The things you need to know about the Covid-19 vaccine
The Covid-19 NHS vaccination programme is rolling out at pace across the country. Over 60% of the population are now fully vaccinated and almost 1 million people in Essex have had their first dose.
The vaccine and other Covid-19 protective measures are our best defence against the virus, even if you have had Covid-19 previously. We know there are common misconceptions about the vaccine and below we address some of the most frequent myths and questions.
We encourage everyone to take up the vaccine when invited and have both doses so that we can Keep Covid in Check.
1. You still need to follow Covid-19 guidance once you’ve been vaccinated
Having both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will significantly reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying if you catch it. The vaccine will also reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others and so is the best way to protect those that are vulnerable and those who are unable to have the vaccine themselves. However, it should not replace other protective measures.
Whether you have had one, both or no doses of the vaccine, you must also continue to self-test regularly. There is still a chance you can catch and spread Covid-19 even if you’ve had the vaccine. If you’re not showing symptoms, testing is the only way to know if you have the virus.
2. The vaccines do not contain ingredients that make them unsuitable for some groups
The Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK do not contain egg, animal products or human cells. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains a very small amount of alcohol, which is less than in common foods, such as bread.
Religious organisations including the British Islamic Medical Association and the Catholic Pontifical Academy of Life have reviewed the Covid-19 vaccines and confirmed they are suitable for people who follow these faiths.
Learn more about what is in the Covid-19 vaccines and if you have any concerns about the ingredients used, please speak to your GP.
3. The vaccines have been developed quickly and safely
Experts across the world have worked together to make a safe and effective vaccine as quickly as possible. This work was informed by existing research on the same group of viruses that Covid-19 belongs to, therefore scientists did not have to start from scratch.
Every vaccine that has been approved for use in the UK has met very strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Ongoing studies of vaccines also continue after the vaccine has been authorised for use.
4. The vaccines have been tested thoroughly
Vaccines are only available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective. The standard for testing vaccines is higher than it is for most other medicines because they are one of the few medical treatments given to healthy people.
All Covid-19 vaccines that have or are being considered for use will have been through the necessary steps of safety testing by regulatory authorities. The global pandemic has also meant that we have been able to recruit patients to test the vaccine much more quickly than would normally be the case.
When a new medicine or vaccine is being tested as part of a clinical trial, there are also very strict rules and protocols that must be followed.
5. The vaccines can cause mild and temporary side effects
Millions of people in the UK and across the world have now been vaccinated with one of the three Covid-19 vaccines authorised for use in the UK. While they can cause mild and temporary side effects for some people, reports of serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction, are very rare.
There are measures in place to monitor any adverse effects of the vaccines and changes to the vaccine programme will be made if necessary, as has happened in the UK. The benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks. You are far more likely to become seriously unwell after developing a virus or disease than as a result of the vaccine intended to prevent it.
6. Vaccines and new Covid-19 variants
Research has shown the vaccines help to protect against new Covid-19 variants. While it is not yet known if the vaccines will protect against every new variant in the future, knowledge of the immune system leads scientists to assume that they will still be effective against minor variations of the virus.
The approved vaccines in the UK were tested in clinical trials before the new variants were widespread, but research is ongoing. Scientists may need to tweak the vaccines in the future to improve how effective they are against any new variants. This is normal practice for vaccines and something that happens each year with the flu vaccine.
7. Covid-19 vaccines do not affect fertility in men or women
There is no evidence to suggest that the Covid-19 vaccines have any effect on male or female fertility. You can also have the vaccine if you are pregnant or think you might be, you are breastfeeding, or you are a trying for a baby.
You do not 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’re pregnant, may get pregnant or are breastfeeding.
8. The vaccine can’t give you Covid-19
No whole Covid-19 virus or live virus is used in the vaccines. This means the vaccine cannot give you Covid-19 and does not make you infectious after you have had the vaccine.
Covid-19 vaccines are now available to everyone aged 18 and over. Find out more about how to book an appointment and remember to have both doses.