Covid-19 vaccinations Q&A

Covid-19 vaccinations Q&A

These questions and answers (Q&A) have been created to help all staff understand more about the COVID-19 vaccination programme. The Government have committed to giving every adult a vaccine who wants it but have obviously had to prioritise the rollout of the vaccines across the population.

Vaccinations are an important tool in tackling the spread and consequences of COVID-19 along with following the relevant guidance and COVID secure practice - *hands *face *space *fresh air – both within and outside the workplace.

Accessible formats

Vaccination information is available in lots of accessible formats and can be found on the Public Health England campaign resource centre web page which includes British sign language (BSL), Braille, Easy Read, LD and Autism, Large Print and multiple languages.

Covid vaccinations

The aims of the COVID-19 vaccination programme are to protect those who are at highest risk from serious illness or death from COVID-19, and to support the NHS and social care system. Firstly, the priority groups are part of phase 1 of the COVID-19 Vaccination roll out and are listed below: 

  1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over, and frontline health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over, and individuals deemed clinically extremely vulnerable
  5. all those 65 years of age and over
  6. all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  7. all those 60 years of age and over
  8. all those 55 years of age and over
  9. all those 50 years of age and over

The priority list is against an evidence base as to who is most at risk. It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID-19.

Covid-19 – vaccination information

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others.

Research has shown the vaccines:

•          reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19

•          reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19

•          protect against COVID-19 variants

•          If someone who has been vaccinated catches a disease, the symptoms are often milder than they would be for an unvaccinated person.

The first dose should give you good protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you've had it. You need 2 doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection. You are much less likely to be seriously ill and may have no symptoms at all if you are fully vaccinated.

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Covid-19 vaccine is recommended for most people aged 12 and over.

You may be contacted by the NHS or the school aged immunisation service when you are able to get the vaccine.

If you haven't been contacted and you're in an eligible group, then you can book your appointments online, or you may be able to attend a walk-in service.


Types of COVID-19 vaccines

The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in the UK are:

•          Moderna vaccine

•          Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

•          Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

•          Janssen vaccine (available later this year-2021)

Can I choose which vaccine I have?

You cannot usually choose which vaccine you have. When you book, you'll only be offered appointments for vaccines that are suitable for you.

Most people can have any of the COVID-19 vaccines, but some people are only offered certain vaccines.

For example:

  • if you're pregnant or under 40 you'll usually be offered appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines
  • if you're under 18, you'll only be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

You should have the same vaccine for both doses unless you had serious side effects (such as a serious allergic reaction) after your first dose.

Most people will be offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine.

This means your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your first and second doses.

Some people may be offered a booster dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

It is very important to maintain a high level of protection through the winter, you should get a booster vaccine for COVID-19 when offered.


COVID-19 booster vaccine and flu vaccine

Most people who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine.  If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time.


Waiting after your Covid-19 vaccination -  UK health Security Agency 22 December 2021

What is changing

Up until now, people receiving the Moderna, or Pfizer vaccines have been asked to wait for 15 minutes before leaving the vaccination centre. This was because the rate of serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) reported after these 2 vaccines is slightly higher (around 5 to 10 per million doses) than after other vaccines (normally 1 per million).

Why this is changing

Due to the Omicron variant, the booster programme for adults is being accelerated. As part of this, and given the very low rate of anaphylaxis, the 15-minute wait has been suspended, as we now have much more experience with giving these vaccines to millions of people. People are not normally observed for 15 minutes after other vaccinations.

Who is advising this change?

The change has been advised by the Chief Medical Officer, and has the support of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

What you should do when you attend your vaccination

If you have a history of allergies, particularly to other vaccines, or if you had an immediate reaction after your previous doses, you may be advised to stay for the full 15 minutes. Please make sure you tell the vaccination centre. Note that a family history of allergies (or even anaphylaxis) is not a risk factor.

Please also tell them if you have previously fainted following vaccination.

Otherwise, you will be able to leave the centre straight after your vaccine as long as you feel okay. You must not drive for 15 minutes after the vaccine – this is because of the risk of fainting.

