Sawston Medical Centre, Linton Health Centre, Barley Surgery
Market Hill Surgery & Shelford Health Centre
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Sawston Medical Centre, Linton Health Centre, Barley Surgery, Market Hill Surgery & Shelford Health Centre

The COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

Frequently Asked Questions

About the vaccine:

Can I get Coronavirus from the vaccine?

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

The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:

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

If you have the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test.

If you need more information on symptoms visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/ 

I have had the flu vaccine, do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?

The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but ideally separated by 7 days.

How do the vaccines work? 

The vaccines work by making a protein from the virus that is important for creating protection.  

The protein works in the same way they do for other vaccines by stimulating the immune system to make antibodies and cells to fight the infection. 

Will the vaccine protect me?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine.

The vaccine has been shown to be effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

Can I have the vaccine if I’m immunocompromised?

There may be a very small number of people with very complex or severe immunological problems who can’t make any response at all to the vaccine – but the vaccine should not do any harm to these individuals. Individuals meeting these criteria may want to discuss the vaccine further with their specialist doctor.

We are now in lockdown – will vaccines still be provided / should I still attend my appointment?

Yes. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and permitted as a reason to leave your house during lockdown. Vaccinations will continue as normal. If you have booked or are offered an appointment, please attend it. The place that you choose to have your vaccine will keep you safe from COVID-19 through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting and having social distancing in waiting areas. Please wear a face mask to your appointment. You should also take the usual steps to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.

Can I pick what vaccine I want?

No, you will not be given a choice. Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while. 

Is one better than the other?   

The important point for any vaccine is whether the MHRA approves it for use – if it does then that means it’s a worthwhile vaccine to have and people should have it if they are eligible. Data from clinical trials does suggest the Pfizer vaccine offers marginally more protection, but both are classed as highly effective. 

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine privately?

No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS for the moment. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police 101 service and/or Local Trading Standards.

Will the vaccine work with the new strain?

There is no evidence currently that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccine we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccine. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective. 

Why are second doses being postponed?

The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed a longer timeframe between first and second doses so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection. This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.

Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time.

How long will the vaccination appointment take?

Your vaccination appointment should take no longer than 30 minutes. This includes giving your consent, having the injection, and the 15 minute wait afterwards.

I am in one of the priority groups. Why do I have to wait?

The COVID-19 vaccines will become available as they are approved for use and as each batch is manufactured. So every dose is needed to protect those at highest risk. You will be called in as soon as there is enough vaccine available.

Some people who are housebound or live in a care home and who can’t get to a local vaccination centre may have to wait for supply of the right type of vaccine. This is because only some vaccines can be transported between people’s homes.

Does the vaccination contain animal products?

Neither vaccination includes ingredients of animal origin. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.

Can I have the vaccination if I have had allergic reactions to other things before?

Anyone with a previous history of allergic reactions to the ingredients of the vaccine should not receive it, but those with any other allergies such as a food allergy can now have the vaccine.

Can I have the vaccine if I am pregnant / hoping to fall pregnant soon/ breastfeeding?

The MHRA have updated their guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks.

Attending the vaccine appointment: 

We are in national lockdown – should I still attend my appointment?

Yes, our COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to run as planned across the country. If you, or someone you know, has an appointment booked please do still attend.

We ask that you arrive on time for your appointment to ensure we have a steady flow of people being vaccinated and to avoid groups of people waiting outside the surgery. Limited seating is available inside for people who cannot wait outside due to mobility issues or other health concerns. You may have to wait outside so please do dress appropriately for the weather.

Why do I have to travel to a different GP practice for my vaccine?

Your GP practice is part of a group of local GP practices looking after the healthcare of patients in the local area. The vaccinations will be delivered to one GP practice which will act as a hub to give the vaccinations. Using one location means we can use all our skilled staff in one location to provide the vaccination clinics. We have also chosen a location that allows us to administer the vaccination safely. You should make all possible efforts to get the vaccination as soon as it is offered to you, however, if you cannot travel to this location for your vaccine then you will not miss your opportunity for a vaccine and will be offered one at a later date.

I need help to get to my appointment – can you help?

Your Local Authority has a team of volunteer drivers to help you get to your appointment. You can call them between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday on 0345 045 5219 to book your transport. We would ask that you consider contacting a friend or relative who may be able to drive you to the appointment if you think they may be able to help in the first instance, as our volunteer driver team will have limited capacity. You can also contact our Social Navigation team, who will be able to put you in touch with people that may be able to help you. You can ring them on 01223 627745.

