need to book appointments, including your NHS number. Please do not contact the NHS to get an appointment until you get this letter.
- Further information on why you may need to wait for the vaccine
- Further information on what to expect from the vaccine
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are now available. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection and have been given regulatory approval by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
So far, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and no serious side effects or complications have been reported.
Find out more about regulatory approval of the vaccine.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives. The MHRA (UK regulator) has undertaken a thorough review into UK reports of a very rare and unlikely to occur specific type of blood clot in the brain, following vaccination with the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. Up to and including 31 March 2021, the MHRA had received 79 UK reports of blood clotting cases alongside low levels of platelets following the use of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
Everybody who has already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts from their first vaccination.
The Government has also sets out that, as a precaution, it is preferable for people under the age of 30 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible once they are eligible.
When people are called forward, they should get their jab. Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and provide strong protection against COVID-19.
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. It is important that you get your 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to give you the best protection. View further information from the NHS and Public Health England.
The MHRA have said these vaccines are highly effective, but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is really important.
To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advise that the second dose of both the OxfordAstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart.
Full protection kicks in around a week or two after that second dose, which is why it’s also important that when you do get invited, you act on that and get yourself booked in as soon as possible. Even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance.
There is no evidence currently that the new strains will be resistant to the vaccines we have, so the NHS are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccines. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.
Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while.
The MHRA have now decided - after extensive assessment - that the Moderna vaccines are safe and effective. The Government provisionally ordered several million doses of this vaccine ahead of it being approved, but we don’t expect Moderna to be able to make these available until spring 2021.
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. Find out more about the side effects.
There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.
Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.
Yes, after discussion with experts, the British Islamic Medical Association encourages individuals to take the COVID vaccine as advised by their medical practitioner.
The British Islamic Medical Association has issued specific advice urging Muslims observing Ramadan not to delay getting the vaccine, which says that taking the COVID-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate a fast. It recommends that individuals should not delay their COVID-19 vaccinations on account of Ramadan.
The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does contain a very small amount of ethanol, but the British Islamic Medical Association recommends that eligible individuals in Muslim communities should still receive it. The British Islamic Medical Association has also produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community on the contents of both vaccines.
No, there is not any evidence that either of the vaccines will work differently among different ethnic groups. Around 10% of the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial participants were Black or African.