Covid-19 vaccination - frequently asked questions

Page updated 22 January 2021

Prioritisation of the vaccine

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.

People will be invited by either phone call, text message, email or letter. Please be patient and wait to be contacted. Services are under considerable pressure right now. 

NHS staff across Kent and Medway are working hard to set up vaccination services across all areas. This is a rolling programme which will take several months to vaccinate all of the priority groups. Services in place are listed on the main vaccine page.

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.

If you are a frontline health or social care worker your employer will provided information about how to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Most health and care staff will be vaccinated through the hospital-based services. In some cases GP-based services may vaccinate staff also.

All appointments will be booked in advance. Read the national leaflet for:

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. 

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.

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.

Known scams:

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.

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.

If your GP practice is not a designated vaccination site you will be invited to attend another site which is responsible for vaccinating patients from your GP surgery. Our list and map of vaccine sites shows the GP surgeries covered by each of the vaccine sites.

There have been some changes to allow for vaccine to be distributed more widely within groups of practices working together. However there are still specific requirements for any site providing the Covid-19 vaccines. At this point, (12 Jan 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.

Home visits will be arranged to vaccinate housebound patients. Please be patient while we sort the arrangements for this for housebound people across the county.

A process for taking the vaccine out to care homes has now been agreed nationally. Residents will be vaccinated by their GP or a vaccinator at their care home. Care homes will be contacted and advised how to arrange the vaccine for their residents.

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.

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.

Different vaccination service across Kent and Medway will be inviting people from the priority groups at different times. This is due to the numbers of people in each group and when sites began vaccinating.

Completing the priority 1 and 2 groups across all areas is a top priority and resources will be directed to support this. However, it is the case that some PCNs will invite priority groups 3 and 4 before others complete groups 1 and 2.

Everyone will be invited for the vaccine. With a programme of this scale a phased approach is necessary. We would ask that people are patient and wait to be contacted directly about when the vaccine is available to them.

While the UK is in a national lockdown, you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Read the Government's guidance on the stay at home order.

However, if you are away when a vaccination invitation comes through, or you are unable to attend your appointment it can be rearranged by contacting the service who sent you the invitation.

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

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 two vaccines approved for use in the UK.

  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • AstraZeneca/Oxford

Both have 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 22 December)

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. On 30 December 2020 new guidance to the NHS on rolling out the vaccine is to maximise the number of people from the priority groups recieving a first dose. This means second doses will typically be scheduled for around 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 vaccine was approved for use in the UK on 30 December 2020.
  • 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. On 30 December 2020 new guidance to the NHS on rolling out the vaccine is to maximise the number of people from the priority groups recieving a first dose. This means second doses will typically be scheduled for around 12 weeks after the first dose.
  • 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

Data on the progress is published nationally. Information for Kent and Medway is published weekly on Thursdays.

Visit this page: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-vaccinations/ 

Scroll down to the list of Excel files under the heading Weekly Data. Open the latest file and select the tab called  Vaccinations by ICS STP & Age

The vaccine is a critical part of beating the pandemic, protecting the most vulnerable and helping everyone return to more normal lives. The NHS in Kent and Medway is committed to ensuring there is a local vaccination service in each of the 42 primary care network areas.

NHS staff across Kent and Medway are working hard to set up vaccination services across all areas. This is a rolling programme with services opening in phases linked to national processes.

From the week of 25 January all parts of Kent and Medway will be covered by a GP-led vaccination service.

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