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The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.

View up to date vaccine information on the NHS website and this latest information via local rollout.

WARNING: Please be aware of current scams around the COVID-19 vaccine

Latest videos and podcast

Information events

Together with our partners Healthwatch Richmond and RCVS, we are hosting a number of webinars with a panel of experts answering your questions on everything you need to know about the vaccine. 

Find out about the latest events and watch the videos of the previous events.

Vaccine information and questions

Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine

The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.

At this time, the vaccine is being offered to:

  • People aged 25 and over
  • People aged over 16 who are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • People aged over 16 who are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable)
  • People who live or work in care homes
  • Health and social care workers
  • People who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance – find out more

You will only be offered an appointment if you are in one of these priority groups.

If you are aged 25 or over and have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, you can contact the NHS to arrange a jab. The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking service which can be accessed at Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. 

If a suitable and convenient slot is not available people can also call their GP practice.

View how to contact NHS for a COVID jab if you are over-56s.

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.

Unpaid carers

Unpaid carers across Richmond upon Thames could be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine as part of the ongoing vaccination programme. Under priority group six which is currently rolling out, unpaid carers of family members and friends who receive carers allowance are eligible for the vaccine. It also applies to those who are the sole or primary carer for someone elderly or with a disability who are at an increased risk and considered clinically vulnerable.

If you think you are an eligible unpaid carer who has not been contacted for your coronavirus vaccination, speak to your GP surgery.

When will I be vaccinated?

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.

Is the vaccine safe?

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Any COVID-19 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, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or clotting problems, have been very rare.

To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:

Are there safety concerns, following the reports of extremely rare blood clots

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

The problem can also happen in people who have not been vaccinated and it's not yet clear why it affects some people. The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID19. For people aged 30 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any risk of clotting problems.

For people under 30 without other health conditions, it's currently advised that it's preferable to have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:

  • A severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
  • A headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
  • A headache that's unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
  • A rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain

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

What is the concern around the Astra Zeneca vaccine and how does it affect me?

Recently there have been reports of a very rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination. This is being carefully reviewed but the risk factors for this condition are not yet clear. Although this condition remains extremely rare there appears to be a higher risk in people who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Around 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of AZ vaccine doses given. This is seen slightly more often in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 2 weeks following vaccination. This condition can also occur naturally, and clotting problems are a common complication of COVID-19 infection. An increased risk has not yet been seen after other COVID-19 vaccines but is being carefully monitored.

If you are a healthy younger person aged 18 to 39:

  • The MHRA and the JCVI advises that all adults in this age group (including health and social care workers) should still receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines
  • The benefits of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition
  • You should also complete your course with the same vaccine you had for the first dose
  • Currently JCVI has advised that it is preferable for people under 30 to have a vaccine other than AZ
  • If you choose to have another COVID-19 vaccine you may have to wait to be protected
  • You may wish to go ahead with the AZ vaccination after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you

I’m under 30 and have had the AZ jab, what about the second dose?

  • If you have already had a first dose of AZ vaccine without suffering any serious side effects you should complete the course
  • This includes people aged 18 to 29 years who are health and social care workers, unpaid carers and family members of those who are immunosuppressed
  • It is expected that the first dose of the vaccine will have given you some protection, particularly against severe disease.

How effective are the vaccines? 

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.

Will the vaccines work with the new strains? 

Scientists continue to look carefully at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccines. There is no evidence currently that the new strains will be resistant to the vaccines we have, and vaccination remains the best protection we have against COVID-19. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective. 

Can I get tested for antibodies after vaccination?

The tests our local lab offers for COVID antibodies only show if a patient has had a previous infection. They do not confirm if a patient has developed antibodies following a vaccination.

Why are some second doses being brought forward?

People at greater risk of getting seriously ill due to COVID-19 are being offered their second vaccine earlier as part of plans to tackle the spread of the variant first identified in India. The NHS will contact those who should bring their appointment forward when they are able to do so – nobody needs to contact the NHS, wait for them to contact you.

Can I choose which vaccine I get? 

Any vaccines that the NHS provides has passed strict tests on their safety and effectiveness. However, the JCVI has advised that for adults under age 40 without underlying health conditions should receive an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – where available and only if this does not cause substantial delays in being vaccinated. 

What about the Moderna vaccine?

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.

Does the vaccine have any side effects?

Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

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

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to. You may get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery 1 or 2 days after having your vaccination. But if you have a high temperature that lasts longer than 2 days, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste you may have COVID-19. Stay at home and get a test. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.

Find out more about the side effects.

Does the vaccine include any parts from foetal or animal origin?

There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

Do I need to have the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?

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.

Do I have to follow the COVID-19 public health guidance, if I have received the vaccine?  

Yes. The vaccine remains one of the main ways the country will reduce the impact of the virus on people’s health and on our healthcare services. Experts know the vaccine reduces the chance of people suffering from COVID-19, and while they do not yet know if it will stop people catching or passing on the virus, they expect it will reduce this risk. 

Therefore, there is a small chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have had the vaccine. Therefore, those who have been vaccinated must follow the same public health guidance of hands, face, space, and limiting social mixing as they did before. This includes getting tested if you display COVID-19 symptoms.  

How can I get my COVID vaccination status for travel?

If you’re planning to travel abroad, you can get proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 via the NHS app, NHS website, or by calling 119. Please do not contact your GP about your vaccination status as GPs cannot provide letters showing your vaccine record. 

Some countries may also require a negative COVID-19 test result. Always check the entry requirements for the country you are visiting before you book your travel. Step-by-step travel advice can be found on GOV.UK.

What is the advice if you are of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant, you should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible for it. It's preferable for you to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine because they have been more widely used during pregnancy in other countries and have not caused any safety issues. You can also have the COVID-19 vaccine if you are breastfeeding. Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you. There's no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant. There's no need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

Read the latest COVID-19 vaccine advice if you are 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

View COVID-19 vaccine and fertility FAQs (pdf, 128 KB)

Can under 16 year olds be vaccinated?

Currently no vaccine has been approved for use in the UK for people under 16 years of age.  In rare circumstances, GPs may offer a vaccine to children who are at high risk from Covid-19, following a discussion of the benefits and risks with the patient and their parents or guardians.

I am a student – should I have the vaccine at University or at home?

Students will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when their age or clinical risk group become eligible. See our helpful fact sheet for more information on where students (including international students) can have their vaccine.  

Can Muslims have the vaccine under Islamic law?

Yes, after discussion with experts, the British Islamic Medical Association encourages individuals to take the COVID vaccine as advised by their medical practitioner.

Could the vaccine be less effective for Black people and other minority groups?

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.

Other information about the vaccine

Vaccine information in easy-read format

Vaccine information in other languages


Updated: 11 June 2021