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Below is a range of frequent questions and answers about the Covid-19 vaccine asked by care staff across north central London.

 

Over the past several months during the initial roll out of the vaccine Proud to Care in partnership with the north central London councils and the NHS. During these live webinars social care staff had the opportunity to pose questions to clinician surrounding their concerns. Proud to Care have collated these questions and created the FAQ's page.

All of the answers to these questions have been answered and verified by several NHS medical staff and align with government guidance.  

To view a recording of one of the NCL Covid-19 vaccination webinars please click this: Link - The NCL Covid-19 vaccine webinar slides can be downloaded: HERE

At the time which the media was reporting side effects relating to the A/Z vaccine there had been:

  • 20.2 million doses of Oxford AZ COVID – 19 vaccine had been given.

  • 79 people developed thrombosis with low platelets.

  • Of whom, 44 had a clot in a vein in the head (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis – CVST).

  • Of the 79 people, 19 have sadly died.

  • It seems commoner in younger people, which is the group at least risk of complications of COVID-19 disease.

  • All occurred after the first dose, usually within 28 days.

 

Topics:

Deciding whether to have the covid-19 vaccine

Covid-19 illness and the vaccine

Covid-19 vaccine and pregnancy

Future implications for covid-19 vaccines

Wider safeguards

IPC and PPE requirements 

Updated guidance on the AZ / Oxford vaccine

 

Deciding whether to have the covid-19 vaccine

Refer to credible resources - Managers Toolkit and Public Health England also has some resources that you may find helpful:[TC1] 

Side effects are listed in the information leaflets:

 

Q: Is the vaccine safe?    

Answer:

  • The vaccines have been approved as safe by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)).

  • The vaccines have been through 3 phases of clinical trials with thousands of volunteers with no serious safety concerns.

  • As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process.

  • At your vaccine appointment you will speak to a clinician who will check that you are suitable to receive the vaccine and can answers any that questions that you might have.

 

Q: What How can I support my staff to do I do if my staff if they are hesitant to have the vaccine?      

Answer:

  • It is everyone’s individual choice whether to have the vaccine. We want to make sure everyone makes an informed choice.

  • We would suggest talking to staff about their fears and share the information when it comes available. You might want to do this as a group and give people an opportunity to discuss individually.

  • Do share the information in this FAQ or presentations slides[TC2]  from our webinars with staff.

There are some resources within the Managers toolkit that some managers may find useful in helping staff - Managers Toolkit

Public Health England also has some resources that you may find helpful:[TC3] 

Q: Do younger adults need to have the vaccination as Covid-19 is less serious for them?              

Answer:

Whilst Covid-19 is more serious on average for older people it can still be very serious and at times fatal for younger people. We are also finding people of all ages and levels of fitness can be impacted by long term effects of Covid-19 (long covid). As well as your personal health having the vaccine is likely to reduce the risk to others and higher vaccination rates (in time) will support loosening of lockdown restrictions.

 

Q: Can you take the vaccines if you have any underlying health problems?

Answer:

The vaccine was found to be safe in people with various health conditions, but it is always best to discuss this with your GP beforehand. People with chronic health conditions are often at increased risk of developing complications of Covid-19. They need to vaccine more than most.

 

Q. How do I know the the vaccine is safe for all ethnic backgrounds?

Answer:

The vaccines have been tested with thousands of people from a broad set of ages, ethnicities and long-term conditions. The vaccines have been shown to protect all groups. There is no evidence that side effects were any commoner in people of certain ethnicities or with long term conditions. There is some evidence for one of the vaccines that side effects were less common in older people.

 

Q: What are the side effects?

Answer:

The most common sides effects are pain at the injection sight, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever – which are usual of most vaccines. If you experience side affects you can treat these with medicines for pain such as paracetamol and these side effects should go within 24 to 48 hours.  Most side effects are mild or moderate and go away within a few days of appearing. If side effects such as pain and/or fever are troublesome, they can be treated by medicines for pain and fever such as paracetamol. The common side effects are: pain at injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever.

Rarely the vaccine may give rise to an allergic reaction. All staff giving vaccines have been trained to treat these.

Side effects are listed in the information leaflets:

 

Q: Can people with allergies have the vaccine? 

Answer:

If you have a more common less severe allergy with symptoms such as: sneezing, red eyes, itchy red rash etc.  Yes – you can have the vaccine.

If you  have had a confirmed People with common, non severe allergies can have the vaccine. anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine or a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to any components of the vaccine are advised not to have the vaccine.

