Care Home vaccinations FAQ
This page provides frequently asked questions from care home providers on the vaccine and its roll out.
It will be updated on a regular basis with further questions. If you have any questions then please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer them and add to the page.
Questions on the vaccine
- What vaccines for COVID-19 is currently available? – There are two vaccines available – Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford Astra-Zeneca. These vaccines are shown to offer up to 95% efficacy and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have authorised the supply of the vaccines.
- Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe? Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said these vaccines are safe and 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.
- How long does the vaccine take to become effective? The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you developing the COVID-19 disease. You may not be fully protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine. Your second dose will be booked 4-12 weeks after your first dose. In their joint statement the chief medical officers said that data provided to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) showed that, although optimal efficacy was achieved through two doses, both vaccines “offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term.” This is why the aim is to give as many people as possible a first dose as quickly as they can rather than quickly give two doses.
- Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination? If you’re a frontline worker in a care home, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work. Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you and may help to protect your family and those you care for. The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives.
- Is it mandatory, and what happens if staff don’t want the jab? There are no plans for a COVID-19 vaccine to be compulsory. Just as they do with the winter flu vaccine, local NHS organisations are working hard to ensure staff are able to get vaccinated, and that any concerns that staff have are answered. We are confident that most staff – as they do every year for the flu vaccine – will protect themselves and their patients by getting the vaccine.
- Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly? Yes, the vaccines do not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products. If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs.
Care home workers
- Why are care home workers amongst the first groups to receive the vaccine? The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises UK health departments on immunisation. The JCVI has put care home staff and residents into a priority group because of their increased risk of exposure to the virus. The NHS is experienced in vaccinating hundreds of thousands of staff quickly and safely – we do it every year for the flu vaccine – and we have moved quickly to offer the vaccination to care home staff.
- Why is it being offered at Manchester Royal Infirmary first? To begin the roll out of the vaccine, certain hubs have been set up. Manchester Royal Infirmary was one of the first hubs and has meant that we’ve been able to offer the vaccine quickly through a booking process at the hospital outpatient department for care home staff. Over 80s visiting hospital and NHS staff are also being vaccinated there. These clinics have been extended to Wythenshawe Hospital and North Manchester General Hospital.
- Will staff be able to wait and get vaccinated in care homes? The appointments at Manchester Royal Infirmary have initially been the only definite slots available to staff. Plans for delivering the vaccine to residents and staff in homes begin wc 11 January. However, as visits will be short slots we would still encourage staff to book as soon as possible at the MRI or the other hospitals to get their vaccine.
- Is it going to be the responsibility of the person receiving the email invite for the home to arrange and book all the tests on-line? Because the booking link is publicly accessible we need to maintain some control over where the link is distributed at the moment. We would encourage managers to work with their staff to book appointments – however, that does not need to be through one person and can be delegated to other staff in the home to help coordinate.
- How far in advance should we try to book an appointment for our staff, given that some of the questions asked are time-specific? We would recommend booking any available slots on the booking system. Slots are available based on vaccine availability and if there are any changes of circumstance then a booking can be cancelled.
- Who cannot have the vaccine? There are very few contraindications to the vaccine and there is a full health screening carried out when booking that is checked by a doctor. The national guidance states:
– The COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended for women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant in the next three months, or breastfeeding.
– Any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food should not receive the vaccine.
– A second dose of the vaccine should not be given to those who have experienced anaphylaxis to the first dose of vaccine.
– People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered. Minor illnesses without fever or systemic upset are not valid reasons to postpone immunisation.
- I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine? People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
- Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated? Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.
- Are there any known or anticipated side effects? Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine. Very common side effects are similar to the flu vaccination and can include having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection, feeling tired, headache, general aches, or mild flu like symptoms.
You may take a painkiller, such as paracetamol, to reduce any side effects. As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.
These 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.
Myth busting and other common misconceptions
Manchester’s Director of Public Health, David Regan, has made a short video encouraging people to get the vaccine when offered and addressing some of the other myths around the vaccine which you can view here.