Now that the NHS is rolling out a coronavirus vaccine, there are lots of questions we all have about what it might mean for us.
What do we know about a coronavirus vaccine and doses?
More than one vaccine has been approved for use in the UK. Each vaccine requires 2 doses to be fully effective.
If you’ve already received your first dose, it’s likely your appointment for the second dose will be postponed for another few weeks. However, everyone will receive 2 doses within 12 weeks and benefit from the maximum
protection of the vaccine.
The UK regulator and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (the independent experts that advise Government on all vaccines) have assessed all approved vaccines to be safe and able to offer a ‘high’ level of protection against becoming severely unwell with coronavirus.
Why do I have to wait longer for my second dose?
You will receive your second dose of the vaccine within 12 weeks of the first. This is because the evidence shows that 1 dose of a vaccine gives significant protection in the short term, and The Government has decided to
prioritise getting as many people as possible their first dose as quickly as they can.
Who’s eligible for a coronavirus vaccine?
Coronavirus vaccines will be made available to all adults at some point. While we don’t have enough information yet to know exactly when that might be, we do know it’s going to require patience as not everyone’s going to be able to get vaccinated at the same time.
To make sure those most in need of a vaccine receive one as soon as possible, the Joint Committee on
Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the Government to prioritise certain groups. Once these groups have been offered their vaccine, the JCVI will set out the priority order for the remaining adult
The initial priority groups are set out below, starting with those considered high priority:
• Older adults that are a resident in a care home and their care workers.
• Everyone aged 80+ and all health and social care workers.
• Everyone aged 75+.
• Everyone aged 70+ and all those considered clinically extremely vulnerable and have been shielding.
• Everyone aged 65+.
• Everyone aged 16-64 with an underlying health condition which puts them at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell, and unpaid carers.
• Everyone 60+.
• Everyone 55+.
• Everyone 50+.
Age is a major risk factor for coronavirus, so the oldest age groups and older people living in care homes are a top priority.
This priority list provides a framework. However, that’s not to say everyone single resident in a care home will receive a vaccine before any health workers receive theirs, for example. Due to factors such as transport, storage and vaccines that may require low temperatures, it might be this order might vary a bit in practice.
This guidance may change as more information becomes available on the individual vaccines and groups listed above.
How can I get a vaccine?
The NHS will contact you and invite you to book an appointment when it’s your turn. You may receive a phone call from your GP practice or local NHS service, but you may also be contacted by email, text message or by letter. So it’s useful to keep an eye out to make sure you receive the message (for example if you have a mobile phone but don’t typically use text messages). If your contact details have changed lately, now is a good time to make sure your GP practice has the most up to date information.
You may receive invitations to multiple sites, in which case you can choose where to get your vaccine. If you
receive a letter from the NHS to book online or over the phone and the only available locations are too far away or not possible to get to then you can keep trying to book as more options and appointments are being added. You can also wait to be contacted by your local GP or NHS service.
You’re able to book an appointment on behalf of someone else, but you’ll need their NHS number to do this, this will be included on letters received from the NHS.
Don’t worry if you haven’t been contacted yet, different areas are moving at different speeds and as more locations open more people will be contacted to book their appointment. As long as you’re registered with a GP and have up to date contact details you should receive an invitation in due course.
Vaccinations will take place at one of the following settings:
• at a hospital
• in the community – through GPs and pharmacists
• in specially designated vaccination centres.
The number of vaccination sites is increasing all the time to help vaccinate as many people as possible.
If you can’t travel to get a vaccine, you should still be contacted. The NHS is working on special arrangements for people who are housebound.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes. While there will be different vaccines available, no one will receive a vaccine that hasn’t been properly
approved and shown to be safe.
Each vaccine will have gone through trials to ensure the risk of serious side effects is low. However, as with other vaccines such as the flu vaccine, there are some common side effects. These could include:
• A sore, ‘heavy’ arm where you had your injection.
• Feeling tired.
• A headache.
• General achiness or mild flu-like symptoms.
• For a small proportion of people, their glands might swell. If this happens, you’re advised to take paracetamol.
