The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and approved. It gives you the best protection against the virus and is saving lives. 

The vaccine is now available to anyone in England aged 16 and over.

Latest walk-in clinics

Facts about the vaccination

  • The vaccine is safe, effective and approved.
  • The vaccine is free.
  • Over 18s receive two doses, around 8 weeks apart. Under 18s currently receive a single dose.
  • Some people may require a third or booster dose and will be contacted by their GP or the NHS to invite them to have it.
  • The vaccine is given as an injection in your upper arm. 
  • The vaccine does not contain alcohol or animal products.

Remember, you should still follow current coronavirus restrictions and guidance, including ‘hands, face and space’ advice even after you have had your vaccination.

What you need to know about getting the vaccine

Everyone aged 16 or over can now have their Covid-19 vaccination.

You are strongly advised to have your vaccination, unless you experience severe allergic reactions, in which case you should speak to your GP first. 

When you have your jab, you will be given a leaflet with all the information you need. 

You can also find out more at nhs.uk/covidvaccination 

  • If you are aged 16 or 17 you will currently receive a single dose of the vaccine
  • If you are aged 18 or over, you will need to have a second dose eight weeks after your first one for the best protection from the virus
  • Some people may require a third or booster dose and will be contacted by their GP or the NHS to invite them to have it
  • It takes your body a few weeks to build up protection, so you should still follow all current restrictions and guidance

The Covid Vaccination programme is led by the NHS, commissioned by NHS England and overseen locally by Black Country & West Birmingham CCG and local Primary Care Networks. The local authority’s role is to support the NHS to deliver the programme and ensure an equitable offer is available to those across the city. You can find more information regarding this from the Black Country & West Birmingham CCG.

Common myths about the COVID-19 vaccine

Myth: The vaccine gives you COVID-19
FACT: The vaccine does not give you COVID-19. It helps your body to create antibodies to protect you against COVID-19 if you later encounter it.

Myth: “The vaccine is not safe, it went through the approval process quickly”
FACT:  The vaccines have gone through clinical trials and safety checks like all other medicines and approved by Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Myth: “People that take the vaccine will suffer severe side effects”
FACT: Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week

Myth: “I’ve already had COVID-19 so I’m immune and don’t need it”
FACT: We don’t know that you can’t have COVID-19 twice, so even if you have already had the virus, you should still have your vaccine for maximum protection. 

Myth: “The vaccine contains pork”
FACT: There is no pork, foetal or other animal material, including eggs, in the vaccine. 

Myth: “I have been reading the vaccine will change my DNA”
FACT: The vaccine will not change your DNA.  The vaccines offer protection against the infection, instructing your body to develop an immune system response.

Myth: “The vaccine contains microchips for tracking purposes”
FACT: The vaccines do not contain any tracking technology.

Myth: "The vaccine will make me infertile"
FACT: Experts are clear – there’s no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Midwives and doctors are reassuring women on any misinformation they may have seen and have resources to make sure people are fully informed.

FAQs
Getting the vaccine – HOW?
How do I sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine is now available to anyone aged 16 or over in England. Vaccinations can be booked online or by calling NHS 119.

You can also get your vaccine without having to book at one of the walk-in clinics across the city. For more information and the latest locations visit Walk-in vaccinations.

How is the COVID-19 vaccine given?

The Covid-19 vaccination is given as an injection in your upper arm. People over 18 will have two doses around 8 weeks apart, and people aged 17 and under will received a single dose.

Do I have to pay for the vaccine?

No, the vaccine is available free from the NHS.

  • 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, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.

Can you give COVID-19 to anyone after having the vaccine?

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine will reduce the risk of you becoming seriously ill if you do catch it and will help to prevent you passing it on to others.

However, it is important to still follow Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air guidance, to protect yourself and people around you even after you have had your vaccine.

What happens at the vaccination?

Your vaccination should take 30 to 45 minutes.

This will include answering questions about your medical history and having the vaccination.

Can I go back to work after getting the vaccine?

You should be able to work as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving.

Do I still need to follow restrictions after I’ve had my vaccine?

