Official sources of information

  • GOV.UK

    For official national guidance, see the government website.

  • NHS

    For national information on the vaccination programme, see the NHS website.

  • South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board

    For updates specific to Sheffield, see the South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board website.

Vaccine resources

A collection of useful resources regarding COVID-19 vaccines, shared with SCCT by community organisations.

Made with Padlet

Vaccine FAQs

Vaccines and how they work

Why do we need to vaccinate everyone?

Vaccination is the best and safest way of achieving widespread immunity to a serious disease such as COVID-19. The more people who are vaccinated the less chance of the disease being able to spread. It is important to have a vaccination not only to protect yourself from COVID -19 but also to help stop the spread and protect your family, friends and community.


Vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting serious diseases. It is much safer for your immune system to learn how to fight illnesses through vaccination than by catching the disease.

How do vaccines work?

The vaccine works by making a key protein from the virus that is important for creating protection and mimics infection. When injected into the body our immune system produces antibodies against this protein which neutralises the virus. These antibodies memorise the protein and mobilise again if the virus tries to infect the person. 


The memory antibody cells fade over time (as they would with a natural infection), which is why a booster ‘reminder’ injection is sometimes important to enhance and stimulate our immune response. 


Our cells get rid of the vaccine protein soon after it has done its job in making the antibodies of the virus.


Find information on how the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine works here.


Find information on how the Pfizer BioNTec vaccine works here.

How can we be sure the vaccines are safe?

As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated. Vaccines go through several stages of laboratory tests and clinical trials before they are approved for use. All the COVID-19 vaccinations currently licensed in the UK and being used by the NHS have been through all these rigorous trial and safety procedures. The independent regulator for medicines in the UK (the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency – MHRA), has looked in detail at each vaccine separately to agree that it is safe and effective. We have full confidence in their independent expert judgement and processes.   


These vaccines have now been given to millions of people in the UK and as with all medicines, there is continued monitoring once it has been authorised through the yellow card system.

Are the vaccines effective?

The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) have looked at the evidence and found these vaccines to be highly effective, but to get full protection people must come back for the second dose.


The vaccine has some effect after the first dose and a greater effect one or two weeks after the second dose. As this is not 100% so it is important to continue to follow the government restrictions even if you have been vaccinated.


Up to date information on the effectiveness of the vaccines can be found here.

Vaccines available in the UK

What vaccines are currently being given in the UK?

Updated information about all the vaccines licensed and available in the UK can be found here.

What do the vaccines licensed in the UK contain?

The contents of each vaccine have been published and can be found here…


Pfizer BioNTec


Oxford AstraZeneca

Are there any side effects?

The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mostly mild and short-lived. They are the same kind of side effects experienced and expected from all vaccination. After you have received your vaccination you will be given a leaflet about possible side effects and how you can manage them.


More information is available here.

What are the long-term side effects?

Long term side effects from vaccination are now very rare and none have been reported for any of the UK licensed COVID- 19 vaccinations.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding women have the vaccine?

Up to date advice on vaccinating pregnant and breast-feeding women can be found here.

What about people who suffer from allergic reactions? How do I know if I have severe allergies?

There have been a few cases where people have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This is called an ‘anaphylactic’ reaction and happens as an immediate response after a jab. 


These reactions are very rare and most people will know if they are at risk. Everyone is asked specific questions about this before vaccination. Doctors and nurses at the vaccination centres know how to treat these reactions.


More information on vaccines and allergies can be found here.

What about people who have immune deficiency disorders or take medication to suppress immunity?

It is important that decisions about the vaccine are weighed against the risk of getting COVID-19 or risking transmitting it to vulnerable people.


These decisions should be discussed with your doctor.


Up to date guidance about this can be found here.

Is it safe for people with long COVID to have the vaccine?

People who have had COVID-19 should still have the vaccine as it provides a more targeted and longer-lasting response to the disease.

Which vaccines protect best against the latest variants of the virus?

All the vaccines licensed in the UK are very effective against the strains of the virus currently predominant in the UK. It is therefore very important that as many people as possible get the vaccines available quickly to reduce the spread of the virus.  This will not only prevent people from getting ill and dying from COVID-19 but also stop variants of the virus emerging that could defeat the vaccine.


Trials are ongoing about the impact of the vaccine programme. Further evidence will emerge to inform the vaccination programme and the development of modifications to the vaccines to meet the future challenge of new variants.

Can I still catch COVID-19 after my jab?

No medicine is 100% effective but the evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccines being used in the UK now emerging looks extremely promising. It shows that the chances of getting COVID-19 are low after vaccination and there is good protection against severe disease.


The vaccine takes a few weeks to work and so it is possible that someone could have caught or be incubating COVID-19 before the vaccine has produced antibodies.

Will I still need to take precautions after I have had the vaccine?

It is important to continue to follow NHS advice after you have received the vaccine.

This is because, as with all medicines, the vaccine is not 100% effective.

Practicalities and the rollout in Sheffield

Can I get a Covid-19 booster jab?

You can find out if you’re eligible for a Covid-19 booster vaccination on the NHS website.

How will I hear about getting a booster jab?

You may be contacted by a local NHS service, such as your GP surgery, to get a vaccine for you or your child. This is usually done by text or a phone call, but you may sometimes get a letter or a notification in the NHS App.

I don’t have a computer or smartphone. Will I still receive an invitation?

If you cannot book appointments online or on the NHS App, you can call 119 free of charge. You can speak to a translator if you need to.

If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, or are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can use textphone 18001 119 or the NHS 119 BSL interpreter service.

My first language isn’t English, how can I find out about the vaccination and know what to do?

Find official sources of information, about the vaccination, in other languages here.

I am not registered with a GP, will I still get an invitation?

It is important to register with a GP surgery. You do not need proof of address or immigration status to register.


Further information about how to register with a GP can be found here.

Will it be like the flu jab? Every year?

This is very likely. The scientists are still studying how long our immunity lasts to COVID-19 and how much it is impacted upon by the variants of concern that are emerging. The scientists are confident that they can produce the changes necessary to the vaccine to match variants of concern. They already do this every year for the flu jab.