Covid-19 vaccination - frequently asked questions

Page updated 22 April 2021

Please note: the answers on this page that reference the National Booking Services do not reflect that available bookings are limited through April due to national vaccine supply. Please see our main page for details of how April supply is affecting services.

Prioritisation of the vaccine

For the latest information on who can currently get the Covid-19 vaccination check here.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), an independent expert group, sets the  priority groups which the NHS offers the vaccines to first. Their guidance was updated on 30 December 2020 (initial guidance was published on 2 December).

The 30 December update JCVI advice is that the vaccine is offered in age order to:

  • Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers 
  • All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers 
  • All those 75 years of age and over 
  • All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals 
  • All those 65 years of age and over. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality 
  • All those 60 years of age and over 
  • All those 55 years of age and over 
  • All those 50 years of age and over 

Read the full JCVI guidance

The priority list is the same for both vaccines.

You can get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are a main carer of someone at high risk from coronavirus.

If you get a Carer's Allowance, get support following an assessment by your local authority or your GP record shows you are a carer you can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy now using the online booking or calling 119

If you think you are an eligible unpaid carer who has not been contacted for your coronavirus vaccination, speak to your GP surgery.

 

 

Frontline health and social care staff are being encouraged to come forward and book vaccinations. You do not need to wait to be contacted by your GP or other service, but all appointments must be booked in advance.

All eligible frontline health and social care workers can now use the national booking service to get vaccinated. Book online or call 119.

You can also speak to your employer as information has been widely shared through social care leads about vaccination through hospital based services. If you cannot find information directly from your employer, email kmccg.covidvaccine@nhs.net 

Who is eligible?

Covid-19 vaccination is available for all frontline health and social care workers, as defined here.

Frontline healthcare staff includes people:

  • involved in direct patient care,
  • who have frequent face-to-face clinical contact with patients,
  • in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services,
  • working temporarily, including those working in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients.

Non-clinical staff in secondary or primary care/community healthcare includes:

  • non-clinical staff who may have contact with patients but are not directly involved in patient care, this group includes receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners.

Laboratory and pathology staff who are eligible:

  • hospital-based laboratory and mortuary staff who frequently handle SARS-CoV-2 or collect or handle potentially infected specimens, including respiratory, gastrointestinal and blood specimens,
  • cleaners, porters, secretaries and receptionists in laboratories,
  • frontline funeral operatives and mortuary technicians/embalmers.

(Staff working in non-hospital-based laboratories and those academic or commercial research laboratories who handle clinical specimens or potentially infected samples will be able to use effective protective equipment in their work and should be at low risk of exposure and are not eligible in this priority group).

Frontline social care workers includes:

  • people working in long-stay residential and nursing care homes or other long-stay care facilities,
  • social care staff directly involved in the care of their patients or clients,
  • others involved directly in delivering social care where they and/or vulnerable patients/clients are at increased risk of exposure.

(Young people aged 16 to 18 years-old, who are employed in, studying or in training for health and social care work should be offered a vaccination alongside their colleagues if a suitable vaccine is available.)

Read the national leaflet for:

Read the national letter encouraging frontline health and social care workers to help protect themselves and others by getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

People in cohort six – those aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions (considered clinically vulnerable) will be invited by their GP surgery for a vaccination appointment.

People in the age based groups (with no underlying health conditions) will receive a letter or text from the national booking service and can book an appointment at one of our large vaccination sites or community pharmacy services.

If you do have health conditions but you also recieve a national letter based on your age; you can use the national booking service and arrange your vaccination at a large vaccination centre or pharmacy service.

This government guidance explains who is eligible as part of cohort six (from page 10 onwards), including:

• Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group, which includes:

  • chronic respiratory disease
  • chronic heart disease and vascular disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease, including severe or profound learning disability
  • diabetes mellitus
  • immunosuppression
  • asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness

• Younger adults in long-stay in-patient, nursing and residential care settings

• Carers - those who receive carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of: An elderly or disabled person, someone who has a severe mental illness or whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

Yes. If you are part of one of ther earlier priority groups and did not get your first dose of the vaccine for any reason, you can still book. Please use the national booking system where possible. You can book online or by phoning 119.

The national booking service can arrange appointments at our large vaccination centres and pharmacy run services. It can be used by frontline health and care staff as well as the general public.

Different vaccination service across Kent and Medway will be inviting people from the priority groups at different times. Nationally there are now also multiple groups being invited to get vaccinated at the same time; so it may be the case that someone from a younger age group is vaccinated before you.

Everyone will be invited for the vaccine. 

We would ask that people are patient and wait to be contacted either through a text or letter from the national booking service or by their local GP-run service.

On 30 December 2020 new guidance was given to the NHS on rolling out the vaccine. We have been directed to maximise the number of people from the priority groups recieving a first dose. This means second doses will now typically be scheduled for around 12 weeks after the first dose.

