Information on COVID-19 vaccination: easy-read guide
Updated 2 December 2021
Applies to England
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What is COVID-19 or coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a new illness. It is sometimes called coronavirus.
Most people will get better from coronavirus at home but some people can get very poorly and have to go to hospital. Sadly, sometimes people can die from coronavirus.
Signs of coronavirus:
Some signs of coronavirus are:
- a new cough and you keep on coughing
- a high temperature
- your smell or taste going away or changing
If you have the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test.
Further information on symptoms is available on NHS.UK. If you cannot use the NHS website, phone 111 free of charge.
About the vaccine
The coronavirus vaccine is an injection.
You will need 2 injections of the vaccine, which will be up to 3 to 12 weeks apart.
The vaccine has been tested to make sure it is safe.
Who should have the coronavirus vaccines
Some people are more likely to get poorly from coronavirus than other people.
All adults and some children are being offered the vaccine.
Some people who are more likely to get poorly include:
- people living in a care home for the elderly
- people aged 65 years and over
- adults with Down’s syndrome
The vaccine will be also offered to adults with these health conditions:
- problems with your kidney or liver
- heart conditions
- some brain conditions
- breathing problems like severe asthma (needing steroid tablets)
This list doesn’t cover everybody. If you are more likely to get poorly, you should have been told by your doctor.
If you have a condition that makes you more likely to get very unwell from coronavirus and have not yet been vaccinated you should make an appointment to have them now.
Health and social care staff should also have all their vaccines.
If you are a paid or main carer for a vulnerable person you should also get the vaccine. This will help to protect you and the person you care for.
Knowing if you should get a vaccine
Your GP should be able to tell you if you should get the coronavirus vaccine.
Some people may receive a letter, or a phone call to invite them for their vaccination.
How to book your appointment
Your invitation letter will explain who to call for your appointment.
Use the telephone to make your appointment.
You will get told where to go for your vaccine and when.
Some people may be asked to go to a primary care hub to have their vaccine (primary care hubs are places where you can get your coronavirus vaccine that are run by your local GP services)
If you’re not sure, speak to your GP (family doctor).
What to do next
When you’ve had the first injection, you will get told where and when to go for your second injection.
You should have a record card with your next appointment written on it for an appointment in 3 to 12 weeks’ time.
Although the first dose will give you good protection, you need the second dose to get longer-lasting protection.
Keep your card safe and make sure you go to your second appointment to get your second injection.
How long the vaccine takes to work
It can take a few weeks for the vaccine to protect you.
Does the vaccine work for everyone?
The vaccine doesn’t completely stop everyone getting coronavirus, but if you do still catch coronavirus it shouldn’t make you as poorly if you’ve had the vaccine.
If you have serious allergies, you should check with your doctor if it is safe for you to get the vaccine. You might have a serious allergy if you carry an EpiPen.
Pregnant or think you may be
Some women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may have the vaccine. If you are trying for a baby, you can still have your vaccines. Talk to your GP or midwife about it.
Problems with your immune system
The vaccine is safe if you have problems with your immune system (this is when your body finds it hard to fight infections).
Side effects of the vaccine
Very common side effects include:
- your arm feeling heavy or sore where you had the injection
- feeling achy or like you’ve got the flu
- feeling tired
- having a headache
If you feel feverish (like you’re very hot or very cold) you should:
- take some paracetamol
You should feel better in less than a week.
You cannot catch coronavirus from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught coronavirus and not realise until after your vaccination appointment.
If you are feeling very poorly or you’re worried you might have coronavirus, call 111 or go on the 111 website. Make sure you tell 111 that you have just had your coronavirus vaccine
If NHS 111 tell you to see a doctor or a nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination too. If you can, show them your vaccination card.
If you think you have a serious side effect from the vaccine you can report them using the yellow card scheme. The Coronavirus Yellow Card system is a website where you can report any side effects from the vaccine. You may need support to access this website.
Do you need the COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve had the flu vaccine?
It’s important to have the flu vaccine and the coronavirus vaccine.
You can have both vaccines on the same day. You can also have them on different days if you need to.
What to do if you are not well when it is your next appointment
If you are not feeling well, wait to have your vaccine when you feel better.
You should try to have it as soon as possible. You can call the same number that you used to make your first appointment.
You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a coronavirus test or unsure if you are fit and well.
Can you give coronavirus to anyone after you have had the vaccine?
The vaccine can’t give you coronavirus.
Having the vaccine makes you less likely to get very ill from coronavirus.
The vaccine helps to protect you and those around you from catching and passing on the virus.
You still need to:
You do not have to social distance but you and the person who care for may still want to.
You do not have to wear a face mask. You can still wear one if it makes you feel safer, especially in crowded spaces.
Wash your hands carefully and often.
Open windows to let fresh air in.