Vaccine Questions and Answers

Covid-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions and answers gathered across the whole of the Humber region, to help you with any queries or concerns you have around the COVID-19 vaccine.

Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe? 

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.   

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Any COVID-19 vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.

Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.

So far, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or clotting problems, have been very rare.

To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:


Are there any side effects?  

These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use.  

For these vaccines, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the tens of thousands of people involved in trials.    

Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as: a sore arm where the needle went in, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy, or feeling or being sick.

All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA. 

More information on possible side effects can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/

Advice if you're of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding

There have been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in relation to pregnancy and the JCVI advises 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.

More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-issues-new-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-for-pregnant-women

You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you're breastfeeding.

Reports of extremely rare blood clots

The MHRA is carrying out a detailed review of reports of an extremely rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The problem can also happen in people who have not been vaccinated and it's not yet clear why it affects some people.

The benefits of having the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people. Trials have shown that no-one who received the Oxford vaccine was hospitalised or became seriously ill due to Covid.

The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. For people aged 30 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any risk of clotting problems.

For people under 30 without other health conditions, it's currently advised that it's preferable to have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

All those who have had a first dose of the AZ vaccination should have a second dose of the AZ vaccine unless they have experienced clotting from the first dose.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-and-blood-clotting/covid-19-vaccination-and-blood-clotting

Why is the NHS postponing second doses?

The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed a longer timeframe between first and second doses so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection after two weeks – 89% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 74% for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

This decision will allow the NHS to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.

Getting both doses remains important so the NHS would urge people to return for it at the right time.

Can people pick what vaccine they want?  

You will not be given a choice of vaccine, however all of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection. Both vaccines prevent serious illness and reduce the risk of hospitalisation.

How is the NHS ensuring that the vaccine won't be wasted?  

The NHS plans are based around ensuring that waste is minimised. For example, this includes grouping vaccinations in one GP practice or high-volume sites on behalf of a few Primary Care Networks or GP surgeries, and ensuring that the numbers of people each facility is able to see is in line with the stock they receive. 

To help us avoid any vaccine going to waste, we would encourage everybody who is invited by the NHS to do everything they can to attend their appointment at the vaccination site they are offered.  At times, where necessary and to minimise Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine wastage, people in the next JCVI priority patient cohorts may also be offered a vaccination at short notice.


Vaccine priority

Who gets the vaccine first?  

People are being vaccinated according to priority order set by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which published its detailed advice here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-30-december-2020

In the frst phase of the programme the JCVI recommended that the NHS offers vaccines to those at highest risk of catching the infection and of sufering serious complications if they catch the infection. This includes older adults, frontline health and social care workers, care home residents and staf, and those with certain clinical conditions.

In East Riding of Yorkshire, and across the wider Humber, Coast and Vale region, we successfully met the government target and have offered all of those within the nine priority groups a first dose of the vaccine.

*****Anyone over 50 or who is clinically extremely vulnerable is now being asked to contact the NHS to book a vaccination*****

The vaccine is now being ofered to people at lower risk from the complications of COVID-19. You are still at risk of catching the infection and passing it on to others. For most younger people COVID-19 is usually a milder illness that rarely leads to complications. For a few people the symptoms may last for longer than the usual two to three weeks. The vaccination will help to protect you against COVID-19. In the second phase of the programme the vaccine will be ofered to those under 50 years old in the following order:

  • 40 - 49 years
  • 30 - 39 years
  • 18 years and over

We are now inviting over 50s to have their vaccine at one of the region’s large scale vaccination centres (Askham Bar in York or Hull City Hall). Eligible people can book their appointment by contacting the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. Those who cannot do it online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

The booking system allows patients to pick a convenient location and time. The phone line can get very busy, so please try to ring later in the day if you can’t get through straight away. British Sign Language, text relay and interpreter services are available. If you can’t book any slots in your preferred location, please try again later, when more appointments are added to the system.

Alternatively, if travelling to one of the sites available via the national booking system is difficult, people can choose to wait until their local GP-led vaccination services contact them to have their vaccine closer to home. 