More about the national prioritisation of first dose vaccination is available in the updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

This change in national policy may mean some second dose appointments booked when the earliest sites began vaccinating will be rescheduled for a later date.

The government’s website has been updated with details on the vaccination requirement before travelling internationally.

Countries will decide whether they require proof of Covid vaccination for entry, and it is the traveller’s responsibility to check individual requirements. If needed, people in England who have both vaccine doses will be able to demonstrate their Covid vaccination status via the NHS App from 17 May.

Those without access to the app can request a letter from the NHS proving their vaccination status by calling 119.  More information will be shared with you when it becomes available.

Second dose of the vaccine

The first dose of the vaccine gives you good protection from coronavirus but you need to have two doses to give you longer lasting protection.

 

People should have the same vaccine for both their first and second doses. That means if you had the Pfizer vaccine, you will have Pfizer again for your second dose.

In the vast majority of cases, the second dose will be given by the same vaccine service as the first dose.

Unless there is a very good reason why someone cannot attend the same place they went to for their first vaccination, they will be asked to return there.

Everyone should have recieved a card when they had their first vaccine which will include information on when the second dose is due. 

People who booked online can remind themselves of the place and time of their second dose using the ‘manage my appointments’ section on www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine.

People who used a GP-led service will be contacted to book their second dose appointment. The timings for when you are contacted may vary but if you have not been contacted by the Monday of the 11th week you should contact your GP surgery.

When to get the vaccine

No. If you have symptoms, have a positive test or are self-isolating with other members of your household who have the virus, please do not come to a vaccination site.

You must stay at home until your self-isolation period is complete.

You will be able to reschedule your vaccine for another time.

Yes, if you are in a priority group identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The MHRA has 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.

Ideally vaccination should wait until you have recovered. You should wait at least four weeks after onset of symptoms or four weeks from the first Covid-19 positive test result if you do not have any symptoms.

Having prolonged Covid-19 symptoms for more than four weeks is not in itself a reason to delay receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, but if you are seriously debilitated, still under active investigation, or have recently deteriorated further please contact your GP to discuss possible deferral of vaccination to avoid incorrect attribution of any change in underlying condition to the vaccine.

No, the Covid-19 vaccination is only available through the NHS to eligible groups and it is a free vaccination.

If you are offered or see the vaccine being advertised anywhere as something you can pay for it will be a scam and you should not follow it up.

Coronavirus vaccines are only available on the NHS. You may be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you.

We are aware that some people are receiving suspicious calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination. The NHS national booking service and some GP services are using texts to invite people for vaccines - so not all texts are scams.

 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 believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to Kent Police online or phone 101.

Kent County Council alerts on scams (not just Covid-19 related)

Sign up for alert by email or follow Public Protection Kent on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/publicprotection and Twitter https://twitter.com/kentprotect 

Vaccination sites

No. All eligible people across Kent and Medway will be invited for a vaccination and the appointment will be arranged in advance. There are no walk-in services available at hospitals, GP practices, pharmacies or any other vaccination site. 

A list and map of services is on our main Covid-19 vaccination page

All vaccinations are by appointment only – there are no walk-in services available.

GP practices, working in groups called primary care networks, which typically serve between 30,000 to 50,000 patients in their area, were asked to confirm how they could deliver vaccinations from one location in their network.

They had to meet a specific set of conditions, set by NHS England, to make sure vaccines could be delivered and stored safely - including infection prevention and control standards and social distancing requirements which would allow large numbers of people to receive the vaccine - and these have been determining factors for location.

updated 9 Feb 2021

With the AstraZeneca vaccine it is now easier to move the vaccine to more locations.

In addition to the designated vaccination sites (those listed on our map on the vaccine services page) we now have more than 35 other GP sites that can run Covid-19 vaccine clinics. These additional sites will arrange clinics depending on the supply of vaccine available, and may not run every day.

When you are invited for a vaccine by our GP-led services they will confirm the location being offered.

updated 9 Feb 2021

There have been some changes to allow for vaccine to be distributed more widely within groups of practices working together. We now have 39 main vaccination sites for GP-led services and an additional 35 GP services approved to run vaccine clinics.

However there are still specific requirements for any site providing the Covid-19 vaccines. At this point, (9 Feb 2021) we do not expect that vaccine will be distributed to all GP surgeries. 

Details of where vaccines will be carried out will be included in personal invitations when the vaccine is available to people based on the national priority groups.

updated 9 Feb 2021

Services for patients who are recorded by their GP surgery as housebound are underway and we expect those who have not already been vaccinated to be contacted between now and 14 February. If you or a house bound relative has not been contacted yet please be patient. Our vaccination teams will be contacting you shortly.

GP-led teams are overseeing vaccination of house bound patients. The actual vaccine may be given by a community nurse or other healthcare professional working on behalf of your GP practice. The details of who will come, and when, will be confirmed directly by your local vaccination team. 

House bound services did start later than vaccination clinic due to the restrictions on transporting the Pfizer vaccine, which was the first to be approved for use. But we will contact everyone recorded as house bound by their GP surgery.

