Learn more about the vaccine, get answers to your questions and organise your jab when you’re ready.
This website is created by young people for young people in Essex, with fact-checking from the NHS and Essex Public Health.
Do flies spread Covid-19? Can you catch the virus from your shoes? Will adding pepper to your soup protect you? When it comes to Covid-19, there are plenty of interesting theories out there.
We spoke to a vaccine expert to find out how to recognise vaccine misinformation. How to spot vaccine misinformation
When it comes to Covid-19, there are plenty of interesting theories out there.
When it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine, it can be hard to know what is true and what is false news. You might see something from your favourite celebrity on Instagram or from your friends on WhatsApp. Wherever it comes from, it’s important to know you can’t always trust it.
Mohammad Hassan-Ally is a clinical lead for Covid-19 vaccinations.
“People who fear the vaccine often get their information from WhatsApp chats, Instagram or Facebook groups. They see videos or stories and believe these over verified health sources or traditional news outlets."
“The myth of the vaccine containing microchips is one example – not many people believe that anymore. Infertility still comes up as a concern, but there is absolutely no data to suggest any ill effects.”
With so much information about Covid-19 flying around, how do you work out what to believe? If you’re not sure, you can use the government’s SHARE checklist. It helps you examine the claim and understand if it is legitimate before you like, retweet or spread the word.
What’s the SOURCE?
The source is the person or organisation that puts their name to a claim. If the claim is legit, it will have a credible source like a health official or public body. But a source could be anyone – someone’s Uncle Bob or a friend of a friend. If you can't easily identify the source, it's worth questioning if the claim could be made up.
Go beyond the HEADLINE
Headlines are there to grab attention. They often don’t tell the full story, because the aim is to get people to click or share.
Always read to the end of a story before you share anything about Covid-19 and vaccines.
Do some ANALYSIS
Don’t take anything at face value – go deeper. If something sounds too odd to be true, it probably is. Check who else is covering the story. If it's true, a serious or troubling claim would be reported widely across news outlets, so do a quick search online to try and verify it.
Has it been RETOUCHED?
Images and videos can easily be edited or retouched to suggest something different to their original context.
Look for ERRORS
Sometimes people set up fake social media accounts or new websites to spread misinformation. These can be made to look like familiar and trusted sources, like the BBC or NHS.
Check for odd-looking URLs and Twitter handles. Bad spelling and poor layouts should also ring alarm bells. Anything official about Covid-19 or the vaccines will have been checked many times to make sure everything looks right.
For local guidance and personal advice, you can visit a vaccine centre or walk-in clinic in Essex. NHS staff and health professionals will be happy to explain the facts and talk through any concerns you might have. There is no obligation to get the jab once you are there.
Visit the World Health Organization (WHO) website for the global picture of Covid-19.
The Vaccine Knowledge Project is a source of independent information about vaccines and infectious diseases from the University of Oxford.
And if you’re wondering whether flies spread Covid-19, the answer to all three questions at the start of this blog is ‘No’, according to the WHO’s mythbusters’ page, which aims to separate fact from fiction.
Everyone over the age of 5 can have their first and second vaccine doses.
If you are over 16, you can book your booster dose.Book your vaccine
If you or your child is aged 5 to 15, learn more about getting the Covid-19 vaccination.
Everyone aged 5 to 15 can have two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. At this time you will not be offered a booster.
Your parents or guardians will get a letter or email with information about your vaccine. They will be asked to give their consent. You need parental consent to get the vaccine.
Most people will be given the vaccine at school during school hours.
If you miss your first vaccination at school, you will be offered one at a later date.
If you are home schooled or do not go to school for any reason, you will still be offered a vaccine. Your parents and guardians will be contacted about when and where the vaccine will be offered.
NHS North East Essex recently held an Ask the Expert session about the vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds. Watch the video to hear the latest from GPs and public health experts.
Find out more about Covid-19 vaccination for children and young people on GOV.UK.
We understand you’re sus. Watch young people in Essex and across the country share their views and experiences.
How long you need to wait depends on your age:
This starts from the date you had symptoms, or the date of the positive test if you did not have any symptoms.