What happens if you do experience allergic symptoms?

You should look out for the following symptoms:


  • persistent cough
  • vocal changes (hoarse voice)
  • swollen tongue causing difficulty swallowing


  • difficult or noisy breathing
  • wheezing (like an asthma attack)


  • feeling lightheaded or prolonged faint
  • clammy skin
  • confusion
  • unresponsive or unconscious

These symptoms typically happen within 15 minutes of vaccination.

If you experience any of these, call out for help and/or ring 999 immediately (or ask someone to do this for you).

The following symptoms on their own are not anaphylaxis, but imply a milder reaction:

  • swollen lips, face, or eyes
  • itchy skin rash, for example ‘hives’, urticaria

If any of these symptoms occur and you need advice, contact 111 or your health professional.

Simple faints are much more common after vaccination. If you do faint, stay flat on your back with your legs raised. If this doesn’t make you feel better, then call for help.

Further information

You can report suspected side effects on the coronavirus Yellow Card website.

Read the product information leaflets for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for more details on your vaccine, including possible side effects.


COVID-19 vaccines safety and side effects

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

They can cause some side effects, but not everyone gets them.

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

•          a sore arm from the injection

•          feeling tired

•          a headache

•          feeling achy feeling or being sick

More serious side effects are very rare.


How to get your Covid-19 vaccination

There are several ways to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Newcastle if you are eligible:

  • book online now for appointments at a vaccination centre or at a community pharmacy, or call 119
  • wait to be contacted or invited by your GP surgery and book your appointments at your local GP surgery or vaccine centre
  • Accubook is an online system that Newcastle GP Services use to text out to patients and invite them to book an appointment. Invites are via text using GP lists and sent to those who are eligible
  • at a Vaccine Outreach Bus or pop-up site.  NHS staff are visiting local areas delivering vaccinations on a drop-in basis
  • SAIS, the school aged immunisation service is now delivering vaccines in the school setting

If you are eligible for two doses of the vaccine you will be offered the second dose 8 - 12 weeks after the first dose

You can also manage your COVID-19 vaccination appointments; view, cancel, and rebook your appointments at  Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines - NHS (  or call 119

To find out if you are eligible, visit:

For drop-in clinics visit:

If you need support booking your vaccine appointment our Welfare and Wellbeing team can help, call freephone 0800 170 7001


Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility

You can have a COVID-19 vaccine if:

  • you're pregnant or think you might be
  • you're breastfeeding
  • you're trying for a baby

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

There's no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant. There's no need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

Although the overall risk from COVID-19 disease in pregnant women and their new babies is low, in later pregnancy some women may become seriously unwell and need hospital treatment. Therefore, it is important that pregnant women have their vaccination as soon as they are invited.

Hospital admission and severe illness may be more common in pregnant women than in women of the same age who are not pregnant. Women with COVID-19 disease are more likely to have their babies early than women without COVID-19.

Pregnant women with underlying clinical conditions are at higher risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19.


The BBC Asian Network is helping the South Asian community to understand what the science says about COVID-19 vaccines for women trying for a baby, pregnant or breastfeeding in five languages: GujaratiPunjabiSylhetiTamil and Urdu.
See here for the full information
See here for a leaflet on advice about getting the vaccine for pregnant women


We encourage all pregnant or breastfeeding women to read the guidance from the UK Health Security Agency  and seek further guidance from their GP if they wish to.

An easy-read version of this leaflet is available for carers and people with a learning disability.

This leaflet can be download in the following languages:

EnglishAlbanianArabicBengaliBulgarianChineseEstonianFarsiGreekGujaratiHindiLatvianLithuanianPanjabiPolishPortuguese BrazilianRomanianRussianSomaliSpanishTurkishTwiUkrainian and Urdu.

Our colleagues at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Trust have a Facebook page ‘connie emidwife’ that you may wish to check out as they post lots of useful information here.

Children and young people aged 12 to 17

Eligibility and timing of vaccination

The NHS is offering COVID-19 vaccine to children and young people.

