COVID-19 vaccine: what you need to know

What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Islington, including why it's important to have the vaccine.

This article is correct as of 17 March 2021. For the latest information on COVID-19 visit the North Central London NHS website.

The Covid vaccination programme is well underway in Islington. You will need two injections. These will be 12 weeks apart. It's important that you have both, as this will make you more resistant to the effects of coronavirus.

The #CovidVaccine​ is the best way to protect yourself and the people you love.

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 vaccine

Here are some FAQs to help you get the information you need to know about the biggest vaccination programme in history, with a particular focus on how the programme is being rolled out in Islington.

Who is getting the vaccine first?

The government plans to offer a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every adult by September this year. People most at risk of serious harm from coronavirus are getting the vaccine first. These groups include older people, people with existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable, and frontline health and social care workers. You can find the full list in order of priority here

How will I be contacted when it's time for my vaccination?

  1. All Islington patients will be contacted by their GP to attend a local GP site as they become eligible. All the over 80s have been called by phone. Moving forward, a text message-based booking system will be used for those that have mobiles. Calls will still be made to patients with no mobiles and to those who don't respond to the text.
  2.  Patients have also started to be invited to attend large vaccination centres by the National COVID Vaccination Booking Service. The National Booking Service looks at GP records of eligible people who have not yet had their first dose of the vaccine and sends them a letter inviting them to book via a website or by calling 119.

Where are the vaccination sites?

There are two local GP sites offering covid vaccinations:

  1. Bingfield Primary Care Centre, 8 Bingfield Street, N1 0AL
  2. Hanley Primary Care Centre, 51 Hanley Road, N4 3DU

Sites of large vaccination centres offered via the National Booking Service:

  1. The Excel Centre in East London already hosts a large vaccination centre.
  2. The Arc Centre, St Paul Street, N1
  3. The Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, N1 0QH

What do I do if I am offered an appointment at a large vaccination centre when I already have an offer to attend my local GP site?

The National Booking Service cannot tell if the patients on its lists have already booked an appointment at their local GP site.  This means you may receive an invitation from the National Booking Service when you’ve already had your vaccination at a local health centre or you have already booked an appointment with your local GP site.

If you been invited to attend your local GP site but have also received an invitation from the National Booking Service to attend one of the large vaccination centres you may decide to attend wherever is most convenient for you. If at all possible you should try not to cancel appointments that are already booked.

Should I attend my vaccination appointment if I have Covid symptoms, or if someone in my household has Covid symptoms?

No. If you, or anyone in your household has symptoms, you should not go for your vaccination. If you have to self-isolate, you should also not go for your vaccination. When your isolation period is over you should re-arrange your appointment by contacting your GP.

What should I expect on the day?

You should arrive at the vaccination centre/ GP practice a few minutes before your appointment time and not any earlier. This is to ensure that the site can maintain social distancing in the waiting areas. You will also be required to wear a face-covering (if you can) and to sanitise your hands on arrival. There will be spare face masks if you forget your own and plenty of sanitiser for you to use whenever you need to. You may be asked to wait for 15 minutes after the vaccination.

Please do not be late. This is essential to maintain safe social distancing at the centres.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

As well as a face covering (if you can wear one), you may wish to bring some form of ID to the centre. Apart from that, you don’t need to bring anything with you. The vaccine is free, you will not be charged for your vaccinations.

What if I can’t get there on my own?

If you are housebound a home visit will be arranged for your appointments via your GP.

If you are not housebound but need support attending the appointment due to health and/or disability issues, a taxi transfer service is available from Age UK Islington. A carer, family member, or friend who could support your access to the vaccination site may accompany you in the taxi. You must be referred to this scheme by your GP practice. (Patients who have access to the taxi card scheme or other forms of transport to the vaccination site are not eligible for this service).

More information about vaccines

Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from diseases. It's much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once a vaccine has trained your immune system to know how to fight a disease, it can often protect you for many years. 

Is the NHS confident the COVID-19 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. Three vaccines have been approved for use so far. One is produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and one by Oxford/AstraZeneca. The third vaccine is produced by Moderna but isn't available for use in the UK yet. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has said that the vaccines are very safe and offer high levels of protection.

In the UK any adverse effect to a vaccination is recorded by health professionals and these are collated and regularly reviewed to see if there are any themes. As of 15 March, over 24 million people in the UK have had a COVID jab, with minimal adverse effects.

Do the coronavirus vaccines contain pork gelatine or other animal products?

  • No they don’t. The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products.
  • They do not contain common allergens such as latex, milk, lactose, gluten, egg, maize/corn, or peanuts.
  • The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does contain a tiny amount of ethanol (the compound found in alcoholic drinks) but much less than is found naturally in a banana or a slice of bread for example
  • The Muslim Council of Britain have approved both vaccinations for individuals from Muslim communities. The British Board of Scholars and Imams provide further guidance here.

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 won’t have full protection until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine. 

Very common side effects include: tenderness in the arm, feeling tired, headache, and mild flu like symptoms. As with all vaccines, appropriate care will be available in the very rare case of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) following the injection.

Who cannot have the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccination is not currently recommended for women who are pregnant or children. 

People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered.

Is the vaccine linked to infertility?

No. There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Learn more.

I have already had Covid. Is it still worth having the vaccine?

Yes, you should still get vaccinated. We do not know how much immunity you get from having already had the virus. 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. 

Now that we are rolling out vaccines across the UK, can we end restrictions and lockdowns? 

The full impact on infection rates will not become clear until a large number of people have been vaccinated with two doses, but as larger numbers do get vaccinated, we will hopefully move further along the path back to a more normal way of life.   

Regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated, you must continue to follow the Government advice around COVID-19 restrictions. Find out what you can and can’t do.

Are the Government introducing vaccine passports?

There are no plans to introduce immunity passports following the COVID-19 vaccination programme. 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory?

There are no plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine compulsory.

Protect yourself from fraud

In England, the COVID-19 vaccines will only be available via the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine.

Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

  • 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.

Find out more and report fraud