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Vaccines 

The booster vaccination programme

Health ministers in all UK nations have accepted the JCVI recommendation for offering booster doses to priority groups 1-9, in the same order as the first roll-out, with the addition of household members of severely immune-suppressed people. It will include people who have been identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable.

Eligible groups are:

  • Those living in residential care homes for older adults;
  • All adults aged 50 years or over;
  • Frontline health and social care workers;
  • All those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and adult carers;
  • and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

The booster dose should be given at least six months after the 2nd dose of Covid vaccine. Pfizer or a half dose of Moderna is recommended, regardless of which vaccine was given as a 1st and 2nd dose, as there is evidence that both provide a strong booster dose. Where neither can be offered, for example for those who have an allergy to either vaccine, the JCVI advise that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be used for those who received this vaccine for their first and second doses as it is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives in the UK and around the world.

These country specific websites provide more detail on how people can access a booster dose:

England

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales

 

We advise that those with CGD and X—linked carriers who are invited to have the booster vaccine to have the vaccine.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19.

Covid-19 booster vaccine

Booster vaccine doses will be available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have already had 2 doses of a vaccine.

The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have one.

Find out more about the COVID-19 booster vaccine

Vaccines for younger people 

People aged 18 and over

You can get your 1st and 2nd dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if you're aged 18 or over.

You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy now, or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service.

You can also book your vaccinations if you will turn 18 in the next 3 months.

Children and young people aged 12 to 17

Young people aged 16 and 17

You can get your 1st dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if you're aged 16 or 17.

The NHS will contact you when it's your turn to get the vaccine. You'll be invited to a local NHS service such as a GP surgery.

You cannot book your appointment online.

Some walk-in COVID-19 vaccination sites are offering the vaccine to people aged 16 and 17. You can check if a site is available near you.

Children aged 12 to 15

All children aged 12 to 15 will be offered a 1st dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Parents and guardians will get a letter with information about when the vaccine will be offered.

Most children will be given their vaccine at school.

For full details on how to get your vaccine and other vaccine information visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/who-can-get-the-vaccine/ 

 

Vaccine FAQS

Q. What is being done to develop treatments and a vaccine against COVID-19 and how long is this going to take?

A. Research is happening at breakneck speed with collaborative efforts being forged between companies, laboratories and researchers around the world.

There is an “adaptive” protocol national trial called ‘RECOVER’, which changes as new treatments emerge.  There are trials of anti-virals and trials of potential vaccines are already in place.  Several companies are developing or testing currently available anti-virals against the COVID-19 virus, this includes testing those that were found to be effective against the SARS virus and EBOLA. Another research avenue is synthetically engineering antibodies that could be able to block the virus infecting human cells.  You can find out how the trials are progressing worldwide using this New York Times COVID vaccine tracker.  This BBC film is also helpful in explaining the process of vaccine development and how close we are to a vaccine being launched.

Q. Should I contact my immunology centre or GP about getting the COVID vaccination?

A. No, all services are over stretched. Wait to be contacted by the NHS, your NHS number is being used to track people wherever you are vaccinated. In some areas you will be contacted by a Hub not your own GP, but they will contact you. Your immunology centre will not have any vaccine and will not have a means to liaise with the vaccination hubs.

Q. Who will let me know when I can get the COVID vaccine?

A. The NHS is working through a priority list as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). You SHOULD NOT contact the NHS or your local GP surgery about the COVID vaccination. The NHS will let you know when it is your turn to have the vaccine.  This will be in the form of a letter/email from your GP or the NHS. It will include all the information you need to book appointments, including your NHS number.
Do not respond to texts, emails or messages that are not from your GP/NHS or that ask for personal details including bank details. There are a number of scams using COVID vaccination to get peoples' details. You will either be sent an appointment or there will be a web booking system, but you will not have to enter personal details.

 

Q. What do I need to bring with me to the vaccination centre?

A. If you are taking medication, please bring a list of these with you to the vaccination centre. Do not bring the medicines themselves.