If a household has a priority group member, such as an NHS frontline worker or vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?   

These decisions are for the JCVI. Their current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right. 


Vaccine services locations and progress so far

Where are vaccination sites in my local area?

  • East Riding of Yorkshire: Brough Surgery, Church View Surgery, Bartholomew Medical Practice, Alfred Bean Hospital, Beverley Race Course, Humber Trust Headquarters and Medical Centre Bridlington - Practice 3
  • Hull: KCOM Stadium, Alf Marshall Community Centre, Diadem Medical Practice, East Hull Family Practice and Kingswood Medical Centre 
  • North East Lincolnshire: Beacon Medical, Pilgrim Primary Care Centre, Scartho Medical Centre, Open Door
  • North Lincolnshire: Cedar Medical Practice, Riverside Surgery, South Axholme Practice and The Central Surgery Barton
  • North Yorkshire: Central Healthcare (Lawrence House), Derwent Practice, Filey Surgery, The Forum (Northallerton), Tennants Auction House (Layburn), The Pavillion (Harrogate) and Whitby Pavillion
  • Vale of York: Haxby Health Centre, Pickering Medical Practice, Posterngate Surgery, Tadcaster Health Centre and Askham Bar Park and Ride

You do not need to contact your local GP to ask for the vaccine. They will let you know when it’s your turn.

How were these local vaccination sites chosen?

GP Practices are working together through their Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and each PCN has one designated site that has been approved by NHS England for administering the vaccination for patients across all of their practices.  We would encourage everybody who is contacted by their local GP practice, and is able to do so, to attend the vaccination centre they are offered.  However, we acknowledge that, for some patients, travelling to some centres is more difficult than for others and a small number of patients may therefore be offered a vaccination at their local GP practice when it is clinically safe and possible to do so, although patients may have to wait for supply of the right type of vaccine.  

Where are the hospital hub sites?

  • Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Humber NHS Teaching Foundation Trust
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust
  • Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust
  • York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

You might be contacted to have the vaccination at a hospital hub as an inpatient or outpatient. If you have had your first jab, you will be contacted about getting your second.

Where are the nearest large vaccination sites?

  • Hull City Hall in Hull
  • Askham Bar Park and Ride in York
  • Scunthorpe Baths Hall, Doncaster Road, Scunthorpe

Why can’t I get an appointment at the nearest vaccination centre?

The large vaccination centres are vaccinating thousands of people every day, however varying supply of the vaccine is an issue we’ve had to manage from the beginning of the programme. This is the limiting factor on how many people we can vaccinate in a week. As appointments become available they are uploaded onto the national booking system but we are aware that slots are getting filled very quickly, once all of the available appointment slots have been booked you might need to wait a short while before trying to book at your local centre again. Please be patient we are vaccinating more and more people every week and as expected vaccine supply increases in March, we're planning for further acceleration as we head towards Easter.

Where are the nearest pharmacy hubs?

  • Marton Road Pharmacy, 151 Marton Road, Bridlington
  • BA Whittle Chemist, 130 Newbegin, Hornsea
  • Hull Late Night Pharmacy, 124-127 Witham, Hull
  • Orchard 2000 Pharmacy, 480 Hall Road, Hull
  • Sutton Manor Pharmacy, St Ives Close, Wawne Road, Hull
  • Ancora Healthcare Limited in Scunthorpe
  • Birkwood Pharmacy, Primary Care Centre, Grimsby
  • Cottingham Pharmacy, 342 Wellington Street, Grimsby
  • Drugs4Delivery, Unit 4, Acorn Business Park, Moss Road, Grimsby
  • Citywide Health COVID Vaccination Clinic, 6 Wyre Court, Haxby

This list is correct as of 2 April 2021. The information on local vaccination services and hospital hubs is published and regularly updated on the NHS England website www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/vaccination-sites/

Why have I received a letter inviting me to a large vaccination centre when there is a local site near me?

People who are eligible and haven’t already been vaccinated may receive a letter to book an appointment in a large vaccination centre – either online or by phone.  If you can’t travel to one of these, or there is another reason you can’t book an appointment, you can choose to wait until the local GP service contacts you. The number of locations will increase over the coming months.

