The NHS has advised that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.
It gives you the best protection against COVID-19.
Can I get the vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are available for:
- everyone aged 16 or over
- some children aged 12 to 15 who have a higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 or who live with someone at high risk of catching it
Where are vaccinations taking place?
In Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at local vaccination centres run by GPs, and at larger vaccination centres. Most centres are open every day.
How do I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
If you are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, you can book an appointment online.
You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or a pharmacy that provides COVID-19 vaccinations. You do not need to wait to be contacted.
How is the COVID-19 vaccination given?
The COVID-19 vaccination is given as an injection into your upper arm.
It’s given as two doses. You will receive your second dose 3-12 weeks after having the first dose. It’s important that you receive both doses of the vaccine. Without the second dose, you do not have the best protection from COVID-19.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The NHS advises that:
"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 or clotting problems, have been very rare."
For more information on vaccine safety, please visit the NHS COVID-19 vaccination website.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Most side effects are mild and should not last longer than a week. These include:
- A sore arm where the needle went in
- Feeling tired
- A headache
- Feeling achy
- Feeling or being sick
If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
You can report side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine to the Government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). You can do this on the MHRA Yellow Card website.
Reports of extremely rare blood clots
There have been reports of an extremely rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have received the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine.
For people aged 40 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any risk of clotting problems. For people under 40 without other health conditions, it's currently advised that it's preferable to have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:
- a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
- a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
- a headache that's unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
- a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
- shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain
Can I access guidance in another language?
You can find up-to-date, accurate COVID-19 guidance in other languages on the Doctors of the World webpage.
This guidance is in Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Czech, Dari, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Indonesian, Italian, Kiswahili, Korean, Krio, Kurdish Sorani, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Nepali, Oromo, Pahari, Pashto, Pidgin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Romany, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Sindhi, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Tetum, Tigrinya, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Twi, Urdu, Vietnamese, Wolof, Yiddish, Yoruba.
How can I identify COVID-19 vaccine scams?
Several COVID-19 vaccine scams have been reported in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.
The COVID-19 vaccine is only available on the NHS for free. Anyone offering a paid-for vaccine is committing a crime.
The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine. The NHS will never ask for payment or for your bank details.
At the moment, the NHS is not making house calls to deliver or discuss the vaccine. Anyone offering this now is committing a crime.
The Government has produced a leaflet about COVID-19 vaccine scams, how they work, and how to spot them.
I need to travel abroad. How can I demonstrate my COVID-19 vaccine status?
Some countries require international travellers to have completed a full course (two doses) of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are travelling abroad, you may need to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccine status.
COVID-19 vaccination status is available to people who live in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea and are registered with a GP. You can get your vaccination status in digital or paper format.
Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres cannot be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
You can access your COVID-19 vaccine status through the free NHS App, through the NHS Website, or by calling 119. Do not contact your GP surgery about your COVID-19 vaccination status. GPs cannot provide letters showing your COVID-19 vaccination status.
For more information on how to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccine status, visit the GOV.UK website.
What is it like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Public Health England have developed a series of short videos on COVID-19 vaccination to support and encourage people with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) to get their COVID-19 vaccines.
The NHS and the Government provides a range of resources, including leaflets and posters for patients, here, including:
NHS England and NHS Improvement have produced a short film describing what a vaccine is, how vaccines are made, why you should get a vaccine, whether a vaccine make you ill and how to decide whether to have a vaccine. This can be watched here.
The BBC has also created this video explaining how a vaccine is approved and why this has taken less time than usual for the COVID vaccinations.
Healthwatch England also has information about the vaccination roll-out, including a set of frequently asked questions about the vaccine. You can read this here.