Yes. The vaccine protects you from COVID-19, but you can still carry the virus and pass it on to others. This means you must continue to follow all guidance and advice, including hands, face and space.

 

Can I still attend my vaccination appointment if I’m unwell?

If you are unwell, it’s better to wait until recovered to have your vaccine, but you should try to have it as soon as possible. You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a COVID-19 test or unsure if you are fit and well.

I am worried that attending my vaccination will increase the risk of me catching Covid-19

The NHS and partners have ensured that all vaccination sites adhere to robust rules and regulations to ensure the safety of patients and staff. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is requested not to attend their vaccination appointment.

Getting the vaccine – WHO?
I am clinically extremely vulnerable, what does getting the vaccine mean for me? 

The vaccine will give you the best protection against serious illness caused by the virus. If you have not yet had it, you should do so as soon as possible. Your local NHS will make sure you receive the vaccine as safely as possible, as well as any care and support needed.

Do I need the COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve had the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. If you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.

Can I still get COVID-19 even if I’m vaccinated?

Some people may still become infected with COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated (although this should be less severe). The vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 infection.

Can I get the vaccine if I currently have COVID-19?

People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive their COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered. This is to avoid wrongly attributing any new symptom or the progression of symptoms to the vaccine (and to prevent infecting anyone else in the vaccination centre).

Can I get the vaccine if I’ve had COVID-19 in the past?

Yes, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine would be expected to boost any pre-existing COVID-19 antibodies.

I’ve been told to shield, can I stop shielding after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination?

Although the advice to shield ended on 31 March, you should still take extra care. Everyone given the vaccine must continue to follow current guidance and regulations, practise social distancing, wear a face mask and wash their hands frequently.

Getting the vaccine – WHERE?
Can I walk-in and get my vaccination without booking?

Walk-in vaccinations, without needing to book, are now available across the city. For the latest information and locations please visit Walk in Vaccinations.

Can I pay for a COVID-19 vaccine privately or at a pharmacy?

The COVID-19 vaccination is only available through the NHS to eligible groups and it is a free vaccination.

I would like to attend my vaccine appointment but I have no one to take me there. Can anyone help me?

For people who do not have friends or family to take them to their vaccine appointment, NHS responders can help free of charge. Their number is 0808 196 3646.

Getting the vaccine – SECOND DOSE
Do I need both doses of the vaccine?

Currently anyone aged under 18 is offered a single dose only. People aged 18 or over should have two doses, around eight weeks apart to make sure they have the best protection from the virus.

I've already had my first dose of the vaccine, where do I go for my second dose?

If you are below 18, you only currently need to have a single dose.

If you are aged 18 or over, you should have two doses, with an eight week gap between them. If you do not have your second dose booked, you can attend and of the walk-in clinics that are open around the city.

After vaccination
Do I still need to wear a mask?

Although there is no longer a legal requirement for you to wear a mask, you are still recommended to wear one in enclosed public spaces and on public transport, even if you have been fully vaccinated. The vaccine protects you against serious illness from the virus, but it may still be possible for you to pass it on to others.

Do I still need to social distance?

You no longer need to stay 2m away from people you do not live with. However, you should still be careful, meet outdoors where possible or let fresh air in if meeting at home or in other enclosed settings, even if you are fully vaccinated. The vaccine protects you against serious illness from the virus, but it may still be possible for you to pass it on to others.

Do I still need to follow restrictions?

Yes. The vaccine protects you from COVID-19, but you can still carry the virus and pass it on to others. This means you must continue to follow all guidance and advice, including hands, face and space.

Do I have to self-isolate if told to, even if I’ve had my vaccine?

Until you are fully vaccinated, you must continue to self-isolate if told to do so. You are classed as fully vaccinated 14 days after you have had your second dose. Once you are fully vaccinated, you no longer have to self-isolate if told to do so, but are advised to take a PCR test to be sure.

Can I still pass the virus on?

Yes. The vaccine protects you from COVID-19, but you can still have the virus and pass it on to other people. That is why it is important to continue following advice and guidance in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Can I go out and meet friends now?

