Medical Advice

Why it is important to have a vaccine

People in supported living settings have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been due to a combination of; a heightened risk of severe outcomes following COVID-19 infection and the risk of outbreaks in closed settings. The introduction of the vaccine has made a crucial difference in saving the lives of supported living residents and colleagues.

Although the government has seen a strong take-up of vaccination among among supported living residents, there are some who cannot be vaccinated and some for whom, the vaccine is less effective. A number of residents will therefore continue to be at greater risk of the consequences of COVID-19. This winter, a potential combination of COVID-19 and flu would be life threatening for those among supported living residents who are at high risk due to their age, underlying health conditions, or a disability.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is the best way that you can keep yourself and the people you support safe from the effects of the virus.

The vaccine does not give 100% protection against getting COVID-19. However, the latest study findings show COVID-19 infection rates are three times lower for double vaccinated people. The vaccine will make you better protected from severe illness and death as a result of COVID-19. Analysis carried out by Public Health England (PHE) on the direct and indirect impact of the vaccination programme on infections and mortality, suggests the vaccination programme, as of 15 July 2021, has prevented between 11 and 12.5 million infections and between 35,200 and 38,600 deaths since the start of the vaccination programme.

There is no guarantee that the vaccine will prevent you from passing on a COVID-19 infection. However, evidence suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine makes the spread of infection much less likely: research by PHE shows that those who do become infected 3 weeks after receiving one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to their household contacts than those who were unvaccinated.

Each of the vaccines has been tested on tens of thousands of people across the world and over 30 million people have taken the vaccine in the UK. More than 75% of adults in the UK have taken both doses. They have been tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, representative of the UK population and of all ages between 18–84.

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Not all COVID-19 vaccines are the same. The AstraZeneca vaccine tends to cause fewer side effects after the second dose. Pfizer and Moderna cause more side effects after the second dose. The very common side effects are the same and should still only last a day or two.

Very common side effects in the first day or two include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection
  • feeling tired
  • headache, aches and chills

You may also have flu like symptoms with episodes of shivering and shaking for a day or two. However, a high temperature could also indicate that you have COVID-19 or another infection. You can rest and take the normal dose of paracetamol (follow the advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better.

An uncommon side effect is swollen glands in the armpit or neck on the same side as the arm where you had the vaccine. This can last for around 10 days, but if it lasts longer you need to see your doctor. If you are due for a mammogram in the few weeks after the vaccine, then you should mention that when you attend.

Symptoms 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) so that they can assess you properly. You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines online through the Yellow Card scheme or by downloading the Yellow Card app.

Recently there have been reports of an extremely rare but serious condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccination. Some people with this condition have suffered life changing effects and some have died. These cases are being carefully reviewed but the risk factors for this condition are not yet clear.

Although this condition remains extremely rare, there is a higher risk in people after the first dose of the AZ vaccine. To date and overall, just over 10 people develop this condition for every million doses of AZ vaccine given. This is seen more often in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 4 weeks following vaccination.

Similar conditions can also occur naturally, and clotting problems are a common complication of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. An increased risk has not yet been seen after other COVID-19 vaccines in the UK.

It is important to put the risk of a blood clot into context. Based on the figures from the UK medicines regulator, the BBC recently published an article which explained that there is an 11 in a million chance of serious harm due to vaccine side-effects for a 25-year-old and a 4 in a million chance of serious harm due to vaccine side-effects for a 55-year-old.  In comparison, there is a 1 in a million chance of being struck by lightning this year.

The average age of people in intensive care is 60, but people much younger have been seriously ill and died too, with thousands more still suffering the effects of Long Covid after what might have been a mild initial case.

Anyone can get Covid-19, including young  people, and anyone can spread it. Getting vaccinated is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and others around you from the virus, vaccines reduce infections, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19.

Vaccines offer important protection to reduce risk, but they don’t make you invincible. Protection from any vaccine takes time to build up. In general, the older you are the longer it takes. It will take at least two weeks in younger people and at least three weeks in older people before you can  expect to have a good antibody response. Even better protection then comes from the second dose, so it’s really important that everyone gets their second vaccination. You will be contacted to arrange a date for your second appointment unless you have already booked via the national booking system.

No, you can’t. But it’s possible to have caught the virus and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination. If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, stay at home and arrange to have a test. If you need more information on coronavirus symptoms, check nhs.uk

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered COVID-19 vaccines at the same time as people of the same age or risk group. In the USA, around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated mainly with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and no safety concerns have been identified.

Evidence on COVID-19 vaccines is being continuously reviewed by the World Health Organization and the regulatory bodies in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age who are coming for their first dose. Anyone who has already started vaccination and is offered a second dose whilst pregnant, should have a second dose with the same vaccine unless they had a serious side effect after the first dose.

You can have a Covid-19 vaccine if you are breastfeeding. There is no evidence that the vaccine has any effect on the chances of becoming pregnant and there is no need to avoid pregnancy after being vaccinated.

The vaccine can’t give you or your baby Covid-19. Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccine. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you.

There is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility, or your chances of becoming pregnant. If you are concerned, please search ‘A guide to Covid-19 vaccination – All women of childbearing age, those currently pregnant or breastfeeding’ on gov.uk for more information.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains a tiny amount of ethanol. Less than what you would find in some of your daily groceries like bread. Faith Leaders and Muslim Scholars have said that the vaccine is not Haram.

As a frontline social care worker, you are eligible for the flu vaccine. Flu vaccination is important because:

  • if you’re at higher risk from coronavirus, you’re also more at risk of problems from flu
  • if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
  • it’ll help to reduce pressure on the NHS and social care staff who may be dealing with coronavirus
  • if you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It’ll be effective at helping to prevent flu.

On 9th September 2021, the government announced the beginning of 6 weeks of consultation in relation to mandatory COVID-19 and flu vaccinations for all frontline health and social care workers in England. This has the potential to make covid and flu vaccinations mandatory across all our services.

You can find out more about the flu vaccine on this page: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/

The approved Covid-19 vaccines are suitable for people of all faiths. They don’t contain any components of animal origin or foetal cells.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains a tiny amount of ethanol. Less than what you would find in some of your daily groceries like bread. Faith Leaders and Muslim Scholars have said that the vaccine is not Haram.

Yes – the Covid-19 vaccines currently approved in the UK does not contain any components of animal origin.

The NHS continues to lead the vaccination process. It’s easy to arrange a vaccination. You can book online through the national booking service or call 119. You can also visit one of hundreds of walk-in centres across the country without the need to book in advance.  Find your nearest centre.

Your Manager will also be able to help and advise you about the easiest and quickest way to book a vaccination.

Need to find out more?

If you have any more questions about the vaccine not covered here, we are keen to help and advise you. Please get in touch via the details on our Contact page and our vaccine support team will get in touch as soon as possible. Your Manager would also be happy to help and the link below on the government website provides detailed information which is updated with any new developments.


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