If you are taking a blood thinner called 'warfarin' you will also be going for regular blood tests to monitor the thickness of your blood using a test called INR. The INR test result is a number (for example 2.5). Please make sure you know your latest INR reading and when that was last checked.  If you don't know this, you can get if from your GP surgery.

Q. Are there any side effects?

A. Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, lasting no longer than a week, and not everyone gets them. These may include: 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. If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.

Read about the coronavirus vaccines at

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

You can report side effects at Yellow Card Scheme - MHRA

Q. Can I do what I want after I have been vaccinated?

A. It is essential that everyone continues to stay at home whether they have had the vaccine or not.  We do not know how much protection people with certain types of immunodeficiency will have so it's absolutely essential that you continue to follow any shielding guidance you have been given.   It's tough but really important. Continue to follow social distancing guidance; wear a face covering and remember hands, face, space and cut down on your interactions with other people.

Q. Can I catch COVID from the vaccines?

A. You cannot catch COVID from the vaccines. But it is possible to have caught COVID and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment. If you have any of the symptoms of COVID, stay at home and arrange to have a test.  If you need more information on symptoms visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-COVID-19/symptoms/

Q. Can I be vaccinated if I have had a severe allergy?

A. The Pfizer vaccine is not recommended for people who have had anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) to drugs or vaccines.  It is still recommended when there is a history of allergy without anaphylaxis, but this would be discussed with you.  Every person attending for vaccination will be asked. If you cannot have the Pfizer vaccine, you will be added to a wait list for the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

Q. Do I need to be registered with a GP to get the vaccine?

A. To get the vaccine, you will need to be registered with a GP surgery. If you aren't you will have to get registered or wait until the vaccine is offered more widely at other locations.

Q. Can I have pay for a private COVID vaccination?

A. COVID vaccines will ONLY be available through the NHS.

Q.  Do I have a choice about what COVID vaccine I’ll receive?  

A.  The vaccine you will be offered will be dependent largely on the supplies available from the manufacturers and the logistics of the roll out of the COVID vaccine programme.  

Q. It is good news about the RNA based vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech indicates, but is this suitable for people with CGD and X-linked carriers?

A.  There is no reason to believe that people with CGD and X-linked carriers wouldn’t have a normal vaccine response but this vaccine represents a new class of vaccine which relies on translation of injected mRNA into SARS CoV 2 spike protein and for the protein to then be presented to the immune system by antigen presenting cells. Ultimately it will be important to have evidence of vaccine immunogenicity in patients with NADPH oxidase defects.

Q.  Are any of the vaccines being developed for COVID, live vaccines?

A.  None of the COVID vaccines being developed are live. It is important to emphasise that CGD patients, and carriers, where advised medically, should receive all vaccines except those specifically contraindicated (e.g., live BCG, live Salmonella). Particularly regarding the different types of COVID vaccine (and flu vaccines), they are not contraindicated.

Q.Would the pneumonia jab help me to avoid COVID secondary infections?  Is this the flu jab?

A.The flu and pneumonia jabs are different and are effective against different microorganisms. Pneumonia jab is effective against Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and the flu vaccine against different strains of the flu virus. See https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/how-flu-vaccine-works/

Q.  I have had the pneumonia vaccine. Does that give me any protection against COVID-19?

A. This vaccine specifically protects against infection with a bacterium called pneumococcus, which can cause a secondary bacterial chest infection in someone who has a viral pneumonia, but the vaccine does not protect against coronavirus itself.

Please note the vaccines for flu and pneumonia will not offer any protection against COVID.

Q. Does having a flu vaccine weaken an elderly immune system leaving you more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection?

A. There is no known link to flu vaccines "weakening" immune systems and no known link between COVID and influenza other than both are viruses and like many cough and cold viruses started circulating in the winter months.  The combination of COVID and flu in the elderly would likely be a very bad one, so we continue to encourage uptake of flu vaccine as a source of protection when possible.