Or

Other with other severe allergies (anaphylactic reaction) should speak to their health care professional to obtain advice before having the vaccine.

Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a vaccine, should not have that vaccine. Anyone who has had an anaphylactic reaction to a number of drugs of different sorts, or who has had an anaphylactic reaction without a cause, should not receive the Pfizer vaccine. If you have a history of severe allergies in relation to whichever vaccine, should discuss it with a specialist in allergy.

 

Q: Can I wait delay to having have the vaccine or wait for a different vaccine?

Answer: 

Having the vaccine is individual choice and therefore it is important to make an informed choice about whether to delay having the vaccine.

The NHS states the 1st dose of the covid vaccine gives you good protection and the second dose will give you longer lasting protection from the covid disease. It is everybody’s choice whether they have the vaccine. However, not taking the vaccine up means you are not protected and could become unwell.

We want everyone to be able to make an informed choice with accurate information.

The vaccines have had extensive trials and by mid-January millions of people in the UK have been vaccinated with no impacts beyond the side effects that are included in patient information leaflets. 

The vaccines have had extensive trials and by mid-January millions of people in the UK have been vaccinated with no impacts beyond the side effects that are included in patient information leaflets. 

 

Q: Can I have just one dose or do I need to have both?

Answer:

It is your choice whether to have the vaccine and you could chose not to have a second dose.

However, whilst one dose does give you significant protection a second dose will give you the maximum protection for the longest time possible.

 

Q: Does consent for the first dose mean you agree to the 2nd dose?      

Answer:

No – you , you have need to give consent to both doses of the vaccine, these are recorded in separate documents

 

Q. Can I have the vaccine of my choice, such as the Oxford/AZ?           

Answer:

It is not usually possible to offer different vaccines to people.

Give the recent updates relating to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, it has been recommended that under 30’s have an alternative vaccine to Oxford A/Z and will be offered either the Moderna or Pfizer. All those who are eligible for the vaccine and over 30 will be offered anyone of the three vaccines. The vaccine you are give on the first dose will be the same vaccine you are offered for your second dose.   You will be offered the vaccine that is available at your local venue. There are no major differences between the vaccines. Given the risks of covid-19 you are highly recommended to have whichever vaccine is offered as soon as possible.

Q: Do you need to have the flu vaccine to have the Covid-19 vaccine?         

Answer:

No, but we recommend having the flu vaccine to protect yourself, the people you care for and your friends and family.

 

Contents of vaccines:

 

Q: Does the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccine contain blood products? 

Answer:

No – To list some of the ingredients: Sodium, Potassium, sucrose, cholesterol, and magnesium most of these are found naturally in the body.

 

Q: Do any of the vaccines contain materials from abortions?

Answer:

 None of the vaccines contain any materials from abortions.

The virus used in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is grown on cells derived from a single legal termination carried out in 1972. None of these cells are part of the final vaccine. The Vatican and the British Islamic Medical Association have said that, if this is the only vaccine offered to an individual, it is morally acceptable.

 

Q: Do the vaccines contain aluminum?

Answer:

No – None , none oof the three vaccines approved for use in the UK contain aluminum

 

Q: Are the vaccines vegan?

Answer:

Yes – all of the vaccines are vegan as none of them contain any animal product.. They have no animal products.

 

Q: Could the vaccine affect my genes or DNA?

Answer:

The vaccine does not alter your DNA or genes. The vaccine only gets you to produce an immune response.

 

Covid-19 illness and the vaccine

 

Q: Can the vaccine give me Covid-19?

Answer:

No – vaccines are developed by taking parts of the virus itself. The parts of the virus in the vaccine cannot reproduce in your body and cannot give you Covid-19.

 

Q: Why do some people have a Covid-19 vaccine and then test positive?    

Answer:

The vaccines can NOT give you Covid-19.

Swab test: The levels of Covid-19 in the community are very high so this will happen, for example when somebody has been incubating Covid-19 before testing positive or getting symptoms (can be up to around 14 days) or that someone is infected shortly after taking the vaccine as the vaccine does not fully protect for 2-3 weeks.

Additionally, no vaccine is 100% effective so some people will test positive later, however, even in this instance the vaccine should reduce the severity of the infection.

This is not a result of the covid vaccines as the vaccine DOES NOT CONTAIN THE LIVE VIRUS and therefore, the vaccine CANNOT give you Covid-19.

Antibody test: The aim of the vaccine is to make the body produce antibodies to fight the virus. The antibody test will be positive in most people who have the vaccine.