JCVI issues advice on second doses for 16- to 17-year-olds

The JCVI is advising that all 16 to 17 year olds who are not in an at-risk group should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The second vaccine dose should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose.

For those in this age group who have had COVID-19 infection, the second vaccine dose should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose, or 12 weeks following a positive COVID-19 test result – whichever is later.

  • A second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for young people aged 12 to 17 years is advised no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose.
  • 12–15-year-olds can be vaccinated at school or you can book an appointment on the NHS national booking system.  Not all walk-in sites can vaccinate children aged 12 to 15.

Some young people and children are at greater risk of serious illness if they catch Covid-19.  They will need 2 doses of vaccine, 8 weeks apart if either:

  • they live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • they have a condition that means they're at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19

These children will be contacted by the GP, as will children who live with anyone who is Clinically Vulnerable.


Advice on booster vaccines for aged 40+ and second doses for 16-17-year-olds


Which vaccine you will be offered?

Currently the vaccine licensed for children and young people is the Pfizer vaccine. This is what all children and young people will be offered.



You will probably want to share information about the vaccine with your parents and discuss it together.

If you are being offered the vaccination at school, you may be given a consent form that your parent or guardian should sign giving permission for you to have the vaccination.

The nurse or GP will discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with you at your appointment and will be able to answer any questions you may have.

For further information visit:

Young people and vaccines Toolkit.pdf



Booster jabs

Anyone over the age of 18years is eligible to receive a booster vaccine, 3months from their second dose of the vaccine.

In response to the changing risk posed by the Omicron variant, the booster will now be given no sooner than 3 months (91 days) after the primary course.

The overall intention of the measures advised above is to accelerate the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and raise levels of protection across the population.

Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant. This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.

The booster will help to reduce the risk of you needing admission to hospital due to COVID-19.

Like your previous doses, the vaccine will be given in your upper arm.  Booster vaccination should be with either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or the Moderna vaccine, as previously advised.

The NHS may contact you when it is your turn to have a booster. 

If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been shown to substantially increase antibody levels when offered as a booster dose and should be used with equal preference in the COVID-19 booster programme.

Continued efforts will be made to offer COVID-19 vaccination (first, second and booster doses) to adults who have yet to receive any COVID-19 vaccinations.



Which vaccine you will be offered

You will be given a booster dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Moderna vaccine is approved for use in people 18 years and over, and it can be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women following a discussion with their healthcare provider on the benefits and risks of vaccination.  Moderna-vaccine approved by UK regulator

These vaccines have already been given to millions of people in the UK. 

You will be offered the right vaccine for you, which may be the same or different from the vaccines that you had before.

Third dose vaccinations

What is a third dose?

Those with weakened immune systems are being offered a THIRD primary COVID-19 vaccination instead of just two doses.

The third vaccination is NOT the same as a booster

It is a top up because while the first two doses will have offered some protection, they may not have generated a full immune response as they do in those who do not have weakened immune systems.

Who will get a third vaccine dose?

Children aged 12 years and over and adults whose immune systems are weakened, which means they are less able to fight off infection.

When is the third dose given?

The third dose should be given at least eight weeks after the second dose, but timing will depend on any treatment you may be having.

If I have a third dose, will I need a booster?  A booster vaccination may also be needed later.

Why is this being called a third dose and not a booster?

A third dose is a top up for those who may not have had a full immune response from the first two doses. The aim is to give you a similar level of protection as someone without a weakened immune system who has had two doses.  A booster is an extra dose to help people who have had two doses retain their immunity, maximising their protection against COVID-19.

Even if you are vaccinated, you can still be infected with COVID-19 and pass it on to others. If you are identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 but you are not required to self-isolate, you can help protect others by following the guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread

From Tuesday 14th December people who have received two doses of a vaccine who are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case – whether Omicron or not – should take daily lateral flow tests to help minimise the spread of the virus.  

