The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It’s given as 2 doses. You will have the 2nd dose 3 to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose. You will have 2 doses of the same vaccine.
How safe is the COVID-19 Vaccine?
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
So far, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:
- GOV.UK: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- GOV.UK: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- GOV.UK: Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus from 3 or 4 weeks after you’ve had it.
But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance
- if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people
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.
Contact your GP surgery if you have a headache for more than 4 days after your vaccination or get bruising somewhere other than where you had your vaccination.