How are patients invited for a vaccination?

When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need to book their appointments, including their NHS number.

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter.

Beware of fraudulent activity

Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant as criminals begin to take advantage of the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine to commit fraud.

In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available for free via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • 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 licence, bills or pay slips.

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk

Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

How do GPs know who to vaccinate?

The JCVI set criteria on an ongoing basis for who should get the vaccine when. GPs will be able to call in or go out to patients based on this, using their patient records. A national invite and recall system, drawn from GP patient records, may also be used.

You can find out more about when you are likely to receive your vaccination in our document: When will I get my COVID-19 vaccine?  (Published: 13 January 2021). The document is available to download here.

Who is defined as ‘clinically vulnerable’ (cohort 6 in the vaccination programme)?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) defines patients who are clinically vulnerable as those with:

chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma

  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness

The Green Book also adds younger adults in long-stay nursing and residential care settings and adult carers and states that the list is not exhaustive. GPs are being asked to use their 'clinical judgment' to take account of the risk of COVID-19 and any underlying health conditions. ​​​​

Am I eligible for the vaccine as part of cohort 6 if I’ve had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack?

Given the high prevalence of stroke and the resulting clinical frailty, all stroke survivors (including subarachnoid haemorrhage) and those who have had a transient ischaemic attack are in priority group 6 and are therefore eligible to receive the vaccine.

Should people who have already had Covid get vaccinated?

Yes, if they are in a priority group identified by JCVI. The MHRA have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t. 

Is one vaccine easier to deliver than another?

All vaccines will present different logistical requirements, but the NHS has been planning for all eventualities, and people should be assured that the vaccine they will be offered is available because it has been assessed and approved by experts as being safe and effective. 

What do I need to know about my second dose?

What should I do if I am invited for a second dose?

  • It is important that you attend the same vaccination site for both your first and second vaccinations.
  • Make your booking as soon as you can.
  • Attend the vaccination, but still observe any requirements for social distancing and mask wearing.

Should I get my second dose?

  • Yes, the Covid-19 vaccines currently in use were approved for use on the basis of each person receiving two doses.
  • Initially, these doses were to be spaced 21 days apart, but on December 30 the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers announced that this should be increased to 12 weeks. This was to enable more people to get some protection from a first dose.
  • The first dose causes the body to have an immune response, which protects against Covid-19 but fades over time. The second dose was shown to produce a larger secondary immune response, which takes longer to fade. This is why a second dose is important.

How do I book my second dose?

  • You may have an appointment card which already lists you next appointment. If so, you do not need to book; just attend the same site at the time and date on the card
  • You may also have a second booking made for you if you book online, either through the National Booking System or with your GP practice. You can log in to check this.
  • If you do not have an appointment card, please wait to be contacted by your GP practice or by the National Booking System, and follow their directions.

Is there enough vaccine for a second dose?

  • Yes, sufficient vaccines are available for second doses

Can I have my second dose somewhere else?

  • No, the system is designed to vaccinate people at the same site for both first and second doses.
  • In some cases, this will be unavoidable. For example, a person may have moved into or out of a hospital in-patient ward since their first dose. However, these cases will be considered on an individual basis.

Will I get the same vaccine for my second dose?

  • Yes, research is underway to determine the effectiveness of mixing different vaccines, but this is not yet complete.
  • If you are concerned because you experienced any side-effects from your first dose, please inform staff when you go for your second dose. A senior clinician is always available at a vaccination site to consult on such issues, and will be able to advise the most appropriate course of action for you.

Will I be immune once I have my second dose?

  • Your body will take time to develop its immune response, so you should continue to observe social distancing and other safety precautions immediately after receiving your second dose.
  • After about three weeks, your body’s immune response should have developed to protect you from becoming seriously ill from Covid-19, and may also reduce the risk of you transmitting it to others
  • You may need to receive ‘booster’ shots to protect you against new variants of the virus in the future.

I have received a letter but I have already booked or attended an appointment at a local GP service. What should I do?

If you already have a vaccination booked through your GP, please ignore the letter. There is nothing more you need to do.

I have the letter but don’t understand how I book my appointment?

If you have received a letter from the national booking centre inviting you to book your Covid-19 vaccination you can do this online or on the phone using the details on the first page of the letter. You will need your name, date of birth and NHS number to book.  Your letter will state your NHS number in the top right corner.   At the time of booking you will be asked to book your first vaccination and your follow up vaccination, which will be around 12 weeks later.

