How do the Covid-19 vaccines work?
- Vaccines work by tricking your body into thinking it has to fight the virus. It trains you for this fight by making antibodies and stimulating T-cells; then you are ready if you do come across the real thing.
- However, like any training, getting up to ‘match fitness’ takes time. Your body’s response, the immune response, is only fully trained up around 2 or 3 weeks after you have each of your 2 jabs. If you are older it’s better to allow at least 3 weeks. You can still get COVID in this time.
- Even better and longer lasting protection then comes from the second dose so it is really important that everyone gets the second jab.
Why are we beginning to vaccinate the next two priority groups when the first two have not all received their vaccines?
- Priority remains to vaccinate top 2 cohorts first, while over 4 million people have received their first vaccine dose in the UK.
- Vaccinating the first 2 groups will remain the priority, but vaccination sites which have enough supply and capacity for vaccinating further people are allowed to offer vaccinations to the next 2 cohorts – those aged 70 and over and clinically extremely vulnerable people.
- This will allow areas that have already vaccinated the majority of care home residents, frontline health and care staff and people aged 80 and over to keep up the momentum and start vaccinating further at-risk people, helping the NHS to reach the Prime Minister’s commitment of offering vaccinations to the first 4 priority groups by the middle of February.
Me or someone I know is in one of the top priority groups and hasn’t been offered a vaccine yet, but people I know aren’t in the priority group and have been vaccinated. Why is this?
- At the end of every day at each vaccination centre, there will be some vaccine doses “left over”. These are from people who booked their vaccination but did not appear. As these doses cannot be put back into storage the centre will offer them to anyone, including volunteers at the vaccine centre. This may explain why people not in the top four priority tiers have had a dose of the vaccine.
- As well as the over-70’s and the extremely clinically vulnerable; domiciliary care workers, care home employees, and front-line medical staff are included in the top tiers, because of their proximity to high-risk people.
- The NHS is calling people in the top 4 groups, and we are on track to have offered the vaccine to everyone in those groups (listed above) by the 15th of February. If this date passes and you have not been called, please call your local GP.
- People who are extremely clinically vulnerable are in tier 4, people with underlying health conditions are in tier 6. You can find the distinction between these groups on the NHS website here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/whos-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/. Your doctor may also have advised you are extremely clinically vulnerable.
I work in a job where I come into contact with a lot of people (Retail worker, refuse collector, construction worker, prison officer, etc). Why are we not being made a priority for the vaccine?
- The priority list for the vaccine was created by the independent Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations, and was based on saving lives. Therefore, those at the highest risk of dying or falling seriously ill from the virus were put into the priority tiers, as well as those who spend all their time around people who fall into those categories (care workers, medical staff). If the top 4 groups are fully vaccinated, it would cut deaths by 88% from what it would be if the groups were not vaccinated.