You should continue to follow current lockdown guidance and advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect others. Your vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from severe illness from COVID-19, but you could still pass it on to other people.

My friend has had their vaccine, but I haven’t, can we meet up?

You should both continue to follow current lockdown guidance and advice. Although your friend has some protection from the virus, they could still be carrying it and pass it on to you.

Do I still need to get tested?

Yes. The vaccine gives you protection against COVID-19, but you may still pass it on to other people. Routine testing means that we can monitor and reduce the spread of the virus and spot any new variants.

About the vaccine
How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine works 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.  

How has the vaccine been developed so quickly?

The speed of the development and approval of the vaccine is due to increased funding and scientific collaboration across the world. The global effort has allowed scientists to work at record speed and complete work in months rather than years. 

The vaccine you will be offered has been approved as safe and effective by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

What vaccines for COVID-19 are currently available?

The Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen (also known as Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in the UK. 

Currently the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are available in this area. 

All of these vaccines have been shown to be safe, offer high levels of protection and have been given regulatory approval by the MHRA. More information about these vaccines is available here:

How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

On 22 February 2021, Public Health England published findings showing the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The latest data shows that one dose of this vaccine reduces the risk of catching infection by more than 70%, rising to 85% after the second dose.
 
Read the findings here

Public Health England is also monitoring the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine and will report the findings soon. Previously, the Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) found that this vaccine offers 70% protection 22 days after the first dose and reduces the risk of catching the virus by 80% after the second dose.

Are the vaccines effective for older people?

On 1 March 2021, a Public Health England study showed that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among older people. The study found that in the over 80’s, a single dose of either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation, around 3-4 weeks after the jab. 

The data also shows infections in over 70s decreasing, from around 3 weeks after one dose of either vaccine.

For more information read the study
 

Can I choose which vaccine I have?

Although you can’t choose which vaccine you have, you will be offered one based partly on your age. This means that if you are aged under 40, you will be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. All of the vaccines are safe and effective, so you should have your vaccine as soon as you can.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain any animal products or egg?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any animal products or egg.

How do I find out the ingredients of the vaccines?

A detailed review of the vaccines and their ingredients have been provided by the MHRA and can be found at the following links:

The British Islamic Medical Association have produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community. reviewing the ingredients of the vaccines.

Can you catch COVID-19 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.

Will everyone under 30 now get the Pfizer vaccine?

MHRA has advised that it is preferrable for people under the aged of 40 to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Vaccine safety
What are the COVID-19 vaccine side effects?

Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.

If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.

If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is 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 these vaccines are safe and highly effective, 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. 

I’ve read that the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t safe and can cause blood clots.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), who approve the medicines we use in England, reviewed this, and have said that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the extremely rare (about 4 in 1 million) risks of blood clots.

They have said that people should still have their vaccine when asked to do so and that anyone who had an AstraZeneca first dose should still receive AstraZeneca for their second dose.

They also recommended that people under 40 should preferably be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines when it is their turn.

You can read the Government's statement about the risk of blood clots for more information, and see their latest statement about under 40s

Can I have the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

There is no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant, however you should discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor or midwife first. 

The JCVI recently updated their advice and now recommends that all pregnant women should be offered the vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on age and risk. 

They have also recently reviewed vaccine safety during pregnancy, based on data from the USA where over 90,000 pregnant women have received mainly the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which did not raise any safety concerns. Therefore, they have advised that pregnant women should be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, where available. There is no evidence to suggest that any other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed. 

You can have the vaccine if you are breastfeeding.

You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby Covid-19.

Guidance and advice for pregnant women Covid-19 and vaccines is available from the Royal College of Midwives.

Can I still have the vaccine if I have an allergic reaction?

Tell staff before you are vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

You should not have the vaccine if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction to medicines, vaccines or food.

If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

Can the vaccine alter your genetic material/DNA?

There is no evidence to suggest that individual genetic material will undergo an alteration after receiving the vaccine.

16300