Boots UK reveals the most commonly asked questions that customers have been asking its pharmacists since the opening of its COVID-19 vaccination sites earlier this month. From how best to prepare for the vaccine to potential side-effects, Boots Chief Pharmacist Marc Donovan is here to help.
Is the vaccine safe and are there any long-term effects of the vaccine?
“Some people may experience side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. These are usually mild and common ones include tenderness, swelling and/or redness in your arm, headaches and tiredness. Despite the speed at which the vaccine has been developed and made available to the public, it has still been through thorough checks by the regulators to make sure it is safe, with no long-term complications reported from trials. It is critical in the fight against COVID-19 and I encourage everyone to take up the opportunity of the vaccination.”
Why do I need to get both doses of COVID-19 vaccinations?
“You won’t receive the maximum protection against COVID-19 unless you receive both doses, so it is really important to have your second vaccination. The first dose helps the body begin to build immunity against the virus (SARS-CoV-2) and it can take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first vaccine. The second dose further boosts the immune response to ensure longer term protection. No vaccine is 100% effective, but it will help reduce hospital admissions and ease the pressure on the NHS.”
Is the COVID-19 vaccination just as effective for those from a BAME background?
“We know that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, with this group at greater risk of becoming very sick from the virus. It is important that those from a BAME background take up the opportunity to receive the vaccine when it’s offered. There is no evidence that it is any less effective at protecting them from COVID-19 compared to people from other backgrounds.”
Do I need to keep wearing a mask and social distancing after I’ve received my COVID-19 vaccination?
“Yes, you need to continue to follow the latest Government guidance on social distancing and wearing a mask where required. Not enough information is currently available to say when we can stop taking these precautions, as scientists need to understand more about the protection that the COVID-19 vaccines provide and how it affects transmission before making a decision. Even if you have had your second vaccination, no vaccine is 100% effective and it is important to continue to protect those around you too.”
If I’ve had COVID-19, do I still need the vaccination, as I may have antibodies still?
“Due to the health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection is possible, even if you have previously tested positive, you should still have the vaccine but you’ll need to leave a gap between your positive test and getting the vaccine. Experts do not know how long someone is protected for after recovering from COVID-19, as immunity varies from person to person. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, and the vaccination should provide longer immunity, but more studies are needed to better understand this, and they are currently underway.”
Will the COVID-19 vaccine give me coronavirus?
“No, the vaccine will not give you COVID-19. Any similar symptoms you experience following the jab are likely to be the result of mild side effects from the vaccine.”
Can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?
“At the moment there is no indication that the COVID-19 vaccine could cause harm to pregnancy, but as the vaccine is still in the early stages of the rollout there is insufficient data to recommend routine COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and fall within the ‘clinically vulnerable’ category as outlined by the NHS, then you should speak to your GP about the risks and benefits of having the vaccine. Your GP will support you with making a decision that is right for you and your baby.”
How can I prepare for my vaccine appointment?
“On the day of your vaccine, wear practical clothing so that it’s easy to access your upper arm and remember to wear a face covering while travelling to, from and during your appointment. If you feel nervous about the jab, try to stay calm – it will take a few minutes and the person carrying out the vaccination will be able to support you and answer any questions.”
Boots currently offers NHS COVID-19 vaccinations at its pharmacies in Halifax, Gloucester, Huddersfield, Liverpool, Bristol, Taunton, Southport, Southampton, Chester and Chatham – with further Boots vaccination sites opening in the future. The sites currently administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and patients must be invited directly by the NHS to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment at one of the participating Boots pharmacies.