 

Q.  Have any of the vaccine trials involved people with CGD or other primary immunodeficiencies? 

A.  We do not know precisely the mix of people who have taken part in the clinical trials but people affected by immunodeficiency would not be eligible to take part in a vaccine trial in the way that they are conventionally set up.

Q.  Is there any evidence about the effectiveness of the RNA vaccines for primary immunodeficiency patients?

A.  In short, no, because these patients haven't been enrolled in the trials.  Our experience to date of COVID-19 infection suggests that the antibody response is at least as important as T-cell responses for clearing this virus. The pre-clinical vaccine trial data suggests that antibody is essential for preventing primary infection. There will be more research data available about this over the coming months.

Q.  How safe are the vaccines and who will monitor their safety?

A.  All vaccines undergo extensive safety testing and must meet exacting standards to progress through the different stages of clinical trials. Their use must be approved and licensed before their use through expert review of all trial data through the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). They check that the trial meets the necessary efficacy and safety levels. You can find out more about this process at http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vaccine-development

Q.  When will we know if the vaccines are working for the general population?

A.  The government is keeping tabs on infection by age and location.  We should start to see a fall in cases and hospitalisation in those groups targeted by the vaccine first within 2 months of the vaccination roll-out.

Q.  How will the safety of the vaccines be monitored after the vaccination programmes start?

A.  The safety of the vaccines will be monitored on an ongoing basis, as with all licensed drugs. This is undertaken by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) through the Yellow Card Scheme. Reports of suspected side effects are sent to the MHRA by drug companies (who are obliged to pass on any reports of suspected side effects that are defined as serious), health professionals, and patients themselves.

The data are evaluated each week, and the reported side effects are compared against the expected side effects as detailed in the information sheet for the vaccine. If a previously unidentified reaction emerges, or the frequency of reactions is not in line with what is expected, then the MHRA will investigate carefully. What happens next depends on the kind of side effect identified, but options include insisting that details of the new side effect are given in the product information leaflet or giving out warnings identifying groups of patients who should not be given the vaccine. In rare circumstances, the vaccine may be withdrawn from use.

Q.  Who decides on the priority list for a COVID vaccination programme?

A.  The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provides advice to the Government about this. They examine data on who suffers the worst outcomes from coronavirus and who is at highest risk of death.  More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-25-september-2020

Q.  Who will be prioritised for the COVID vaccination programme?

A.  Age is, by far, the biggest risk factor for COVID so older age groups will be targeted first.

The current JCVI guidance says the order of priority would be as below:

This priority list is as follows:

  • residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  • 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 clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  • all those 65 years of age and over
  • all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  • all those 60 years of age and over
  • all those 55 years of age and over
  • all those 50 years of age and over

It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID-19.

Q.  How long will it take for herd immunity to COVID-19 to develop within the UK population?

A.  Herd immunity usually requires 60-70% of the population to have had the infection or be vaccinated, so in the UK that is approximately 40 million people.

Q.  Will the vaccines stop the spread of COVID?

A.  It is unlikely that a vaccination programme will be able to fully stop the spread of the COVID virus unless we see high level uptake of a highly effective vaccine. The disease may well become endemic in the global population like flu and have to be managed on a yearly basis through vaccination programmes.  This means that everyone, and most importantly those clinically vulnerable should continue to take measures to protect themselves from catching the virus.

Q.  How can I find out more about the development of COVID vaccines and vaccination programmes?

A.  These websites may be helpful:

https://wellcome.ac.uk/news/how-can-we-develop-covid-19-vaccine-quickly

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/covid-19/gp-practices/covid-19-vaccination-programme

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/about-vaccines.html 

Page updated 22 November 2021

Useful info/sites:

Video from Public Health England : 3 min video from PHE on vaccine process

UK Government site : COVID Vaccine

USA FDA (Food & Drug Administration) :  COVID Vaccines

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention : Facts about COVID Vaccines