How will I be invited to have my vaccine?

People in the priority groups are being contacted by the NHS in a range of ways to book an appointment.

  • People may receive a letter from the National NHS Vaccination Booking Service offering them to book their vaccine with the national system at a nearby vaccination centre or a community pharmacy. If you have not already got an appointment elsewhere, you can book in this way. This however does not exclude you from the local general practice/Primary Care Network (PCN) invitations for vaccination.
  • If you are unable to travel to one of the locations offered by the national letter or cannot book this way, then you can choose to wait until the local GP/PCN service contacts you. They will contact people in the eligible groups separately and invite them to book an appointment under the local booking system.
  • People do not need to contact their GP as they will be contacted when it’s their turn. If you are in one of these groups you will be contacted by phone by either your own practice or somebody working on their behalf. 
  • If you receive a letter from the NHS to book with the national system and you already have an appointment booked with the local GP service then please ignore the letter and keep your existing appointment.


What is the progress so far, how many people have been vaccinated in our area?

The latest figures and data on the national and local progress of the vaccination programme is published daily but the NHS England on their website Statistics » COVID-19 Vaccinations (england.nhs.uk)

I’m worried about attending a vaccination appointment and having to queue with lots of people. How are you maintaining social distancing?

Our covid-19 vaccination programme is well underway and we know people are eager to get to their appointment.  However, in order for us to maintain social distancing, space on some of our sites is more limited than normal.  We are keeping to time but some people are arriving early for their appointment and unfortunately, in some cases, have to wait outside, which is something we wish to avoid.  Please help us keep you safe and warm by arriving on time for your appointment, not early.

Is it true that vaccines supplies in the North East and Yorkshire region might be reduced?

This is an NHS England decision. To ensure all of those people in the top priority groups can get vaccinated quickly, targeted deliveries are being made to areas where there are more people left to vaccinate in the priority cohorts.

While deliveries of the vaccine to local sites will vary in line with available supply, crucially each region of the country is getting a fair share of doses for them to get priority groups of people vaccinated, as advised by the JCVI. Because communities vary hugely in size and demographics, areas yet to vaccinate the most at-risk groups of people are being targeted with the doses they now need, to get priority cohorts protected.


Vaccine ingredients and specifics

Does the vaccine include any parts from foetal or animal origin? 

No. There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-for-covid-19

For the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

The Muslim Council of Britain has also circulated BIMA’s position statement on the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, which states they contain no animal products or human embryo cells

Is the vaccine halal?

The British Islamic Medical Association have produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community which can be found at https://britishima.org/pfizer-biontech-covid19-vaccine. There are no animal products in either of the vaccines.

Is the vaccine vegan?

There are no animal products in either of the vaccines. The laws and regulatory agencies worldwide currently require that new drugs and treatments are tested on animals before clinical trials on humans. The Vegan Society issued a statement on the COVID-19 vaccine which can be read in full by going to www.vegansociety.com/news/news/vegan-society-response-covid-19-vaccine

An extract from the statement reads: “The definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid animal use, which is particularly relevant to medical situations. In the case of Covid-19, vaccination will play a fundamental role in tackling the pandemic and saving lives. As all vaccines currently are tested on animals, at this stage it is impossible to have a vaccine that has been created without animal use.”

Can the vaccine alter your genetic material? 

There is no evidence to suggest that individual genetic material will undergo an alteration after receiving the vaccine.

I have allergies, can I have the vaccine? 

COVID vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.    

Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to the ingredients contained in the vaccines should not receive them.

Checking for allergies is a routine part of the process before giving any vaccine or new medicine. Having these conversations – as well as being able to deal with allergic reactions in the rare case they do happen, is a central part of training for vaccinators. Please speak to the vaccinating clinician about any of your concerns.

Does the vaccine work on those taking immune suppressants? 

Although the vaccine was not tested on those with very serious immunological conditions, the vaccine has been proven to be very effective and it is unlikely that the vaccine will have no effect at all on these individuals.  

