COVID-19 vaccine: what you need to know

Take a look at what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccination programme, including how you will know when it's your turn, where to go, and why it's important.
A young woman wearing in mask is being shown vaccine information by an older nurse

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 vaccine

Here are some FAQs to help you get the information you need to know about the biggest vaccination programme in history. 

When will I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

All adults in England have now been offered at least one dose of a COVID -19 vaccine. 

All those aged 18 or over can book their vaccination through the NHS booking service. You can also call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

All 16 and 17 year olds will be offered one jab dose of the vaccine by Monday 23 August. If you are aged 16 or 17 years old, you should wait to be contacted by your GP by text or letter to arrange an appointment at your GP or go to an eligible pop-up vaccine centre.

Official advice is that the following groups should also be offered vaccines:

  • Children aged 12 to 15 years with:
    • Severe neuro-disabilities
    • Down’s syndrome
    • Underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression
    • Profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD)
    • Severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register.
  • Children and young people aged 12 years and over who are household contacts of vulnerable persons should also be offered a COVID-19 vaccination.

How do I book my vaccine?

You will be able to book your vaccination through the NHS booking service. You can also call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. 

How might I be contacted to get my vaccination?

  1. Local hospital services - you might be contacted either to have the vaccine as an inpatient or at an outpatient appointment.
  2. Local GP services - practices in your area are working together to contact and offer the vaccine to as many people as possible. This may be at a different surgery than you usually go to, or at a venue that has been set up specially to deliver vaccines. 
  3. Through your care home - GPs and their teams are also arranging to vaccinate care home residents directly, in their homes.

Where do I go to get my vaccine when I’m contacted?

You will be given information by the NHS about where you need to go for your vaccination appointment(s) when contacted. If the option given is not suitable, you can request for a more local centre for your appointment or log onto the website at a later time to see if other places have become available.

In Wokingham Borough our nearest mass vaccination site is in Reading town centre 

We also have a number of pop up vaccination sites where you don't need to book an appointment. You can find details of your nearest site here 

How long between my first and second dose of the vaccine?

You will receive your second dose up to 8-12 weeks after the first, regardless of the vaccine type. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.

How do I book my second dose of the vaccine?

You'll need to book a 2nd dose for 8 weeks after your 1st dose.

Are there any side effects?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them.

You should not have the vaccine if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction to:

  • any of the ingredients in the vaccine
  • a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine

Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

Did you have side effects from the vaccine?

To help the MHRA collect and monitor information in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine, you can report your symptoms.

Report symptoms

I'm pregnant, can I still get the vaccine?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.

There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of COVID-19 vaccines in relation to pregnancy. 

It is preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. There is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.

Women who are planning pregnancy, are in the immediate postpartum or are breastfeeding can be vaccinated with any vaccine, depending on their age and clinical risk group.

Do I have to have the COVID-19 vaccine even though I've already had COVID-19?

An effective vaccine is the best way to protect people from COVID-19, reduce hospitalisations and save lives. Vaccines are the only way to eradicate disease. 

People that have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated. It is still just as important for those who have already had COVID-19 as it is for those who haven’t.  

Is the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory?

There are no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory for the general population. Following consultation earlier this year, from October 2021 people who work in care homes – both staff and volunteers – will need to be fully vaccinated. There are some exemptions and the requirement to be fully vaccinated will not extend to people who are visiting friends and families.

Do I need to self-isolate if I'm fully vaccinated?

In England from 16 August, if you’re fully vaccinated or under 18, you will not need to self-isolate following close contact with someone who has COVID-19. You’ll still need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it’s positive.

How do I prove my vaccine status?

An NHS COVID Pass shows your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination details or test results. This is your COVID-19 status. You may be asked to show your pass to get into some events, where the COVID Pass is being trialed, or to travel abroad.

A digital COVID pass is available through the NHS App or the NHS website. A paper version is also available online.

What does a vaccine do?

Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from diseases. It's much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once a vaccine has trained your immune system to know how to fight a disease, it can often protect you for many years. 

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are now safer than ever before. Any vaccine must first go through the usual rigorous testing and development process and be shown to strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness before it can be deployed.

How do I feedback or complain about the NHS COVID-19 vaccine service?

If you are unhappy with the service you have received, it is important to let the NHS know. To provide feedback, raise a concern or make a complaint, please email  england.contactus@nhs.net

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