Letters sent by the national booking team are different to letters your GP may also send. If you are trying to book into a mass vaccination centre, please do not contact your GP surgery, as they will be unable to book you into the mass centre. Please use the details in the letter to book your appointment directly, either online or by phone.

I’ve received a letter but someone I live with who is in the same priority group hasn’t yet. Can we get vaccinated together?

The NHS is inviting eligible people as supplies of the vaccine allow. If you have received a letter and live with someone who is also eligible but has not been contacted, it is likely that they will be contacted shortly after. You can wait and book at the same time if you would like to.

How do I cancel my appointment?

If your appointment is at a mass vaccination site, please call 119 if you need to reschedule or change your appointment.

For appointments at GP practices please use the contact details provided on your appointment notification.

I am housebound – how does the process work and when will I be tested?

The housebound programme has been operating for some time now. One of the most frequent questions we are asked is when housebound people will receive their vaccination but this is difficult to answer as the planning is linked to the weekly schedules and supply of vaccine. However, our team of vaccinators are working through this group of patients as a priority.

A patient is deemed to be housebound when they are unable to leave their home environment through a physical and/or psychological illness.  A team of vaccinators will be delivering vaccinations to the housebound and those who are care home residents. The roving team are made up of healthcare staff, GPs and nurses.

Those who are housebound will have been identified by their registered GP and will have been written to explaining they are classed as housebound for the purposes of receiving the vaccination. The roving team or GP will then call to arrange an appointment.

You will only be vaccinated at home if you have been considered housebound by your GP. This is to ensure that those in vulnerable groups or who are geographically or socially isolated can access community vaccination services as soon as possible.

A team of two roving team staff will be carrying out your appointment. They will have identification to prove they are healthcare professionals. You will receive a telephone call before the appointment to confirm they will be visiting you.

All roving team staff will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep themselves and you safe.

If possible you should wear a face mask during the short appointment.

You can prepare by making sure you wear light clothing that is easily accessible for administering a vaccine into the upper arm. Please also open your window to increase ventilation within your home and do tell the team of any access issues to your property.

The roving team are only be allowed to work if they are symptom free and they will be following social distancing guidelines where possible as well as wearing full personal Protective equipment (PPE).

I have been shielding and working from home – can I come back to work once I have been vaccinated?

The vaccine is likely to make an important contribution towards protecting you from COVID-19. At present, government advice is that even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow shielding advice until further notice, as they continue to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups.

Can I have the vaccine safely if I am allergic to penicillin?

Yes. Allergy to penicillin is not listed as a clinical reason to avoid having either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 Will vaccination teams have regular coronavirus testing vaccine.

Do I still have to follow social distancing rules if I’ve had the vaccine?

Yes, this is really important. If someone is vaccinated they should still follow social distancing rules to protect themselves and others.

That’s because no vaccine is 100% effective and it is not yet clear if immunisation will stop people catching and spreading coronavirus, even though it protects against severe illness and death.

It's also worth remembering that it takes a few weeks after vaccination before you are protected. For the Covid vaccines currently available in the UK, two doses, spaced weeks apart, are recommended to give the best protection.

However, you can have close physical contact with someone you have formed a support bubble with.

Here’s some further information on what you can expect after vaccination.

Will the vaccine last for the rest of your life, or will you have to have a vaccine every 12 months, like the flu jab?

It’s not clear yet how long immunity might last after vaccination. It is possible that people will need to be vaccinated annually or every few years to have protection.

If you're given one type of vaccine does that mean you have to stick with that vaccine forever?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is rapidly being rolled out across the UK, starting with the highest priority groups. The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and other candidates will be deployed alongside the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to increase the pace and volume of the UK programme.

More evidence is needed to understand whether a seasonal vaccination or booster dose might be needed. The vaccines people are offered will be appropriate for them. This decision is based on clinical judgement supported by the advice of Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This will take into account individual vaccine characteristics, which may mean they are more suitable for some groups of people, and not others – for example, some may be less well tolerated or effective in certain age groups

What has changed to make 12 weeks safe for the dose interval?

Throughout this global pandemic we have always been guided by the latest scientific advice. Having studied evidence on both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines the JCVI has advised that we should prioritise giving as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing two doses in as short a time as possible.

The four UK Chief Medical Officers agree with JCVI that at this stage of the pandemic prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services. This is because the evidence shows that one dose of either vaccine provides a high level of protection from Covid-19. 