It aims to reduce pressures on people’s everyday lives by replacing the requirement for Omicron contacts to isolate for 10 days, while protecting the public by identifying asymptomatic cases and stopping the chains of transmission.  

Close contacts of people who test positive are at higher risk of getting COVID-19 and, with 1 in 3 people asymptomatic, daily testing will help ensure people are not unknowingly passing the virus on to others. 

In addition to daily LFDs close contacts should continue to take a precautionary approach. They are strongly advised to limit close contact with other people outside their household, especially in crowded or enclosed spaces and with anyone who is more vulnerable. They should also follow government guidance on wearing a face covering and working from home where possible.

As now, anyone whose rapid test comes back positive or who develops COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test to verify the result. If the PCR result comes back positive, contacts must self-isolate for 10 days from the day they took the positive rapid test or developed symptoms. They do not need to continue taking rapid tests during that 10-day isolation period. If the PCR result comes back negative, contacts can leave self-isolation but should continue to take rapid tests for the remainder of the 7 days and take a precautionary approach.

Unvaccinated adults are not eligible for this new daily testing policy, they must self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19

If you have been identified as a contact, you have been assessed as being at risk of developing COVID-19, even if you don’t currently have symptoms. You should follow all the guidance in this document.



If you develop symptoms at any time, even if these are mild, self-isolate immediately, arrange to have a COVID-19 PCR test and follow the guidance for people with COVID-19 symptoms.


I have received one or both of my COVID-19 vaccinations, do I still need to get tested?

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 must help us to prevent future outbreaks and to reduce risks.  From Tuesday 14th of December people who have received two doses of a vaccine who are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case – whether Omicron or not – should take daily lateral flow tests to help minimise the spread of the virus.

Unvaccinated adults are not eligible for this new daily testing policy, they must self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19

Testing, vaccination and continuing to follow good hand 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 several 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 follow self-isolation guidance Covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/when-to-self-isolate-and-what-to-do/


Why is my COVID-19 vaccination not showing on the GP practice system / NHS App?

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.

Please contact NGPS on 0191 233 6339 who should be able to help

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:

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


NHS App 

An individual’s vaccination status can be found within the NHS COVID Pass service of the NHS App. 

The registered person (or those acting on the behalf of the registered person) would be able to take this as proof of the individual’s vaccination status to verify that they have had a complete course of a COVID-19 vaccination. 

The NHS App is available to download – more information about the app and how to download it is available


Web-based solution 

The NHS COVID Pass can also be accessed via the NHS website. This displays the same information as is contained within the NHS app via an online web page – and can be accessed via Get your NHS COVID Pass

Non-digital solution: NHS COVID Pass letter 

An individual can get an NHS COVID Pass letter sent to them in the post, which shows that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. They can do this by: 

  • requesting a COVID Pass letter online via Get your NHS COVID Pass 
  • calling 119 (for those vaccinated in England only) 

This letter can then be presented by the individual to the care home to demonstrate their vaccination status. Individuals may need to wait five working days to receive this and should account for this to ensure they are able to demonstrate vaccination status by the time the regulations come into force. 

Individuals need to have an NHS number and have been vaccinated in England, but they do not need to be registered with a GP surgery or have an NHS login to get an NHS COVID Pass letter. 


Why you may need to show your COVID status

The NHS COVID Pass lets individuals share their COVID-19 vaccination records or test results in a secure way.

You may need to demonstrate your COVID status to:

  • work or volunteer in a care home regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) from 11 November 2021 (although you can use your self-certification until 31 March 2022 if you self-certify by 24 December 2021 - see the section below called ‘If you work or volunteer in a care home’)
  • be exempt from self-isolating for 7 days if you are a close contact of somebody with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • enter venues and events in England that require the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry
  • be exempt from quarantine and completing a test on day 8 if you travel from a country that’s not on the red list

If you’re unable to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for medical reasons

Some individuals are unable to be vaccinated and, in some cases, tested, for medical reasons. You can apply for proof that you have a medical reason why you should not be vaccinated or why you should not be vaccinated and tested.

If you get this proof of medical exemption, you’ll be able to use the domestic NHS COVID Pass wherever you need to prove your COVID-19 status within England.

If you are exempt from vaccination only, you are encouraged to take a test before entering a venue, to protect yourself and others. You can show a text or email confirmation of a negative test.

The NHS COVID Pass for people who are medically exempt from vaccinations

All exemptions will be assessed by your doctor, specialist clinician or midwife. The outcome will be sent directly back to you. If approved, your domestic NHS COVID Pass can then be used to prove your status.

The domestic NHS COVID Pass will look and work the same for people with medical exemptions as it will for people who are fully vaccinated. The pass will not show that you have a medical exemption.

You’ll also get a confirmation letter which you should keep for your records. You can use the letter to prove that you’re unable to get vaccinated if you work or volunteer in a care home or are travelling from a country that’s not on the red list. The letter will say that you’re medically unable to get vaccinated. The letter does not explain the reason you’re unable to vaccinate.

It’s up to other countries to decide whether residents in England with a medical exemption can follow the same rules for travel as those who are fully vaccinated.

Reasons you could get a medical exemption

The possible reasons for exemptions are limited. Examples that might be reasons for a medical exemption are:

  • people receiving end of life care where vaccination is not in the person’s best interests
  • people with learning disabilities, autism or a combination of impairments which mean that vaccination and testing result in distress and who cannot be vaccinated through reasonable adjustments such as an accessible environment
  • a person with severe allergies to all currently available vaccines
  • those who have had an adverse reaction to the first dose (for example, myocarditis)

Other medical conditions could also allow you to get a medical exemption.

You can also get a temporary exemption which will allow you to use the COVID Pass if you have a short-term medical condition or are pregnant and choose to take this option.

How to apply for and receive your COVID Pass when you’re unable to be vaccinated

A carer can apply on your behalf.

  1. Phone the NHS COVID Pass service on 119 to ask for an NHS COVID Pass medical exemptions application form.

You can also call to find out more information about NHS COVID Pass medical exemptions.

The call handler at the NHS COVID Pass service will ask you some questions. You will need to give:

  • your name
  • your date of birth
  • your NHS number (if you know it)
  • the name of your GP and/or specialist clinician

2. If you’re eligible to apply, you’ll get an application form by post.

You should not ask your GP for an application form. If you do go to your GP before you get your application form, you’ll be asked to call the NHS COVID Pass service on 119.

3. Return your application form to the GP or relevant clinician stated on the form.

Your application will be clinically reviewed by your doctor, specialist, or midwife. Your GP, specialist or midwife may ask to speak with you if needed, but you won’t need to book this when you submit your application.

4. You’ll automatically get the results of your application by post once your application has been processed.

You don’t need to contact your GP or the clinician reviewing your exemption unless they ask you to contact them.

5. If you get a medical exemption you can use the domestic NHS COVID Pass wherever you need to.

The pass won’t show others that you have a medical exemption, just that you have the NHS COVID Pass.

You can access your NHS COVID Pass digitally – on the NHS app or the NHS website.

You can also download it as a pdf.

To request a paper version of your pass, call 119.

Find out more about the NHS COVID Pass on the NHS website.

6. The clinical decision on your medical exemption is final. You can’t appeal the decision.

Receiving an exemption does not mean you are protected against COVID-19. You should self-isolate if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.



Previous incomplete vaccination

If the course of vaccination is interrupted or delayed, it should be resumed using the same vaccine, but the first dose should not be repeated. Evidence suggests that those who receive mixed vaccines make a good immune response, although rates of side effects are higher. Therefore, every effort should be made to determine which vaccine the individual received and to complete the primary course with the same vaccine.

For individuals who started the schedule and who attend for vaccination where the same vaccine is not considered suitable or if the first product received is unknown or not available, it is reasonable to offer one dose of the locally available product to complete the primary course. This option is preferred if the individual is likely to be at immediate high-risk or is considered unlikely to attend again.   Government/publications/covid-19-the-green-book-chapter-14a











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