If you do experience any of these side effects, they’re likely to last no longer than a week. But if they do get worse or you’re concerned you should call NHS 111 and explain your symptoms and let them know you’ve had a vaccination.
Any side effects you experience can also be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Yellow Card Scheme.
Serious reactions to vaccines are uncommon but can happen. The advice on allergies has been updated, it is now advised that anyone with a previous allergy to the ingredients of the vaccine should not receive it however those with other allergies such as food and other medicines are able to receive the vaccine. If you’re concerned, speak to your healthcare professional for further advice.
What don’t we know about the vaccine yet?
While there’s plenty we do know about a vaccine, there are still things we don’t know for sure.
• whether the vaccine prevents symptoms or also stops infections being transmitted from one person to another. As a result we will all need to continue to be careful even after we have received a vaccine
• how long immunity lasts after you’ve had a vaccination and how often you might need to get vaccinated.
Experts will monitor the vaccine and what happens next, but it may be some years before we get the answer.
What will happen at my vaccine appointment?
When you attend your appointment, you’ll be asked:
• How you’re feeling and if you have any symptoms that would stop you from being able to have the vaccine.
• About your medical history.
• If you have any questions.
• To consent to having the vaccine.
You’ll need to bring:
• A face covering unless you are exempt
• Your booking reference number if your appointment is at a large vaccination centre
• Proof of your occupation if you’re a health or care worker
What to expect:
• All places offering vaccines will have social distancing and other measures in place to keep you safe.
• Depending on which vaccine you receive, you may be asked to wait for 15 minutes after having the vaccination.
• You’ll be given a leaflet about what to expect after your vaccination to take home with you.
• You’ll be given a record card.
• Your next appointment will be in the period up to 12 weeks after your first vaccination and in the same place as your first one.
Keep your record card safe and make sure you attend your next appointment. After receiving your first and second doses of the vaccine you must continue to follow government COVID-19 rules and guidance. It’s important to return for your second dose as this maximises long term immunity.
I’m worried about vaccine scams, what should I look out for?
There have been some reports of scams related to the coronavirus vaccine.
The coronavirus vaccine in England will only be available via NHS England, you may be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy to receive your vaccine, this may be over the phone, via letter, email or text message. The vaccine is free on the NHS and no NHS organisation will ask for financial details including bank account or card details and PIN or passwords relating to your finance and banking.
Here are some more tips to help keep you safe:
• The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
• The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving license, bills or payslips.
• If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up.
• Forward any suspicious emails to email@example.com, where links to malicious content are analysed and blocked.
• Suspicious text messages can be forwarded free of charge to 7726.
If you believe you’re the victim of fraud, please report to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.policy.uk.
Once I’ve had the vaccine do I still need to follow the restrictions and government guidance?
Yes. While the vaccines are a positive step in allowing current restrictions to be eased and we’re all looking
forward to be able to see our friends and family again, we’re not yet sure whether having the vaccine prevents you from passing coronavirus onto others and so it’s very important that once you have either dose of the
vaccine that you continue to follow social distancing rules and any government guidance on restrictions.
• Self-isolating if you are required to do so, for more information see here.
• Maintaining social distancing measures from those not in your household or support bubble.
• Booking a test and self-isolating if you have symptoms of coronavirus.
• Wearing a face covering if you are able and where it is required to do so.
• Following Government guidance on meeting with others in your area.
Does a vaccine mean other restrictions will be lifted?
While measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and other restrictions will need to continue for a while after people start receiving a vaccine, once the more vulnerable members of the population are vaccinated we’ll likely be able to start returning to normal life.
I’ve had coronavirus. Do I still need to get a vaccine?
While your body may have built up some natural immunity to coronavirus if you’ve already had it, we don’t know for certain how long this immunity lasts or how well it protects you from catching it again.
This natural immunity from having an illness doesn’t usually last as long as the immunity of a vaccine, so it’s
recommended that if you’ve had coronavirus you do still get a vaccine when it becomes available to you.