There may be a very small number of people with very complex or severe immunological problems who can’t make any response at all – but the vaccine should not do any harm to these individuals. Individuals meeting these criteria may want to discuss the vaccine further with their specialist doctor. 

I am pregnant/planning to have a baby. Should I get the vaccine?

The MHRA have updated their guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks. 

You can read more about advice for people of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding on the gov.uk website.

Should I be worried about the impact of Covid-19 vaccines on fertility?

No. Both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives are reassuring women that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Women who are eligible for the vaccination should discuss any concerns with a clinician. You can read more about this on the Royal College website. 


Travel to vaccination sites

I am housebound. How can I get my vaccine?  

We are planning a mixed approach in Humber Coast and Vale area to ensure that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely. For care home residents and housebound people, this will involve roving community teams coming to them.  *****In a change to the previous message, if you are in a care home or housebound and have not yet been contacted, please contact the NHS to book a vaccination*****

I have received a letter to have my vaccine at a vaccination centre in York but I’d struggle to travel there. Can I have my vaccine somewhere closer to home?

If you’d struggle to get to a large vaccination centre you still have an option to have your vaccine arranged through your local GP practice network. They will contact you about it separately. You do not need to contact your local GP to ask for the vaccine. They will let you know when it’s your turn.

The NHS will follow up with people that haven’t booked their appointment, as a reminder.

Where and when will I receive my second dose?

The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.  You will have the 2nd dose 3 to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose. You will be offered an appointment to have your 2nd vaccine dose at the same location you received your 1st dose. 

I am shielding - what support is available to me and when will I get my vaccine?

People most at risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) are being strongly advised by Government to stay at home and avoid any face-to-face contact to reduce their chance of becoming ill.  The clinically extremely vulnerable are being given priority access to vaccination against COVID-19 in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommendations.

In the East Riding area, a community response hub has been established to co-ordinate help and support which could include asking for prescriptions or essential food items to be picked up or just a simple telephone call.  The dedicated telephone number is (01482) 393919 and is operational between 9am-9pm Monday to Friday and 9am-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  Email requests are also available through covid@eastriding.gov.uk

Read Public Health England's guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable persons from covid-19.


Health and social care worker vaccination programme

Why are healthcare workers amongst the first groups to receive the vaccine?

The JCVI have put patient-facing health and social care staff into a priority group because of their heightened risk of exposure to the virus. Employers have been asked to offer the vaccine to the most at risk healthcare workers first. With many more doses now expected over the coming weeks, employers will be widening this out and protecting staff as soon as possible.

The NHS is experienced in vaccinating staff quickly and safely. The Humber, Coast and Vale vaccination programme office is working with local NHS and health and social care employers to offer all eligible staff the opportunity to take it up over the coming weeks and months.

Who is included in the health and social care cohort?

The health and social care cohort includes:

  • Staff employed by the NHS
  • Social care staff employed by local authority
  • Third sector/private organisations
  • Privately employed individuals
  • Private contractors/individual practitioners
  • Large national/regional organisations

More information is available from the Green Book www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-the-green-book-chapter-14a

I’m a healthcare and/or social worker why haven't I been contacted about my vaccine yet?

While the NHS in Humber, Coast and Vale is committed to ensuring that all of the health and social care workforce receive their vaccination, a programme of this size will take time, considering the number of provider organisations and individual practitioners.

We are working to capture all eligible organisations in Humber Coast and Vale and offer them vaccines in hospital hubs, GP practices or via vaccination centres. This will include social care staff, services commissioned by the local authority, primary care contractors, services commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups, independent contractors, single practitioners, locums, directly employed personal assistants, other groups providing direct care, funeral directors and other groups identified in the Green Book.

Please note that we estimate that this cohort includes over 100,000 individuals across thousands of organisations in our area, so we would ask you to remain patient while we’re working through large numbers of eligible professionals.  Your employer will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine.

Independently self-employed individuals who fit the JCVI criteria for health and social care staff, can email our programme office at eryccgc-19.vaccinationprogram@nhs.net and they will be contacted in the near future.  

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