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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccination Programme: Frequently Asked Questions

Since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak began, scientists across the world have worked to develop safe and effective vaccines.

Two of these vaccines have now been approved for use in the UK and vaccinations have begun.

The vaccination programme will play a significant role in tackling the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, offering additional protection that until now has not been available.


Why do I need a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine?

The vaccine is your best protection against Coronavirus (COVID-19) and NHS Scotland strongly recommends you get the vaccine when offered it. The vaccine protects not only you, but can help to protect your friends, families, colleagues and anyone else you come into contact with.

Being vaccinated can reduce your risk of developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) and make your symptoms milder if you do get it.


Who will be offered the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine?

The aim is for every adult in Scotland to be offered the vaccination.

Those most at risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be prioritised to ensure they are protected. This includes:

  • Staff and residents in care homes
  • People who will be aged 80 and over by 31 March, 2021
  • Frontline health and social care staff

Once those most at risk have been vaccinated, the next phase will concentrate on those aged over 65 and those under 65 who are at risk due to existing health conditions, before moving on to the wider population of those aged 18 and over throughout the spring and summer.


I am a frontline health and social care worker. When will I be vaccinated?

Health and social care staff will be contacted directly by their employer as and when details of staff vaccination campaigns have been finalised.


When and where will I be vaccinated?

NHS Scotland began vaccinating people in early December and those eligible in the first wave will be contacted in the coming weeks to be told where to get their vaccine and how to make an appointment.

Vaccinations are taking place differently across Scotland to reflect the needs of local communities and work is under way to identify accessible locations to vaccinate those who are eligible. Locations will vary and your appointment may not be at a GP practice.

Your NHS health board will confirm local arrangements.


Who will deliver the vaccinations?

Registered nurses and medics will work alongside wider practitioners such as pharmacists, dentists and optometrists who will be able to administer the vaccine.


Once I’ve had the vaccine, will I still need to follow FACTS?

Yes, after you get the vaccine you will still need to follow the latest government advice.

The effectiveness and immune response of the vaccine is being monitored as the vaccine is rolled out. In the meantime - and possibly for some time to come - it’s still crucial that you:

  • F – Wear a face covering
  • A – Avoid crowds
  • C – Clean your hands regularly
  • T – Two-metre distance
  • S – Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms


I’ve already had Coronavirus (COVID-19). Do I still need to be vaccinated?

Even if you’ve already had Coronavirus (COVID-19), you could still get it again. The vaccine will reduce your risk of another infection and the seriousness of your symptoms if you do get it again.

If you've recently tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) – even if you have no symptoms – you should wait until 4 weeks after the date you were tested before getting the vaccine.


Are there any groups who should not be vaccinated?

You shouldn't get the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine if you've had a severe reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine or a previous dose of the vaccine. You can find out more about the vaccine ingredients here.

This will affect very few people, but you will be able to ask any questions at your appointment.

If you're pregnant, planning a pregnancy or are breastfeeding then please refer to the next question.

If you've recently tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) – even if you have no symptoms – you should wait until 4 weeks after the date you were tested before getting the vaccine.


I am pregnant or breastfeeding. Can I have the vaccine?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is effective and has a good safety profile.

Non-clinical studies of both available COVID-19 vaccines have raised no concerns about safety during of use pregnancy, but the vaccine has still to be fully assessed for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

If you're pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding then you should not have the vaccine at this stage. This advice is precautionary until additional evidence is available.

However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recognised that the potential benefits of vaccination are particularly important for some pregnant women. This includes those who are at very high risk of catching the infection or those with clinical conditions that put them at high risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19.

In these circumstances, you should discuss vaccination with your doctor or nurse, and you may feel that it is better to go ahead and receive the protection from the vaccine.

You can find more detailed information on the NHS Inform website here.


I am taking other medication. Is it safe to be vaccinated?

You’ll be asked some questions at your vaccination appointment to make sure that there are no reasons for you not to have the vaccine.

You'll also have an opportunity to ask any questions or discuss concerns you may have.


Is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine safe?

All medicines, including vaccines, are tested for safety and effectiveness before they’re allowed to be used. Their safety continues to be checked while in use.

NHS Scotland will only use a vaccine if it meets the required standards of safety and effectiveness.

The Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved two Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines for use in the UK.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine does not cause a coronavirus infection. It helps to build up your immunity to the virus, so your body will fight it off more easily if it affects you.


Does the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine have any side effects?

Some people may experience side effects after getting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. These are usually mild and may include:

  • Tenderness, swelling and/or redness at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever/high temperature (37.8°C or greater)

A less common side effect is swelling of the glands which could start a few days after the vaccine and may last for up to 2 weeks.

It’s quite common to develop a fever after a vaccination. This normally happens within 48 hours of receiving the vaccine and goes away within 48 hours.

It is important to get 2 doses of the vaccine, even if you have mild side effects after the first dose.

You can report any suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card website here, or by phoning 0800 731 6789 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

More information on side effects is available on the NHS Inform website here.


What should I expect at my vaccination appointment?

The vaccine will be given as an injection in the upper arm and will only take a few minutes.

During vaccination, strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine will be given in 2 doses. It's important to get both doses to protect yourself against, and you'll be advised when to return for your second dose.


How should I prepare for my vaccination appointment?

On the day of your vaccine, wear practical clothing so it’s easy to access your upper arm.

If you have a fear of needles or feel anxious, try to stay calm and let the person giving you your vaccine know. They will be understanding and can support you.

You should ideally wait 7 days between the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine and any other vaccination.


What if I feel unwell on the day of my appointment?

If you're unwell on the day of your appointment, you should still go for your vaccination if it's a minor illness without fever.

If you feel very unwell, your vaccine may be postponed until you have fully recovered.

Do not attend your vaccine appointment if you feel unwell with symptoms of coronavirus. You should self-isolate and book a coronavirus test instead.


Where can I find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination?

Public Health Scotland has produced a series of information leaflets, which you can access at the links below:

COVID-19 vaccine - Adult leaflet

COVID-19 vaccine - Healthcare worker leaflet

COVID-19 vaccine - Social care worker leaflet

Information for UK recipients on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (PDF, 140KB)

Information for UK recipients on COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca

COVID-19 vaccine - What to expect leaflet

The above leaflets are available in British Sign Language (BSL) and audio formats.

You can also request hard copies or alternative formats of these leaflets (such as large print, braille or other languages) by emailing phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

For any additional information, visit the NHS Inform website or call the Coronavirus Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (available 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).