Page last updated: 22 April, 2022, 10:38am
COVID-19 vaccine – benefits and busting myths
The COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against COVID-19 and reduce your chances of experiencing serious illness, hospitalisation or death.
Millions of people across the UK are vaccinated against COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the most important action that we can all take to protect ourselves and others, helping to end the pandemic and stopping new variants from emerging.
Evidence shows how effective vaccines are at combating dangerous diseases. Since we started using vaccines in the UK, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus, that used to kill or disable millions of people, are either gone or seen very rarely. Other diseases like measles and diphtheria are much less common now, with 99.9% fewer cases since their vaccines were introduced.
It is thanks to the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme that restriction brought in by Government to slow the spread of the virus have now been lifted. The vaccines save lives and help protect the NHS from being overwhelmed. Let’s keep it up and get our vaccinations. Find out more about the different doses and what you are entitled to on our vaccine eligibility page.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about why you should get the COVID-19 vaccine
Why should I still get the vaccine now that restrictions have been lifted?
Vaccines enabled the gradual and safe removal of restrictions on everyday life over the past year. Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, we are able to get back to doing the things we love. However, COVID-19 is still out there and there are still people in hospital unwell with the virus. Many of those that are in hospital are those who have not been vaccinated or have not received a booster.
I have recently recovered from COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes, you still need to get a dose of the vaccine for extra protection, even if you have recently recovered from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine provides stronger protection than natural immunity against serious complications, including from any future waves due to new variants. If you are aged over 18, you need to wait 4 weeks after a positive COVID-19 test to get vaccinated. If you are aged 5 to 17 and not classified as at greater risk, then you need to wait 12 weeks (those at greater risk need to wait 4 weeks).
If I am pregnant or planning to become pregnant, can I get the vaccine?
Yes you should get vaccinated. It’s strongly recommended that you get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect you and your baby. You’re at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 if you’re pregnant. For more information about the vaccine and pregnancy, visit our ‘vaccine advice on pregnancy and fertility’ page .
Why children should get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Getting the vaccine will help to protect children and young people against COVID-19. Whilst most children usually have mild illness, they can pass on their infection to others in their family and those they come into contact with.
What is long COVID?
For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long COVID”. The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get COVID-19. People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems.
Common long COVID-19 symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and difficulty sleeping. A full list of symptoms is available on the NHS website.
How the COVID-19 vaccine is helping life go back to normal
Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel?
The rules for travelling will vary depending on the country you are thinking of visiting. Many places around the world require either evidence of vaccination or a negative PCR test. To find out if your destination requires these, visit the Gov.uk website, which has details of travel requirements around the world.
Do I need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend festivals, sporting events and other domestic events?
Some venues of large public events across the UK may choose to check the COVID-19 status of visitors or their workforce. You may be asked to demonstrate your COVID-19 status as a condition of entry. Alternatively, you may have to provide evidence of a negative PCR test if you are not vaccinated. You will need to check with the event organiser to find out what requirements are in place.
How do I prove that I have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recently tested negative?
The NHS COVID Pass is a way to show your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination status or test results if you need to. You can use a tablet or smartphone to show your NHS COVID Pass. You can also download it as a PDF, print it, save it to your mobile device, or have it sent as a link in an email. For more information on the NHS COVID Pass visit the NHS website or the Gov.uk website.
How we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe
Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?
You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine. None of the authorised COVID-19 vaccines in the United Kingdom contain the live virus that causes COVID-19; the vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. The vaccine can cause side-effects, but these are usually mild and are not caused by an infection.
Will I get side-effects from the vaccine?
You may experience some mild side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. Side-effects are very mild, do not last for very long and not everybody will get them. Some of the more common side-effects can include a sore arm, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy, and feeling or being sick. If you do get these, a pain killer such as paracetamol is recommended. For more information on side-effects, visit the NHS website .
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for children?
The vaccine has been tested across the world and found to be safe and effective, including for children.
Questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine
Do I need to be registered at a GP practice to receive the vaccine?
You do not need to be registered with a GP to receive a COVID-19 or have an NHS number to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. You can go to one of the walk-in clinics to receive your vaccine.
Can I still come forward for a first or second dose if I’ve not yet done so?
If I get the COVID-19 vaccine, does this mean I’m protected against flu as well?
No – they are two separate vaccinations. The COVID vaccine is available to everyone aged 5 and over. The flu vaccine is offered for free to those that are most vulnerable to the flu virus. For more information and to check if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine, visit the NHS website.
Questions about the different doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
How long will the vaccine provide protection from COVID-19?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of suffering from COVID-19, preventing severe illness, hospitalisation, and death. The protection the vaccines provide does decrease over time, especially for certain groups. Therefore; a booster is offered to everyone aged 16 and above 3 months after their last dose and a spring booster is available to those aged 75 and over and those aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system.
Will I be expected to get more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the future?
The NHS is delivering a Spring Booster in England to those who are most vulnerable from COVID-19, including people aged 75 and over. The NHS is also preparing to deliver an autumn dose of the vaccine, but whether this happens will depend on future recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
Further information and FAQs
You can find further information and frequently asked questions on the COVID-19 vaccine for specific groups by clicking on the links below: