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Find out about COVID-19 vaccinations

Vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective at reducing the chance of you suffering from coronavirus.

The NHS is working hard to vaccinate the most vulnerable as quickly as possible. This will take time but the NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to the following people most at risk from coronavirus:

  • people aged 65 and over
  • people who are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • people who are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable)
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers
  • people who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance – find out more about Carer’s Allowance on GOV.UK

If you are aged 65 or over or are clinically extremely vulnerable, an eligible frontline health worker or an eligible frontline social worker or you are eligible for Carer’s Allowance, you can now book your COVID-19 vaccination appointment without needing an invitation letter by visiting the NHS vaccination website or calling NHS 119, free of charge.  

Please book and attend your appointment. You can book your appointment at a vaccination centre or a community pharmacy. The COVID-19 vaccination sites are run by NHS professionals and have extra measures in place to keep you safe during your visit. If you would prefer to receive the vaccine at a GP surgery, please wait to be contacted.

If you are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable) the NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the COVID-19 vaccination. Please attend your appointment when you are invited.

The sooner we are all vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal.

We know many of you will have questions about the vaccine and are concerned about the safety of the vaccinations. Read the full FAQs for more information.

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Vaccination FAQs PDF, 449.5 KB, 12 pages

Questions about booking your vaccination

I’m over 65 so can now get in touch with the NHS to get my vaccination, but does that mean I can turn up at vaccination services without an appointment? 

No. You will still need to make an appointment in advance before going to any vaccination service. This is important because booking slots are carefully managed to allow for social distancing and the number of appointments is based on the supply available that day. 

Do I need to know my NHS number to use the booking website/phone line? 

No. It’s easier if you do have your NHS number, but if you don’t both the NHS booking website and phone line can still book appointments using other details, provided you are registered with a GP practice. 

Find your NHS number

If I’ve already had my first dose will I be able to book my second in this way? 

No. You will only be able to book if our records show you have yet to have your first dose. If you have already had your first dose, please wait for the NHS to contact you about your second. 

Will this approach also apply to the next priority groups when it is their turn to be vaccinated? 

For the moment this only applies to people aged 65 and over, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and eligible frontline health and social care workers.

If you are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable) the NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the COVID-19 vaccination. Please attend your appointment when you are invited.

When the time comes to start vaccinating other priority groups, this will be by invitation only so that the NHS can manage the supplies of vaccines available in the fairest possible way.  

What if I don’t live close to one of the large Vaccination Centres?

The National Booking Service also handles booking for pharmacy-led vaccination services, of which there are around 200 across the country. Only a small number of people don’t live within travelling distance of at least one of these services. 

Alternatively, you can also choose to wait to be contacted by your local GP services. If they haven’t been in contact already, this will be soon.  

Does the NHS have the capacity and supplies available if lots of people now book?

The vast majority of people in these groups have already either had their first dose or are booked in to be vaccinated shortly.  

The NHS is confident that the supplies and booking slots are available to accommodate the expected number of people who may now come forward. 

Why have I not been contacted by anyone about a vaccination?

If you are 70 or over or on the Shielded Patient List, then it is likely that you have been contacted by the NHS already. If you haven’t, this could be for a number of reasons, but is most likely to be because you are not registered with a GP or have recently moved, and the NHS therefore doesn’t have your contact details. 

If you have never registered with a GP or haven’t been to a GP for a number of years, we would recommend speaking with your local practice about registering.  

As well as getting access to COVID-19 vaccines, being registered with a GP also means you are invited to important health checks such as for cancer or heart disease, and can access care easier when you need it. 

More information on how to register with a GP

How do I get an NHS number?

You may already have an NHS number but just don’t know it. 

Find out if you already have an NHS number

If you don’t have an NHS number this is likely to be because you are not registered with a GP. If this is the case, we would recommend speaking with your local practice about registering.  

As well as getting access to COVID-19 vaccines, being registered with a GP also means you are invited to important health checks such as for cancer or heart disease, and can access care easier when you need it. 

More information on how to register with a GP

What if I book an appointment through the NHS website or 119 and I need to rearrange it?

If you need to rearrange an appointment that you booked through the NHS website, you can do this through the ‘manage your appointments’ section on the booking page.  

If you booked through 119, you can also ring to rearrange your appointment.  

If you can’t attend your appointment for any reason, please cancel or rearrange it so that the appointment slot can be given to someone else who needs it.  

Can I still book if I previously had an appointment but didn’t attend or cancel it?

Yes. Only those who have had a vaccination recorded are marked on our system and are therefore unable to book again. 

A letter came to my home but it was for someone else. Can I still use it to book an appointment?

No. Unless you are aged 65 or over, on the Shielded Patients List or an eligible frontline health and social care worker you will not be able to book an appointment.  

If you receive a letter for someone who does not live at your address anymore, please return to sender in the usual way so that our records can be updated. 

COVID-19 vaccine - frequently asked questions

What vaccine for COVID-19 is currently available?

In the UK, there are three types of COVID-19 vaccine which have been approved for use:

• Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
• Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
• Moderna vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. They all require two doses to provide the best protection.

The latest evidence suggests the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides protection for up to 3 months for most people. As a result of this evidence, there has been a change to length of time between the first and second dose of the vaccine.

The second dose was previously 21 days after having the first dose, but this has now changed to 3 months after.

Who should have the COVID-19 vaccine?

The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus. This includes older adults, frontline health and social care workers, care home residents and staff, and those with certain clinical conditions or at greater risk from COVID-19. When more vaccine becomes available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible.

For more information, read the COVID-19 vaccination: A guide for older adults.

Can I give COVID-19 to anyone, after I have had the vaccine?

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So, it is important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you. To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:

•  practice social distancing
•  wear a face mask
•  wash your hands carefully and frequently
•  follow the current Government guidance for your local area

For the latest information from the Government on COVID-19, visit the GOV.UK website.

Are the vaccines safe? 

Yes, the vaccines have been proven to be safe. The NHS will not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public unless independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said the two types of vaccine are safe and highly effective. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and monitoring continues after authorisation.

How do I get the COVID-19 vaccination?

If you are aged 65 or over, clinically extremely vulnerable, an eligible frontline health worker or an eligible frontline social worker you can now book your COVID-19 vaccination appointment without needing an invitation letter by visiting the NHS vaccination website or calling NHS 119, free of charge.  

Please book and attend your appointment. You can book your appointment at a vaccination centre or a community pharmacy. The COVID-19 vaccination sites are run by NHS professionals and have extra measures in place to keep you safe during your visit. If you would prefer to receive the vaccine at a GP surgery, please wait to be contacted.

If you are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable) the NHS will get in touch with you directly when it is your turn to be vaccinated. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.

For information about vaccines, visit the NHS website.

Will the vaccine protect me?

The COVID-19 vaccine will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19. Each vaccine has been tested in more than 20,000 people in several different countries and shown to be safe. It may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions after vaccination to avoid infection. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

Will the vaccine have side effects?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. Although you may get some protection from the first dose, having the second dose will give you long lasting protection against the virus.

For more information on common side effects, read the NHS COVID-19 vaccination: A guide for older adults.

Will the vaccine work with the new strain?

There is no evidence currently that the new strain will be resistant to the current vaccines. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely make vaccines ineffective. 

Where can I find more information about the COVID-19 vaccine?

For more information on the vaccination programme in North West London, visit the NWL London NHS website.