Concerns over the Indian variant mean vaccination is being speeded up in many areas, and second doses are being offered earlier to some groups of people.
A new study indicates that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are highly effective against the variant identified in India.
Who is being offered the vaccine now?
Who else has been vaccinated?
The roll-out has largely been organised according to age, but other people prioritised include:
- frontline health and social care staff
- clinically extremely vulnerable people
- over-16s with some health conditions which increase their risk from Covid
How soon will I get my second dose?
The vaccines require two doses to provide the best protection and the second should be offered within 12 weeks of the first.
However, people over 50 and those with severe underlying health conditions which put them at high risk will now receive their second dose eight weeks later.
This is because of concerns over spread of the Indian variant.
What vaccine will I get?
The UK is using vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Moderna.
People under 40 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine if it’s available.
This is because of concerns about a possible connection between that vaccine and extremely rare cases of blood clots.
But the UK’s medicines regulator says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for most people.
Can you mix and match different vaccines?
A UK trial is investigating whether using two different vaccines could give better protection and more flexibility.
If you have already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you should also have a second dose. Only those who suffered a rare blood clot should not, the regulator says.
Do vaccines work against new variants?
The Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are highly effective against the variant identified in India after two doses, a study from Public Health England has found.
But both vaccines were only 33% effective against the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose, making the second dose vitally important.
The government’s scientific advisers say the India Covid variant spreads more easily – although they yet don’t know by how much.
Vaccine developers are updating their jabs to target new variants but it’s not clear when they will be ready.
Will people be given a third dose?
People are being urged to take part in trials to find out whether a third dose could protect against new variants.
The Cov-Boost study will recruit 3,000 people of all ages to test whether re-vaccinating some people in the autumn is necessary.
How many vaccine doses are there?
The UK has ordered eight vaccines and expects to receive 517 million doses.
These include another 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine (on top of the original order of 40 million) to be used as part of a booster programme in the autumn.
Vaccines supplied by CureVac will be designed to protect against the most concerning new variants.
Can pregnant women get the vaccine?
The UK’s vaccine committee says pregnant women should be offered a jab when other people their age get one.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferable, they say, because data relating to 90,000 pregnant women has not raised any safety concerns.
Data on how the AZ vaccine works in pregnant women may become available in the near future.
Will all children be vaccinated?
No decision has been made on whether teenagers or younger children will be offered a vaccine in the UK.
Vaccinating them could help protect other people, but the risk to children from catching Covid remains extremely low.
The Pfizer vaccine has now been approved as safe for 12-15-year-olds in the UK, and the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for over-18s.
Moderna says its Covid vaccine is “highly effective” in adolescents aged 12-17, and it will soon ask global regulators to approve its use for this age group.
Like Pfizer, Moderna is also testing jabs on children between six months and 11 years old.
Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) is currently testing its vaccines on 12-18s. AstraZeneca is trialling its vaccine on six-to-17-year-olds.
Is a Covid vaccine compulsory?
No, it’s not – but everyone is being urged to get vaccinated to protect their family, friends and wider society.
The government is currently considering whether to make the vaccine compulsory for NHS staff and care workers.
What about people with allergies?
A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction – known as anaphylaxis – after 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 side-effects with all vaccines are possible.
The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.
They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.
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