Can I bring someone to support me at my appointment?

We are asking patients to come to their appointment on their own unless they are in a wheelchair, but friends or relatives are more than welcome to wait in the car park if they have driven together. We would recommend only travelling or asking for support from someone within your household or support bubble in line with current COVID-19 guidance.

If you need assistance from a carer or relative to walk to and through the vaccination centre, they are also welcome to accompany you as long as they wear a face mask and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Will you pay for my transport?

Sorry, but we cannot cover any transportation costs.

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.   

The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said that both of these vaccines have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.   

As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products.  

There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.

If I say no to this appointment, when can I get another slot?

We can look for other dates on the phone now, or further appointments will be available in the coming weeks when we will hold other clinics.

What if I get stuck in traffic?

Please call 0300 234 5555 to let us know.

Where can I park?

Providing everyone follows the instructions given by the car park attendants there will be plenty of parking spaces available on site. If you live close to Granta Sawston we would encourage you to walk, wherever possible.

Do I have to wear PPE / face mask?

You should wear a face mask when you attend your vaccination appointment. Staff on site will also be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Please remember to use hand sanitiser provided on site and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

What if I am exempt from wearing a mask?

If you are unable to wear a face mask, we ask that you to bring and wear a face visor instead, to ensure the safety of yourself, our staff and the community.

I’m housebound – can you come to me instead?

Due to the nature of the vaccine, the first appointments are being offered at one of the hospital hubs or at the GP practice. We do have plans in place to support the vaccination of people who are housebound when we are able to, and we will update your record to reflect the fact that you are housebound.

Is this a scam?

  • How do I know you’re really calling from the NHS?

You should have received a text message from your local GP Practice letting you know we would be calling, or a telephone call booking you in.

The NHS COVID-19 vaccination is free. You will never be asked for payment or to give your bank details.

Can you book my husband / wife / partner in now too?

If your husband / wife / partner is 75 years old and over, and registered with Granta, we are happy to vaccinate them at the same time as you are having yours.

When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter or are contacted.

Can you book my carer in?

When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter or are contacted.

Who will give me the vaccine?

An appropriately trained member of NHS staff will deliver your vaccination. Each member of staff has received specific COVID-19 vaccination training in advance of delivering the vaccines.

How will the vaccine be administered?

COVID-19 vaccines are administered with an injection needle into the upper arm.

To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advise that the second dose of both the OxfordAstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart.

What happens afterwards, do I have to sit and wait?

You will be given important information on how to look after yourself after the vaccination has taken place. While a member of staff is sharing this information with you, they will pay attention to how you are feeling to ensure that you are not experiencing any immediate reaction from the vaccine.

We ask that you wait for 15 minutes in the vaccination hub area before leaving.

What happens if I do not feel well on the day of my vaccine?

You do not have to cancel or postpone your vaccine if you are suffering with a minor illness, such as a cold. If you are feeling very unwell, the vaccine may be postponed.

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, including a persistent cough, high temperature and/ or loss of taste of smell please contact us to rearrange your appointment and visit https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test to book a test.

Will a translator or BSL interpreter be available?

I’m afraid we will not have translators or BSL interpreters available at this time.

What do I have to bring to my vaccination appointment?

We are asking people to bring their own mask or visor to the vaccination appointment, and to wear it at all times.

Post vaccine:

What side effects can I expect?

These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use.  

For these vaccines, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the tens of thousands of people involved in trials.  

All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA. 

What happens if I feel unwell after the vaccine?

Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111.

If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination (show them the vaccination card if possible) so that they can assess you properly.

You can also report suspected side effects to vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this via https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/.

When will I receive the appointment for the second dose?

We will contact you to book your second dose. Your second dose should be given between 3 to 12 weeks of your first dose.

It is important to have both doses of the same vaccine to give you the best protection.

Once I’m vaccinated, can I see my grandchildren / my children like I would have before the pandemic?

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So, it is important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you.

To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:

  • practise social distancing
  • wear a face mask
  • wash your hands carefully and frequently
  • follow the current guidance – you can find this via www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Will I be completely immune after getting the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

I’ve already been part of the vaccine trial process – do I need another vaccination?

If you are already part of a vaccine trial, please contact the study team by calling them on the number you have been provided with as part of the trial.