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Covid: When will I get the vaccine?

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

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More than 34.9 million people in the UK have had a first dose of a Covid vaccine.

A second dose has been given to more than 16 million people – nearly 30% of all adults.

They assessed that the risk of a very rare blood clot after a first dose is slightly higher in people in their 30s than in their 40s when the risk of being infected with coronavirus is very low, as it is now.

Who is being offered the vaccine now?

The government says all adults will be offered their first dose by the end of July – in decreasing age order:

  • 40-49 years
  • 30-39 years
  • 18-29 years

Some groups at higher risk of needing hospital treatment from Covid are urged to take up the offer of vaccination promptly:

  • Men
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities
  • People with a BMI over 30
  • Those in deprived neighbourhoods
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Can pregnant women get the vaccine?

The UK’s vaccine committee now says they should be offered a Covid jab when other people their age get one.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferable, they say, because data relating to 90,000 pregnant women has not raised any safety concerns. Data on how the AZ vaccine works in pregnant women may be available in the near future.

Who has already been offered a first dose?

Those most at risk from Covid and those caring for them were vaccinated first. They include:

  • frontline health and social care staff
  • elderly care home residents
  • clinically extremely vulnerable people
  • over-16s with some health conditions which increase their risk from Covid
  • adult carers of disabled people and younger adults in care homes
  • people aged 40 and over in England
  • people aged 45 and over in Scotland
  • people aged 40 and over in Wales, with some health boards offering it those over 30
  • people aged 30 and over in Northern Ireland

When will I get my second dose?

Everyone should be offered a second vaccine dose within 12 weeks of the first jab to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

First doses offered daily have now been overtaken by second jabs.

Are two doses needed?

The approved vaccines require two doses to provide the best protection.

In the UK, people were initially told they would get a second dose three to four weeks after the first. But to ensure a faster rollout of first doses, the UK’s chief medical officers extended the gap to 12 weeks.

This decision has been proved correct by studies which show that one vaccine dose gives prolonged protection and cuts infections in all age groups. A second dose is still required, however, for maximum protection.

What jab might I get and can I mix and match vaccines?

But the UK’s medicine regulator – the MHRA – says the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks for most people.

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If you have already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you should also have a second dose. Only those who suffered a rare blood clot after the first dose should not, the regulator says.

Do the vaccines work against new variants?

All three vaccines used in the UK have been shown to be effective at preventing people from becoming seriously ill and dying from Covid.

Developers are updating their jabs to target the new variants and plan to have them ready by the autumn.

They are likely to be offered as a routine booster for some groups.

How many vaccine doses are there?

The UK has ordered eight vaccines and expects to receive 517 million doses – more than enough for every adult to receive two.

These include another 60 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine (added to the original order of 40 million) to be used as part of a booster programme in the autumn. Vaccines supplied by CureVac will be designed to protect against the most concerning new variants.

Will children be vaccinated?

Covid vaccines are being trialled for children by most companies. Pfizer has released early data which suggests children aged 12-15 are well protected, with no unusual side effects.

In the UK, the Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for use in over-16s and the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines in over-18s.

Getting a Covid vaccine is not compulsory because experts say this wouldn’t help create public confidence. But making it mandatory for NHS staff and care workers is being considered.

What about people with allergies?

A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction – known as anaphylaxis – after the Pfizer vaccine, but the UK regulator says these are “very rare”.

You should discuss any serious allergies with your healthcare professional before being vaccinated.

Most people will not be affected in any way, although side-effects with all Covid vaccines are possible.

The most common ones include a sore arm, headache, chills, fatigue and nausea.

They are part of the body’s normal immune response to vaccines and tend to resolve within a day or two.

media captionWhy it is normal for some people to experience short-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccines

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