Manchester's Director of Public Health answers questions about the vaccine
- Watch or read the question and answer session on the Manchester Evening News website (Google Translate link)
- Download the transcript for the video
Having a vaccine is a really important step in how we fight Covid-19 and we understand that people may have fears, so David Regan, Manchester's Director of Public Health has answered the following questions which have been fed back to us through community groups:
Who will get the vaccine and when will they get it?
The NHS has started vaccinating people to protect against Covid-19. An independent group of experts has recommended that the NHS first offers the vaccine to those who are at highest risk of catching the virus and suffering serious complications.
People who are housebound and are unable to get to a local vaccination centre will be contacted directly.
The NHS is working hard to roll out the vaccine in a way that protects the most vulnerable people in our communities and at this stage only those eligible will be invited to come forward and have the vaccine. If you are eligible and haven’t been contacted yes, please be patient, we are expanding the vaccination programme across Manchester as quickly as possible.
When the time to offer you a vaccine does come, you will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be a letter, either from their GP or the NHS. This letter will include all the information you will need to book your appointment, including your NHS number.
How will I be contacted to receive the vaccine?
If you are eligible, you will be contacted by your GP and will be invited to attend one of the sites across the city to receive the vaccine - most likely the one closest to where you live.
If you are eligible and haven't been vaccinated by your GP already, you may also receive another invitation from the NHS offering you the option of attending the Mass Vaccination Centre at the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester or a local pharmacy. If you have already booked an appointment with your GP practice, you can ignore this letter.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact their GP or the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted.
With the local restrictions in place, will the vaccine still be provided, and should I still attend my appointment?
Yes. Getting the Covid-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and so is within the rules wherever you live.
Vaccinations will continue as normal in all areas regardless of what restrictions are in place. If you have booked or are offered an appointment, please attend it. The place that you choose to have your vaccine will keep you safe from Covid through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting and having social distancing in waiting areas. Please also wear a face covering to your appointment. You should also take the usual steps to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.
The vaccines have been developed very quickly – how can we know they safe?
I’m sure a lot of people will want to ask this and that’s very understandable. Yes, the vaccine has been developed at speed - but that’s because we are in a pandemic - it is a priority with our best scientific minds working on it and dedicated to it.
The vaccines have undergone months of rigorous testing and they are only approved for use once the strict safety approvals have been met. This includes approval from the MHRA, the official UK regulator, like all other medicines and devices.
I’m going to have it and I hope my family will too.
Given the recent news about the COVID variants, is the vaccine effective about this?
There is currently no evidence that the new strains will be resistant to the vaccine we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccine. Viruses, including the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small changes rarely mean the vaccine is ineffective.
Why are there different Covid vaccines and does it matter which one I have?
It’s really good news that there are different vaccines because it means there is more access to supplies and a speeding up of the number of people that can be protected from the virus.
All the vaccines have to undergo rigorous testing and they all have to pass the same safety standards from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Sometimes people may forget that there are many versions of other vaccines we already take – like the flu vaccine for example.
The main aim is to make sure we get protection from the virus so that we limit and reduce serious illness.
Does it change your DNA?
No, it definitely doesn’t. The content of the Covid vaccines does not go anywhere near our own genetic material and has no ability to change it or us.
There’s lots of rumours about it containing human or animal products?
No, they don’t contain either human or animal products (so no porcine content either).
I’ve heard you can catch flu from the flu jab – can you get Covid from this vaccination?
Taking flu first: the flu vaccination used in our country does not contain live virus, so it does not – and cannot – give anyone flu.
If people do feel a bit under the weather after a flu jab it is because their own immune system is kicking in after the vaccination. Sometimes, if people catch a cold at the same time, they think it is due to the vaccination, but it isn’t, it’s just a coincidence.
The Covid vaccine does not contain the actual virus, so it’s physically impossible to catch the disease from it.
Will the vaccination work for me if I’ve had Covid already?
Even if you have had Covid, and you are eligible for the vaccine, it’s a good idea to have it because we still do not know how long immunity lasts. Having the jab helps to make sure your immunity is as strong as it can be.
Will I be forced to have the vaccination?
No, you won’t, it is by choice. If you decide against it, you are at greater risk of the virus and of passing it on.
I’ve heard that the vaccine trials did not include people from ethnic minority backgrounds – is that true?
No. The trials did include people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The vaccine producers did make a call for more volunteers recently so that the study matched vulnerable groups – just like they did with the over 65s too.
Should I leave a gap between getting the flu and Covid vaccine?
We are encouraging people to have their flu vaccination as soon as possible. The flu vaccine is important because if you're at higher risk from coronavirus, you're also more at risk of problems from flu. Research shows people can catch both diseases at the same time, with serious and potentially serious consequences.
People also need to have at least 7 days between a flu and a Covid vaccine.
What happens if you are unwell several days after having the vaccination? What do you do?
The vaccine is safe and has been proven to be effective. No safety concerns were raised in studies of over 20,000 people. So far, thousands of people in Manchester have been given the vaccine and reports of serious side effects.
As with any vaccine, you may experience side effects, such as tenderness in the arm where you had the injection, tiredness, a headache, or general aches and pains. Not everyone gets these side effects, and most of them are mild and short-term.
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to. If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
Am I fully protected from COVID-19 after the first vaccine dose?
No. Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection. Once you've received your first dose of the vaccine, you will be invited to a second appointment to receive another dose so you can be fully protected.