You will be invited back for your second dose at the same location you recieved the first dose. 

It is important that you have the same vaccine for both doses.

What to expect when attending your vaccination appointment

Please make your way to the entrance or join the back of the queue if there is one.

At the entrance to the vaccination site, there will be someone there to explain the next steps, including the pre-screening questions, you will be asked to consent to have the vaccination and you will be called in to have your vaccine.

You will also need to follow any instructions you may have been given when you booked your appointment.

Please observe social distancing guidelines when at the vaccination service and keep two metres away from others at all times.

Please do not turn up early. Appointments are timed and you will need to wait for your timed appointment. Arriving too early may result in lengthy queues and we want to avoid too many people congregating at once.

Every effort is being made to make this process as smooth as possible but due to the large number of patients who will be attending some waiting may be unavoidable.

You may have to queue outside, so please dress warmly. There are no refreshments at these sites, so you may wish bring a bottle of water and a snack. Please visit the toilet before you arrive. If you have a walking aid or portable chair, you may wish to bring it with you.

Please don’t bring anyone else with you, unless you have to. You may accompany someone who is having their vaccination if they cannot attend without your help.

Please make every effort to come to your appointment alone to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection. If you do bring babies or children with you, there is no guarantee that your vaccination will be given and you may be asked to return for another appointment.

Yes. These must be worn at all times and social distancing rules of staying two metres apart should be followed.

We also encourage you to make use of the antibacterial hand gel available at the vaccination sites.

Invitations to be vaccinated

You need to be registered with a GP to have a vaccine. If you are not registered with a GP use the online search on www.nhs.uk or phone 0300 311 22 33. 

If you are registered with a GP, please make sure they have your correct contact details. NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG) is unable to access your patient record, please contact your practice and they will update your records. 

Dementia patients are of course a priority for primary care to support at all times. GP surgeries have dementia registers that identify patients and arrangements are made to communicate with people or their registered carers in an appropriate way. The same systems will be used for vaccination invitations for people with dementia.

You should be able to find your NHS Number on any letter or document you have received from the NHS, including prescriptions, test results, and hospital referral or appointment letters.

We are aware that some people are receiving suspicious calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination.

Coronavirus vaccines are only available on the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery 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 believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to Kent Police online or phone 101.

The vaccines

You can report suspected side effects to medicines, vaccines or medical device and diagnostic adverse incidents used in coronavirus treatment on the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) website.

There will not be open choice of which vaccine to have. Any vaccines that are available will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and effectiveness, so people can be assured that whatever vaccine they get will protect them from coronavirus.

Whichever vaccine people have for a first dose they must have the same vaccine for the second dose.

The second dose will be given from the same vaccine service as the first dose.

 

There are now three vaccines approved for use in the UK.

  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • AstraZeneca/Oxford
  • Moderna – not currently available in Kent and Medway

They have all met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Any coronavirus 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.

Find out more about the vaccines here (information updated on 26 April 2021)

Almost all children with Covid-19 have no symptoms or mild disease and the vaccines have not yet been tested on younger children. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises only children at very high risk of catching the virus and serious illness, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities in residential care, should be offered vaccination. 

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine 

  • You can read more about this vaccine in a copy of the patient information leaflet which will be given with the vaccine.
  • The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any components of animal origin. The full list of ingredients is published in the patient information leaflet.
  • This vaccine is given in two doses. The second dose is given between 3 - 12 weeks after the first dose.
  • The vaccine is given as an injection into the muscle of your upper arm.

AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine

  • You can read more about this vaccine in a copy of the patient information leaflet which will be given with the vaccine.
  • The AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any components of animal origin. The full list of ingredients is published in the patient information leaflet.
  • This vaccine is given in two doses. The second dose is given between 4 - 12 weeks after the first dose. 
  • The vaccine is given as an injection into the muscle of your upper arm.
  • In April 2021 teh JCVI issued new guidance advising that peopel under 30 years old and pregnant women should be offered alternative vaccines rather than AstraZeneca.

Moderna

  • You can read more about this vaccine in a copy of the patient information leaflet which will be given
  • The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can be given to adults aged 18 years and older.
  • As COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna does not contain the virus to produce immunity, it cannot give you COVID-19.with the vaccine.
  • The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any components of animal origin. The full list of ingredients is published in the patient information leaflet.
  • This vaccine is given in two doses. 
  • The vaccine is given as an injection into the muscle of your upper arm.

If other vaccines are approved we will add information to this section.

Local progress

We publish regular updates on local progress with the vaccination programme. You can find the latest update with the current number of vaccines given in Kent and Medway on our updates page.

Rene Petts, 101, was one of the first people in Kent to receive their Covid-19 vaccination when the Herne Bay site launched.

92-year-old Derrick Richardson received his first vaccine dose from Advanced Paramedic Jessica Willetts.

Text Size:

Contrast: