Covid-19 - frequently asked questions

Page updated 1 February 2024.

For most people, vaccinations are only available seasonally.

For the latest information about the Covid-19 vaccination, visit nhs.uk/covidvaccination

Covid-19 testing

Healthcare workers are no longer required to complete routine lateral flow testing (LFT), and they are not eligible for free LFT, except healthcare workers whose job primarily involves providing direct care to inpatients who are severely immunosuppressed.

 

Only those eligible for Covid-19 treatment can access free lateral flow testing (LFT).

Eligible patients should collect free LFT kit from a local pharmacy. Find your nearest pharmacy offering this service.

Pharmacies in Kent and Medway supplying LFT kits

 

This has replaced the online and telephone ordering services for free rapid lateral flow tests provided by GOV.UK and NHS 119. 

The pharmacy may ask the patient about their medical history to confirm they are eligible for free tests.

 

The government has published its plan for Living with Covid-19 and free universal testing has come to an end.

Most people are no longer required to get a PCR test if they have Covid-19 symptoms. 

Local hospitals, GP surgeries and walk-in centres are not doing Covid-19 tests for the general public. Please do not go to local health services to ask for a Covid-19 test.

Find out more about the changes to Covid-19 testing in England.

If you would like to contact the national testing programme or raise a complaint about Covid-19 testing, please contact the Department of Health and Social Care on 020 7210 4850.

Changes to Covid-19 testing

Vaccine records

The Vaccination Data Resolution Service (VDRS) is no longer updating vaccination records.
If a patient believes there is missing or incorrect vaccination data on their records, they now need to re-visit the site where they had their vaccination and ask for their record to be updated.
They can also contact the ICB if the site has closed, or it has been more than 365 days since their vaccination. Email the ICB's Vaccinations Team kmicb.vaccinations@nhs.net
Find the new guidance.

The national vaccine programme manages a process to have vaccines given in other countries verified and added to people's records, this includes Scotland and Wales.

The process involves booking an appointment to take evidence of vaccines given. These need to be verified, after which they are added to your vaccine records.

You need to book through the national website. It includes a postcode search which will also show options outside of Kent and Medway: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/tell-nhs-about-coronavirus-vaccinations-abroad/ 

Travel

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

It is a traveller’s responsibility to check individual requirements. If needed, people in England who have both vaccine doses can demonstrate their vaccination status via the NHS App.

Those without access to the app can request a vaccination status letter from the NHS by phoning 119.  

Fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding

Yes. The Covid-19 virus increases the risk for pregnant women needing hospitalisation and the potential of premature birth. The vaccines are recommended to protect you and your baby from severe illness and premature birth. 

Pregnant women are also encouraged to have the flu jab and the whooping cough vaccine.

Read more about the vaccine and fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding on the NHS.uk website

No, you don’t need to stop breastfeeding. Read more about the vaccine and fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding on the NHS.uk website

Women trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination and there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility.

Read more about the vaccine and fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding on the NHS.uk website

Read more about the vaccine and fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding on the NHS.uk website

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has also updated its guidance about the vaccine and pregnancy.

On its website you can find questions and answers and links to more information to help make informed decisions about vaccination in pregnancy.

Vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds

They will be offered the Pfizer vaccine.

12 to 15-year-olds will be offered two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Parents or carers of children aged between 12 and 15-years-old can book an appointment at one of the clinics running across Kent and Medway.

Yes. Home-schooled children can receive their vaccine at a vaccination clinic and parents can book on the national booking system for their child's first and second dose.

First dose of the vaccine

Read the latest information on who can get the vaccine on the NHS.uk website.

Yes. The offer of a vaccine remains open to everyone who is eligible regardless of when you were first offered it.

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.

Evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccines against other variants shows it is particularly important to get your second dose for maximum protection.

The latest guidance to the NHS is to give second doses eight weeks after the first dose. Unless there are exceptional circumstances you will not be offered a second dose earlier than eight weeks.

If you attend a walk-in clinic for a second dose earlier than eight weeks you are likely to be turned away.

Everyone should receive a vaccination card when they have 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 are generally having the same vaccine for both their first and second doses. The booster dose now being given will be Pfizer bivalent regardless of which vaccines were given for earlier doses. This is the nationally approved approach by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

AstraZeneca (AZ)

The very latest advice is that people who have had only one dose of AZ can now have another vaccine as their second dose. Clinical evidence shows that a mixed schedule of vaccines gives a good immune response, and the advice is not to delay getting a second dose.

From December 2021, the national booking service will allow people who had AZ as a first dose to book second doses at clinics using Pfizer or Moderna.

You can now have the second vaccinations from a different site to where you got your first dose.

If you have a booked second dose appointment please keep it or make sure you cancel if you cannot make it or arrange an alternative appointment.

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 will be able to get your vaccine another time.

If you are symptom-free you can have the vaccine.

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.

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 in the early stages of the vaccination programme some people were 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

During the seasonable vaccination programme, vaccines will be available at pharmacies or walk-in clinics. These will be advertised when the seasonal vaccine campaign launches.

There is a national website for finding a walk-in clinic by entering your postcode: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/find-a-walk-in-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-site/ 

If you are immunosuppressed, there are two clinics in Canterbury in February (2024) listed on our map Walk in Covid-19 clinics - Google My Maps

During the seasonable vaccination programme, vaccines will be available at pharmacies or walk-in clinics. These will be advertised when the seasonal vaccine campaign launches.

Find out more at NHS.uk

During the seasonable vaccination programme, if you are unable to have a vaccine at your GP practice, you will need to attend either a pharmacy or walk-in clinics offering the Covid-19 vaccine. These will be advertised when the seasonal vaccine campaign launches.

Patients who are recorded by their GP surgery as housebound will get home visits for the vaccines. 

GP-led teams are overseeing vaccination of housebound 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. 

 

What to expect when attending your vaccination appointment

When you arrive for your appointment, 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.

Every effort is being made to make the process as smooth as possible but some waiting may be unavoidable.

You may have to queue outside, so please dress appropriately. 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.

No, unless your booking is for a family booking and everyone has been booked in for a vaccination, please make every effort to come to your appointment alone.

Please check with the site before you attend. Please also follow any other rules that are in place at sites.

All healthcare staff will be wearing a face covering. 

 

Guidance was issued in June 2022 to NHS services, encouraging them to return to pre-pandemic policies on infection control. This covers mask wearing and other issues like social distancing.

The guidance still requires mask wearing by staff and patients in certain circumstances and does allow for local approaches based on individual risk assessments.

Invitations to be vaccinated

If you are registered with a GP you will be invited, using the contact details your GP has.

If you are not registered with a GP use the online search on www.nhs.uk

If you are registered with a GP, please make sure they have your correct contact details. 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 do not need your NHS number to book a vaccine or use a walk-in clinic.

However, if you need to find your NHS number it is a 10 digit number and should be on any letter or document you have received from the NHS, including prescriptions, test results, and hospital referral or appointment letters.

There is an online tool for finding your NHS number if you do not have any information with it on. 

The vaccines

The Astra Zeneca (AZ) vaccine is no longer available as part of the vaccination programme in the UK.

Please contact the Vaccination Team if you need further clarification, email kmicb.vaccinations@nhs.net

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.

No. There will not be open choice of which vaccine to have. Any vaccines that are available 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.

The National Booking Service will use the information you provide to only show clinics that provide the vaccine recommended for you.

 

The vaccines available in the UK 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.

Find out more about the vaccines here. 

The Covid-19 vaccines do not contain egg or animal products.

The vaccines are suitable for people of all faiths.

You can find out about the ingredients in the vaccines:

Local progress

You can find updates on our local vaccination programme along with links to nationally published data on our updates page.

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