by Phil Day


5 February 2021



Your guide to the Coronavirus Vaccination programme
By Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist – Pharmacy2U

As we reported a few weeks ago, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme has brought some hope to those who want a holiday this year, with 95% of people hoping for at least one overseas holiday.

With more than 12 million people vaccinated already we spoke to Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, to provide all the information you need about the biggest vaccination programme in UK history.


Are there different kinds of vaccines?


There have now been three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK.

These are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, and thirdly, the most recent vaccine to be approved is the Moderna vaccine.

Here I explain in more detail about each of the vaccines, including how they will be rolled out nationwide.

Firstly, all three vaccines have been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after meeting strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

Pfizer – BioNTech vaccine

The vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech was the first vaccine to be approved for use in the UK on the 2nd December 2020 with the UK set to receive 40 million doses and has already started to be given to patients.

Oxford University – AstraZeneca vaccine

This vaccine, developed by a team at Oxford University and AstraZeneca, was the second vaccine to be approved for use in the UK on the 30th December 2020. The UK has ordered 100 million doses, which have already started to be given to patients.

Moderna Vaccine

The vaccine made by US company Moderna is the latest vaccine to be approved by the UK on the 8th January 2021.

However, while the UK have ordered 17 million doses, the supply is not expected to be available until the spring.


How effective are the vaccines?


The two currently available vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca) have an efficacy of between 70% and 90% at preventing COVID-19 symptoms, when measured 3 weeks after the first injection is given; however they are also between 95% and 100% effective at preventing severe symptoms and hospitalisation.

After the second dose of the vaccine, the efficacy increases further, and the duration of its effect is also increased.

However, while the vaccine can prevent you from getting COVID symptoms, we don’t yet know if it also stops you from spreading the virus to other people, so it’s still important to follow social distancing guidance, and cover your nose and mouth in places where you are near other people.


How are the vaccines given?


All three vaccines require patients to receive two doses by an injection given in the deltoid muscle in the upper arm.

The second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is given between 3 and 12 weeks after the first, and the Moderna vaccine is recommended to have an interval of 28 days between the first and second doses.


Why should I get the vaccine?


COVID-19 can have serious, life threatening complications and there is no way to know how you would be affected if you caught coronavirus.

The vaccine is very likely to prevent you from getting COVID-19 symptoms if you are exposed to the virus, and even if you do catch the virus and display symptoms, the vaccine is extremely likely to stop them being so bad that you require a trip to hospital.


Is there any reason why someone shouldn’t get the vaccine?


People who have had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine previously should not have this vaccination.

Pregnant women, unless they are at a high risk, should also wait until their pregnancy is over, or until the NHS guidance changes. The vaccine is being rolled out by the NHS to the highest priority groups first, so you may need to wait a while before being invited for vaccination.

More advice for women of childbearing age, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding can be found here.


Who is getting the COVID-19 vaccine first?


The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the Government on the groups that should be prioritised for vaccination, with those most at risk of catching coronavirus and suffering serious complications to be vaccinated first.

The eligible groups for the vaccination starting with the highest priority are shown below.

  • Older adults resident in care homes and care home workers
  • All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  • All those 75 years of age and over
  • All those 70 years of age and over and those who were classed clinically extremely vulnerable
  • All those 65 years of age and over
  • People between 16-64 years of age with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk (see conditions here)
  • All those 60 years of age and over
  • All those 55 years of age and over
  • All those 50 years of age and over

More details on the priority groups for COVID-19 vaccinations can be found here.


How can I get a vaccine?


The NHS will contact you and invite you to book an appointment when it is your turn to have the vaccine.

This could be through a phone call from your GP practice or through an email, text message or letter.

It is a good idea to make sure your GP practice has your most up to date contact information and it is important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before they have contacted you.


What can I expect after I have been vaccinated?


You will need to receive two doses of a vaccine to be fully protected.

This will be between three and twelve weeks following your first dose and you should receive a card with the date of your next vaccination appointment.

Once you have been vaccinated you should still continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands, along with following any guidance in your area.

While you stay safe at home, Pharmacy2U can deliver your NHS repeat prescriptions for free.

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We know you may still be concerned how Coronavirus may impact your travel plans, so it’s important to ensure you’re fully protected. Read our page on Travel Insurance for Coronavirus or get a quote using the link on the right.

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