How will consent for the vaccine be gained for people with reduced capacity to make
decisions about their healthcare?
Everyone who receives a coronavirus vaccine will be required to give consent. Some people who will be offered the vaccine may lack mental capacity to make decisions about vaccination – this may apply to your loved one.
If this is the case, the decision-maker – usually someone’s GP or the person giving the vaccine – will need to
follow the legal requirements set out under the Mental Capacity Act. You may already be familiar with this
process. If you would like some further guidance on this please contact our office and we will be happy to tell you the most recent policies and procedures on this matter.
How have the coronavirus vaccines been developed so quickly?
Developing a vaccine often takes some time. This is usually because research and pharmaceutical companies can’t commit to funding the whole process. There are often long gaps between phases while organisations wait for funding before moving to the next stage. Even when a vaccine is approved, it takes some time for
pharmaceutical companies to set up manufacturing and produce the vaccine in the quantities needed for public use.
As the coronavirus pandemic has had such an impact globally, researchers and pharmaceutical companies have worked together to reduce the amount of time spent waiting between the phases of development.
Funding and approval for these vaccines has been made a priority. Governments around the world have
‘pre-ordered’ doses which means pharmaceutical companies have been able to set up manufacturing for
vaccines earlier than usual.
The NHS is already preparing a vaccination programme so it can start vaccinating people as soon as vaccines are approved and available.
While this collaborative approach means vaccines will be available sooner, it doesn’t mean any shortcuts have been taken. Each vaccine that’s approved for use will have been through all the essential stages in its
Where can I get reliable information about the vaccine?
At Rivendell Care and Support, we get all of our information from reputable sources including the NHS, academic experts, scientific publications, pharmaceutical companies, The World Health Organisation and the organisation that approve the vaccines, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
But there is lots of misinformation out there. So how do you know what you can believe?
Do I know where this information has come from?
If the person you’re talking to, the social media post you’re reading, or the YouTube video you’re watching doesn’t say where they’ve found the information they’re sharing, it’s worth being sceptical.
We also know there is some false information around which has been deliberately created to worry or upset people. If you see something unnerving, run through the rest of this checklist to see if it is likely to be true.
Is it from a trusted source?
Is the information from a trusted news source that you are familiar with? There are lots of people claiming to be experts speaking about vaccines, but it may be hard to tell whether they are as knowledgeable as they say they are.
Who else is saying the same thing?
If you’ve found information that looks like it could be legitimate, but you aren’t sure, see if you can find it from other reputable and trusted sources. It is unlikely that only one source has a true story about coronavirus.
Is this new or old information?
This is a quick-changing area and researchers are improving knowledge about the coronavirus and the vaccines all the time. What may have been thought to be true a month ago may have been improved upon, disproven, or understood better by now.
How is Rivendell keeping safe and effective with the ongoing struggles of COVID-19?
Barnet local authority have provided us with weekly COVID tests for our care workers which are being monitored and recorded on our online portal.
Our dedication continues in protecting our service users and care workers against this pandemic. We are
constantly looking at ways of improving our service to make sure we continue to provide the highest standard of care as well as working in a safe environment. Since the third national lockdown, stricter measures have been put in place with our care worker and client ‘bubbles’ limiting the amount of crossover contact. To reassure you, our company policy throughout the pandemic has been to not take on any clients that are testing positive with COVID before joining the Rivendell family. The office are having regular meetings and are adapting practices on a daily basis to ensure that we are always operating in a safe, professional and caring way.
We are following the ever-changing COVID guidance from the Government, CQC and local authorities.
Infection Protection Control is still at the highest importance during these times. We are constantly ensuring that all care workers are up to date with online training with Infection prevention and control, as new practices and findings are being developed during the pandemic. Care Workers have online access to our policies and
procedures that are constantly being updated.
Rivendell continues to have a good source of PPE (personal protective equipment) including; gloves, face masks, hand sanitizers, aprons and face shields, which are a one use item when carrying out different tasks at a service user. We continue to ask each care worker for a weekly stock update to ensure that there is a constant supply.