For both vaccines, data provided to MHRA demonstrate that whilst efficacy is optimised when a second dose is administered both offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term. For both vaccines the second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer term protection

The NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups. Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.

The JCVI’s independent advice is that this approach will maximise the benefits of both vaccines allowing the NHS to help the greatest number of people in the shortest possible time.  It will ensure that more at-risk people are able to get meaningful protection from a vaccine in the coming weeks and months, reducing deaths and starting to ease pressure on our NHS.

Has the interval changed because we don’t have enough vaccine?

No. The decision to update the dosing interval is based on advice from the JCVI and MHRA and is designed to maximise the impact of the programme and save lives

Should both vaccines be given in two doses?

The MHRA authorisation includes conditions that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should be administered in two doses, with the second dose given between 4 and 12 weeks after the first. The MHRA has also clarified that for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the interval between doses must be at least 3 weeks (21 days). This also aligns with the EMA position on the Pfizer vaccine.

For both vaccines, data provided to MHRA demonstrate that whilst efficacy is optimised when a second dose is administered both offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term. For both vaccines the second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer term protection.

Does one dose of the vaccine offer protection?

The JCVI has recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority. This is because one dose of the vaccine offers important protection and we want to reach as many at risk people as possible in order to offer protection until the second dose can be administered.

They have advised that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be given between 3 to 12 weeks following the first dose, and that the second dose of the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine may be given between 4 to 12 weeks following the first dose. The clinical risk priority order for deployment of the vaccines remains unchanged and applies to both vaccines. Both are very effective vaccines.

Why are you prioritising the first dose?

The JCVI has recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority.

The four UK Chief Medical Officers agree with JCVI that at this stage of the pandemic prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services.

Operationally this will mean that second doses of both vaccines will be administered towards the end of the recommended vaccine dosing schedule of 12 weeks. This will maximise the number of people getting vaccine and therefore receiving protection in the next 12 weeks.

NHS delivery plans should prioritise delivering first vaccine doses to as many people on the JCVI Phase 1 priority list in the shortest possible timeframe. This will allow the administration of second doses to be completed over the longer timeframes in line with conditions set out by the independent regulator, the MHRA, and advice from the JCVI. This will maximise the impact of the vaccine programme in its primary aims of reducing mortality and hospitalisations and protecting the NHS and equivalent health services.

What about people who have already had their 2nd dose after 3 weeks? Is this safe? Will they be protected?

Yes. The updating of the dosing interval is not a safety issue but is designed to maximise the impact of the vaccination programme, as advised by the JCVI.

Should the first Oxford/AstraZeneca dose be lower, given efficacy from clinical trials?

The Committee on Human Medicines, an MHRA advisory committee that advises ministers on the safety, efficacy and quality of medicinal products, did not find any evidence to recommend this dosing regimen. 

They concluded that the apparent increased efficacy seen in this approach is more likely to be the result of other differences, such as the dosing interval which was longer in the group given the lower “half” dose.

What is the science behind the interval change – how effective is it compared to having two doses closer together?

The JCVI has recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority. At this stage of the pandemic prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services.

Operationally this will mean that second doses of both vaccines will be administered towards the end of the recommended vaccine dosing schedule of 12 weeks. This will maximise the number of people getting vaccine and therefore receiving protection in the next 12 weeks.

Surely most vulnerable need more protection – why don’t you give them the two closer together and then prioritise first dose for less vulnerable?

The JCVI has recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority.

The four UK Chief Medical Officers agree with JCVI that at this stage of the pandemic prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services.

For both vaccines, data provided to MHRA demonstrate that whilst efficacy is optimised when a second dose is administered both offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term. For both vaccines the second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer term protection.

Is it possible to now get a COVID-19 vaccination at one of the large scale vaccination centres? Who can use the new vaccination centres?

Vaccination centres are being used to vaccinate people in priority groups including health and care staff.

As well as offering additional options, the NHS Vaccine Centres will also help in the NHS’s drive to protect its own frontline staff as well as social care workers providing vital support in communities.

Why are you asking people to travel so far for a vaccine?

Vaccination Centres offer a convenient alternative to GP-led and hospital services, for people who live up to a 45-minute drive from one of the new centres.

People do not have to take the appointment if it is too far to travel and too difficult and can wait for a local appointment instead. In line with current restrictions, it is ok for friends or family to drive an elderly friend or relative to get to their vaccination appointments.

How can people use the new vaccination centres?

