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Vaccine information for COVID-19

Types of vaccine

In the UK and Jersey, there are two types of COVID-19 vaccine that are currently being used:

  • Pfizer BioNtech vaccine
  • AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine

Both require two doses to provide the best protection. Both have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

We have limited supplies of the vaccine and so you'll be offered the vaccine that is available. You'll be advised of the vaccine at your appointment.

We would strongly recommend that you have the vaccine that is offered to you. You can choose to wait, however we recommend you receive the vaccine as soon as is possible to keep you safe.

In Jersey, we will be aligning our vaccination programme roll-out with the UK.

Both vaccines have been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulator Agency (MRHA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Protection and immunity

The COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to reduce the chance of you suffering from the disease. Each vaccine has been tested in more than 20,000 people in several different countries and shown to be safe.

Both vaccines offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term. The second dose completes the course and is particularly important for longer term protection.

After one dose of a vaccine, the level of protection from COVID-19 is:

  • Pfizer about 89%
  • AstraZeneca 73%

It takes a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective. You should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection.

Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

Even after receiving your vaccine, you will still need to follow public health guidance to protect yourself and others.

You must continue to:

  • practice physical distancing
  • wear a face mask
  • wash your hands carefully and frequently

Protecting yourself and others from coronavirus

Passing on the virus

Evidence on whether the COVID-19 vaccination reduces the chance of passing on the virus isn't clear. Most vaccines reduce the overall risk of infection, but some vaccinated people may get mild or asymptomatic infection and can still pass the virus on.

It's highly likely that any infection in a vaccinated person will be less severe and that viral shedding will be shortened.

Dose intervals

The decision to increase the interval doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from 21 days to 10 to 12 weeks was made on 6 January by Competent Authority Ministers upon recommendation by the Deputy Medical of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, and the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). It has also been endorsed by the UK medicines regulator, the Medicines and a Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The MHRA authorisation requires that the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Pfizer COVID vaccines should be administered in two doses.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine interval

The AstraZeneca authorisation enables the second dose to be administered between 4 and 12 weeks after the first dose.

Pfizer vaccine interval

Pfizer authorisation states that the second dose should be given at least 3 weeks after the first dose.

Prioritising the first dose

Throughout this 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 as soon as possible.

This is the best way to protect as many people as possible.

Evidence shows that one dose of either vaccine provides a high calculated level of protection from COVID-19.

It will also have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting health services.

Side effects

Like all medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Although you may get some protection from the first dose, having the second dose will give you the best protection against the virus.

Very common side effects include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • general aches, or mild flu like symptoms

Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may mean you have COVID-19 or another infection. An uncommon side effect is the swelling of the glands. These symptoms normally last less than a week.

You should rest and take the normal dose of paracetamol (follow the advice in the packaging). Do not exceed the normal dose.

If your symptoms get worse

If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, contact your GP or healthcare professional. If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination (show them your vaccination card) so that they can assess you properly.

You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. The Yellow Card scheme is the UK system for collecting information on suspected adverse drug reactions to medicines.

You can't catch COVID-19 from the vaccine

You can't catch COVID-19 from the vaccine but it's possible to have caught COVID-19 and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment.

Although a mild fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination, if you have any other COVID-19 symptoms or your fever lasts longer:

  1. isolate at home
  2. call the coronavirus helpline and arrange to have a test

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • new continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.
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