If you are 16 or older, you can have the booster vaccine 28 days after you had a positive test for Covid-19 or 28 days after your symptoms started.
The advice remains the same about getting your first and second dose of the vaccine. The booster jab will now also be available to everyone over the age of 18 from Wednesday 15 December. Vaccines are our main form of defence against all variants of Covid-19, so it is very important you get vaccinated and boosted.
The rules around self-isolation and testing have changed. Visit the testing page for details.
Everyone aged 16 or over can get the booster jab. If you are aged 12 to 15 and have an underlying health condition, you are also eligible for the booster.
It is really important to get the booster as it offers a much higher level of protection against the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
You can book your appointment through the NHS website or you can go to a walk-in centre. Everyone over the age of 12 will be offered two doses of the vaccine. If you are clinically vulnerable, you will need to have a second dose of vaccine 8 weeks after your first dose – your GP will have been in contact with you or your parents to discuss this with you already.
It can be tempting to think you aren’t at risk of Covid-19 at all - after all, if you are young and healthy, what’s the worst that could happen? Isn’t it basically like the flu? Well, no. Young and healthy people can be at a high risk of developing really nasty Covid-19 symptoms that can lead to hospitalisation, especially if you are unvaccinated.
Even if Covid-19 doesn’t badly impact you at the time, you could still suffer from Long Covid. This can make you tired, breathless, cause brain fog, and more, for months afterwards. Imagine feeling that unwell all the time - no thanks! It could even prevent you from working, going to class, hitting the gym, and doing all your other favourite activities for months or more.
To lower your risk, get both vaccines and the booster.
Even if you aren’t worried about catching Covid-19, there are other risks - to your social life! For example, going on holiday, seeing your family at Christmas, going to events such as festivals, and venues like clubs (if you are over 18) could be harder to access without being vaccinated. On the other hand, if you have the jab, you might not have to self-isolate if you get pinged!
No. You can feel good about doing something great for those you love and the wider community by getting the vaccine. If you are unvaccinated, you are far more likely to catch Covid-19 and pass it on, particularly to people who are vulnerable because of an existing health condition. Even if you don’t show any symptoms – it doesn’t mean you don’t have it or that you can’t pass it on. Want to keep visiting your grandparents safely? Being vaccinated will give you peace of mind.
This is a question that a lot of people have - and the answer is no, you won’t get Covid-19 from the vaccine itself. However, the vaccines do contain a small amount of the same genetic material as Covid-19. Like with all vaccines, that’s what needed to help your body develop more immunity.
The other ingredients are water (yes, just water!), infused with preservatives and stabilisers. Vegan, vegetarian or halal? You’re good to go! The UK vaccines do not contain animal products, foetal products, mercury or egg. And the Pfizer vaccine is alcohol-free.
One of the main worries you might have is how fast the vaccines have been developed. We understand! Don’t vaccines take years and years to be safe? Vaccines are hard work to develop, but top scientists were already working on potential vaccines for other coronavirus strains. This means they already had the raw material to create the vaccine you will be offered!
Once the pandemic started, a large (really, really large!) amount of money was put forward from the entire world to support development speed. But rest assured that every vaccine has gone through the same rigorous testing and clinical trials which are required every time a new one is developed.
The vaccine is safe and effective! That’s the best news, right? More than 81 million vaccines have been given in England alone, reducing the spread of Covid-19. You can be safe in the knowledge that the NHS will never offer unsafe vaccinations and that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has verified the safety of every vaccine.
We are getting a little more into the science of it now! Covid-19 vaccines have been tested in the laboratory, moving to test on human volunteers to ensure complete safety - and to check it works!
Each vaccine type has been tested on a cross-section of society, including those from black, Asian and minority ethnic heritage. In fact, they performed one in five tests on a person from a black, Asian and minority ethnic heritage background. The great news is that these tests proved that the vaccine performs the same across the board
Your friendly vaccinator will be a member of the NHS or those who the NHS has recruited to help out. Every single person is completely trained and supervised by registered healthcare professionals. Have a chat with the lovely person giving you your vaccine - they love what they do and come from a variety of fascinating backgrounds!