 

Q: I want the vaccine, but have tested positive for Covid-19. Can I still have the vaccine?

Answer: Yes – you can still have the Covid-19 vaccine. It’s recommended you wait 4 weeks from the date you tested positive before having the vaccine if you were symptomless or two weeks after any symptoms have cleared..

 

Q: Should I have the vaccine, even if I know I have had the disease or if I have ‘long Covid-19’?

Answer:

Experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from Covid-19. Some people have had covid more than once. The vaccine gives you the maximum protection and will greatly reduce the chances of having a second infection.

 

Q: Do the vaccines stop the spread of Covid-19?              

Answer:

We don’t know yet, though it is likely that they will reduce the spread. We will soon have scientific evidence about this.

All groups offered vaccinations so far are at increased risk from covid-19.

 

Covid-19 vaccine fertility, and pregnancy and breastfeeding

 

 You can find out more information in the Covid 19 fertility and pregnancy PDF HERE.

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/updated-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-pregnancy-and-women-who-are-breastfeeding/

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/RCOG-and-RCM-respond-to-misinformation-around-Covid-19-vaccine-and-fertility/  

Letter template (england.nhs.uk)

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/updated-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-pregnancy-and-women-who-are-breastfeeding/

Q: Can the vaccine make a woman infertile?

Answer:

No - There is nothing in the vaccines that make one believe this may happen and previous vaccine testing around fertility also has showed no impact. 

This has been confirmed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: “We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of Covid-19 fertility are speculative and not supported by any data”.

You can find out more information in the Covid 19 fertility and pregnancy PDF HERE

“There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility.  Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated have gone on to have fertility problems.” (RCOG).

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/RCOG-and-RCM-respond-to-misinformation-around-Covid-19-vaccine-and-fertility/  

Specific unfounded claims have been made against the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines, which are summarised here:

Pfizer: https://fullfact.org/health/vaccine-covid-fertility/

Oxford/AstaZeneca: The vaccine contains polysorbate 80, which is also present in other vaccines, including that against HPV. Critics of the HPV vaccine have said that it causes infertility. There is no evidence to support this. https://ebm.bmj.com/content/25/6/191

Additionally, no other vaccines impact on fertility.

 

Q: If you are trying to become pregnant can you have the vaccines?

Answer:

Yes - Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

 

Q: Do the vaccines impact on male fertility?

Answer: 

No – There is nothing in any of the vaccines that is likely to impact male fertility and no evidence whatsoever in trials and tests conducted. No other vaccines impact on fertility.

 

Q: Can pregnant women have the vaccine?        

Answer:

Yes – As of April 17th, 2021 the JCVI announced: “There has been no specific safety concerns identified with any brand of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in relation to pregnancy. The

JCVI advises that it’s preferable women in the UK be offered Pfizer or Moderna vaccines where available.

Public Health England (PHE) advises that pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their clinician, including the latest evidence on safety and what vaccine they can take.

 

Q: Can women who are breast feeding now have the vaccine if they chose?

Answer:

 Yes – The JCVI and RCOG recently updated its guidance for this group based upon further research. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:

“The JCVI now advises that there is no known risk in giving these vaccines to breastfeeding women.  Breastfeeding women should therefore be offered vaccination if they are otherwise eligible, for example if they are a frontline health or social care worker, including a carer in a residential home. Women should be advised that there is lack of safety data for these specific vaccinations in breastfeeding.”

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/updated-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-pregnancy-and-women-who-are-breastfeeding/

 

Q: Can pregnant women have the vaccine?        

Answer:

Yes, taking consideration of the following advice. The JCVI updated its advice on pregnant woman being vaccinated who are front line workers and or have underlying conditions that put them at higher risk. The risks and benefits of vaccination should be discussed with a health professional. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) agree with this recommendation. They are recommending having your vaccine through your maternity unit or notify them when it’s received. We encourage pregnant woman to discuss further with their HCP.

There are rigorous safety procedures that reduce the risk of impact on fertility or unborn children that have been strengthened since the thalidomide disaster. All of the covid vaccines have passed these safety procedures. We know from the use of other vaccines in pregnancy (tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio and influenza) that they have no effect on the unborn baby. There is no reason to think covid vaccines would be different.

Additionally, Pfizer and Oxford vaccine teams are doing clinical trials on pregnant woman. It is normal that drug companies test new drugs on pregnant woman and there are likely to be results published in coming months.

