Two approved Covid vaccines are being rolled out across the UK, so when might you get one?
The Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the UK is entering its next phase, after everyone in the top four priority groups was offered a jab.
More than 17.7 million people have had a first vaccine dose – equivalent to one in three adults in the UK.
Most frontline health and social care staff, elderly care home residents, clinically extremely vulnerable people and over-70s have now been vaccinated.
They were first in line because of their risk from the virus, making up the top four in a list of nine high-priority groups.
Many areas are now inviting over-60s, as well as anyone over 16 with a health condition which increases their risk.
Adult carers of disabled people and younger adults in care homes are also being offered jabs.
Some over-50s are being vaccinated now along with people even younger, if they have underlying health conditions.
About 17 million people are expected to be offered a jab by the start of May.
Vaccinating people in all nine groups should protect around 99% of those most at risk of dying.
Police officers and teachers have not been given priority. They will be vaccinated in line with their age group.
Any change to priorities will be decided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The Oxford vaccine offers a good level of protection against the ‘Kent’ variant now dominant in the UK.
Early research on other vaccines, including Pfizer, suggest they also protect against this variant.
All have been shown to be effective at preventing people from becoming seriously ill and dying from Covid-19.
There are concerns that Covid vaccines may not work as well against variants spotted in South Africa and Brazil, and in some UK variants too.
Nonetheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the Oxford vaccine should still be used in countries where these variants are present.
People should feel confident about getting vaccinated, the government’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van Tam, has said.
The “immediate threat” is from the Kent variant, he said, and there is “plenty of evidence” the vaccines are effective against that.
New versions of the vaccines are already being worked on and the plan is to have them ready by the autumn.
They are likely to be offered as a routine booster against Covid.
The approved vaccines require two doses to provide the best protection against Covid.
In the UK, people were initially told they would get a second dose three to four weeks after the first. But to ensure a speedy roll-out, the UK’s chief medical officers extended the gap to 12 weeks.
This approach is now backed by the WHO which says giving two doses 8-12 weeks apart increases the Oxford vaccine’s effectiveness and provides greater protection.
A recent study found the Oxford vaccine remained 76% effective during the three months after the first dose. There was also evidence it could reduce the spread of the virus.
However, some doctors are worried that a long gap between doses of the Pfizer vaccine could make it less effective.
You’ll be invited to book an appointment as soon as it’s your turn, by phone or letter.
Thousands of vaccination sites are operating in places including hospital hubs, GP surgeries, pharmacies and temporary vaccination centres.
The official guidance says everyone should get the same vaccine for both doses.
In very rare circumstances – if only one vaccine is available, or it’s not known which was given for the first dose – a different vaccine can be used.
However, a UK trial is investigating whether mixing vaccines could offer better protection than two doses of the same one.
The UK has ordered seven vaccines and expects to receive 407 million doses – more than enough for every adult to receive two.
The aim is to vaccinate as many people as possible over the age of 18.
The vaccines have not been tested in children so they won’t receive them until more research has been carried out.
Getting a Covid vaccine is not compulsory because experts say this wouldn’t help create public confidence.
A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction – known as anaphylaxis – when vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
You should discuss any serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.
Most people will not be affected in any way, although mild side-effects are possible.
Vaccination should only be considered for pregnant women when the potential benefits outweigh any potential risks.
This may be where the risk of catching coronavirus is high, or where underlying health conditions mean a high risk of Covid complications.
There are no specific safety concerns with the vaccines – but they were not tested on pregnant women.
Women who are breastfeeding can be given either vaccine.
No – this vaccine is being rolled out free to people via the NHS. You can’t jump the queue by paying.
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