The NHS will contact you. Please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine. When the NHS contacts you, please attend your booked appointments. And whether you have had a vaccine or not, please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives – that means staying at home as much as you can, and following the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance when you can’t.

Letters are being sent out to more than 600,000 people aged 80 who live up to a 45 minute drive from one of the new centres, inviting them to book an appointment. The letters will explain how people can book a slot over the phone or online through the national booking service.

The centres are an additional option for people, who can book an appointment at one of the seven centres through the national booking service online or over the phone. If it is not convenient for them, they can instead be vaccinated at one of their local vaccination centres in the coming weeks.

People should wait until they are invited and should not call their GP but use the booking line. If an appointment has already been offered by the GP, people can choose which appointment suits them best.

Who will be vaccinating people at the vaccination centres?

The new services will also be the first to deploy trained volunteers from both St John Ambulance and the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme alongside NHS staff, more than 80,000 of who have completed the clinical training needed to administer vaccines so far.

How many vaccines will the vaccination centres be able to administer?

The new vaccine centres will each be capable of delivering thousands of vaccinations each week, scaling their operations up and down according to vaccine supplies and demand.

How big will the workforce be to deliver this vaccine programme?

The Government and the NHS have also mobilised a workforce of over 80,000 health professionals to help in the delivery of the programme across the different vaccination sites.

Over 200,000 additional members of the public have expressed their interest in helping with the non-clinical elements of the rollout - such as administrative support, logistics, stewards and first aiders. All offers of support have been recorded and individuals will be contacted when they’re needed.

Are you using volunteers yet?

The vaccine centres will be the first to deploy trained volunteers from both St John Ambulance and the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme. This will be alongside NHS staff - more than 80,000 of whom have so far completed the clinical training needed to administer vaccines.

Who is going to be administering these vaccines?

Recruitment of workforce has focused on those who already have experience in handling vaccinations but may currently work outside of NHS settings, for example, independent nurses or allied health care professionals. Existing schemes such as NHS Bring Back scheme have also been utilised in order to fill roles.   

A comprehensive training package has been put together by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE-I), with professional groups and Public Health England (PHE). New vaccinators will have undergone both a comprehensive training programme and competency assessment to ensure they can safely administer vaccines to patients under the clinical supervision of an experienced health care professional. This training will include how to deal with possible adverse reactions to a vaccine. 

What role will the military have in distributing the vaccine?

An enormous amount of planning and preparation has taken place across government to be able to quickly roll out the vaccine, including ensuring we have adequate provision, transport, PPE and logistical expertise to do so.    

The whole of government is working closely with the NHS to put plans in place to distribute the vaccine, including military planning teams to help coordinate regional and national deployment activity.   

The NHS is well prepared to deliver the vaccine and keep pace with supplies as they increase over the coming weeks.

As part of prudent planning, a reserve force of 250 Army medically qualified military personnel has been placed on standby to support this work if needed. The MOD works hard to identify where it can most effectively assist other government departments. The Armed Forces have personnel, including specialist planners, logisticians, and medics ready to support responses to the outbreak however required.

How many vaccines are you expecting to do?

This will depend on the number of doses we get, but the NHS aims to vaccinate as many people as safely and quickly as possible.

Will you have vaccinated all vulnerable people by spring?

We want to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Deploying a vaccine at this scale is unprecedented, and timing will be subject, in part, to manufacturing timescales and supply. 

How many people have been vaccinated so far?

We receive a tremendous amount of interest in the vaccination statistics which are collated, validated and published nationally. These are being provided at sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) level and are available here.  

Will you be running vaccine clinics over weekends and bank holidays?

The NHS will be working hard to ensure the vaccine gets to those who need it, including on weekends and bank holidays – just as other vital services run 365 days a year. 

Is it a postcode lottery on how quickly you will be invited to receive the Covid-19 vaccine?

The NHS has been working together with local partners to ensure that people are not disadvantaged because of where they live, whether they own a car or if they are not able to get about. This is why the NHS has developed three different models of delivery.

NHS Trusts will provide Hospital Hubs where vaccines can be safely stored and those in the highest priority groups can be vaccinated.

Vaccination centres provide vaccination on a large scale. These sites are in well-connected public venues.

GPs and Pharmacies also provide vaccination services locally in the community.

When will GP practices and other centres receive vaccine supplies?

All vaccine sites in Derby and Derbyshire are receiving regular deliveries of COVID vaccines. Eligible patients are being contacted to book an appointment. Supply is expected to increase over the coming weeks.