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/updated-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-pregnancy-and-women-who-are-breastfeeding/

 

Q: If you are trying to become pregnant can you have the vaccines?

Answer:

Yes. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

 

Q: Do the vaccines impact on male fertility

Answer:

No. There is nothing in any of the vaccines that is likely to impact male fertility and no evidence whatsoever in trials and tests conducted.

No other vaccines impact on fertility.

 

Future implications for Covid-19 vaccines

 

Q: Will vaccine status (vaccine passport) be required for overseas travel?

Answer:

At this stage We don’t know. It is likely this This will generally be down to individual countries’ and travel companies’ policies (e.g. like Yellow Fever in some Latin America countries). Qantas (Australian airline) has stated covid-19 vaccinations will be mandatory before long haul travel.

 

Q: Will yearly Covid-19 vaccinations be necessary?         

Answer:

At this stage we do not know the answer to that question, but it is possible as, like the flu virus, the Covid-19 virus does mutate and a new flu vaccine is needed on a yearly basis.

 

Q: Are there increased side effects from yearly vaccinations?

Answer:

We don’t know whether covid will require an annual vaccination (see above). However, for the annual vaccinations that are in use such as flu there is no evidence that yearly vaccines have an increased risk of adverse side effects.

 

Q: Can you guarantee no rare adverse reactions or reactions that occur later on because of the Covid-19 vaccine?

Answer:

Each of the vaccines have been tested on over 10,000 people and now have been given to hundreds of millions of people worldwide as part of the vaccination campaign. The risk of any rare or late outcome is far outweighed by the risks of the disease.

There are no contents of any of the vaccines, or findings from the clinical trials, which suggest a significant risk. This has not been a problem with other vaccinations, which have the same checks and balances.

 

Wider safeguards

Q. Has the vaccine has been ‘rushed through’, how can I be sure no corners have been cut?Does the speed which the vaccine was produced have any effect upon its safety of its use?

Answer:

  • This video explains how COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly: Here                                     
  • You can also find a video from the MHRA here: Here 

The Covid-19 response has seen unprecedented resources, collaboration, and funding for a vaccine search as this was a global pandemic.

The NHS will only offer a COVIDCovid-19 vaccination only when once it has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The MHRA , is the the official UK regulator which is responsible for ensure the safety of , like all other medicines and devices.

In addition, The vaccines went through all the normal stages of development and approval. It happened more quickly because of several reasons including:

  • There had been vaccine work on other coronaviruses

  • There was no waiting for funding

  • Development stages were run in parallel

Q: Why do Pfizer and Oxford need protection from legal action If the vaccine is safe?

Answer:

Every company and majority of people need to have insurance and legal protection ranging from those who administer the vaccines to the manufacturers. Having legal protection is not a reflection on the efficacy of the vaccine.

 

Q: Are clinicians being paid by vaccine companies or have any vested interests to vaccinate people?  

Answer:

No – All NHS staff are being paid for their time to vaccinate people as part of their usual NHS contracts. In addition, The regulatory bodies that have approved the vaccine are fully independent. They are not paid by vaccine companies or other vested interests.

 

Q:  Am I likely to be given 1 dose of each vaccine and is this safe the same vaccine for each dose or will it be a combination two different vaccines?            

Answer:

At this stage the expectation is that people will be given two doses of the same vaccine. It is possible that if there are supply issues with one of the vaccines people may be given two doses of different vaccines. As the vaccines work in a similar way (to boost the production of the spike protein) it is likely that this would stimulate the same / a similar booster response.

 

IPC and PPE requirements

For more information, visit: https://northcentrallondonccg.nhs.uk/covid-19-vaccination-support-for-care-settings/

The vaccine does not change any of the requirements of staff to use PPE and follow IPC guidelines. This is hugely important to protect care staff and residents from outbreaks in the coming months. You have all worked incredibly hard to reduce the risk of outbreaks and to protect your staff and residents, so we want to highlight this point.

The main reasons for this are:

  • No vaccine is 100% effective; it takes a few weeks to build resistance and we do not know how long it will last.

  • Whilst the vaccine should stop you becoming seriously ill, we do not know whether people who have been vaccinated can catch and pass on the virus to others.

Therefore, staff still need to follow the social distancing and hygiene measures set out by the government and implemented within your care home. Having the vaccine should not change your behavior at work or in social situations as you could still be putting yourself and others at risk.

For more information, visit: https://northcentrallondonccg.nhs.uk/covid-19-vaccination-support-for-care-settings/