Understandably, you might worry about fertility issues, especially as we have all seen the rumours about this on social media recently - with some celebrities even unhelpfully jumping in. However, these claims are totally without merit. According to scientists – who, we hasten to add, definitely know more about the vaccine than celebs – there is no evidence that a link between the vaccine and fertility exists.
Some women have seen a change in their period cycle since having the vaccine. However, these are temporary changes that could occur to any woman at any time in her life. They should not be serious or permanent.
If this worries you, keep that in mind! It won’t impact your fertility, and if you are trying for a baby, the vaccine will not impact this, nor does it increase the risk of miscarriage. Even if you aren’t thinking about having kids now, it’s good to know for future reference. But having Covid-19 while you’re pregnant can end in still birth or seriously effect your baby’s birth weight. It is much, much safer for you and your baby to be vaccinated if you are pregnant.
Not everyone experiences side effects. You may feel mild symptoms such as having a sore arm, feeling tired, having a fever, getting a headache, or feeling a bit sick. You can deal with them like you would a mild cold, with paracetamol and rest - but call 111 if your side effects are more severe or you feel really worried. They will be happy to talk!
You can book an appointment online. If you are 12-15 years old you will need to attend your appointment with a parent or carer.
If you are 16 or over there are also walk-in options available where you don’t need an appointment. Usually, the vaccine is given at pharmacies, shopping centres, libraries, or at your GP practice. You may even find yourself in a church! There is a lot of flexibility with slots available during the weekdays, evenings, and weekends. It can be a quick and easy part of your day - then you can grab a coffee and enjoy a well-deserved rest.
When you go to your vaccine centre, you will need to show that you are over 12 in some cases. If you decide to book through the National Booking Service, you will need to provide your name and date of birth and your NHS number. However, you will never need to provide proof of address or your immigration status. If you are using a Walk in Centre, you do not need to be registered with a GP practice or have an NHS number. The vaccination is completely free to anyone who wants it – you will never be charged any money for it.
If you are 12-15 years old and you pre-book your appointment at a vaccination centre, you will need to attend with a parent or carer.
Please wear a ‘T’-shirt to make it as easy as possible on the day to give you the jab.
While there is no hard evidence on drinking after the vaccine, you should try to avoid a big session, as it may suppress your immune system. Save it for when you’re fully vaccinated and can properly enjoy it!
The vaccine is not compulsory. But you will be doing a great thing to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe. Not only that, but you will be able to take part in all the things you love again.
This sounds a bit tricky, right? Have you already built up enough immunity naturally? Well, no. You may have developed some natural immunity, but there is no hard evidence on how long-lasting or effective it is. The immunity given by the vaccine is more reliable, and you know it’s there.
You may have heard about new mutations of Covid-19. While this sounds scary, it is quite a normal part of viruses. The good thing is that the vaccines we are currently using do work against these new strains - and scientists can change the vaccines as the virus changes. The booster dose gives a huge increase in your ability to fight the Omicron variant, so it is more important than ever to have all 3 jabs.
You’re good to go now, right? If you’re over 12 you can get vaccinated! Let’s go!
You asked: Which booster vaccine should I get if I am allergic to penicillin?
Answer: You are fine to have any of the vaccines that you are offered.
You asked: How do I know if I have got Long Covid, and where do I go to for information and help?
Answer: You can find information and advice about Long Covid on the Your Covid Recovery website from the NHS.
You asked: Can you get vaccinated if you have had Swine Flu?
Answer: Yes. Swine Flu does not affect your ability to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
You asked: Do I need to get the flu vaccine as well as the Covid-19 vaccine?
Answer: To protect against both the flu and Covid-19, you need to have both vaccines.
All secondary aged children (up to year 11) and young people who have long-term health conditions (up to 17 years) are offered a free flu vaccination in school.
People aged 18 to 50 are offered the flu vaccination (free of charge) by their GP if they are vulnerable (because they have a long term condition such as asthma, chronic respiratory etc).
If you’re not vulnerable they can get a flu jab from pharmacies like Boots, but there will be a charge.
You asked: Is it safe to have the flu vaccine with the Covid-19 vaccine?
You asked: I only have one kidney. Is it safe for me to get vaccinated?
You asked: I spent time with people who have since developed flu-like symptoms but we all tested negative using lateral flow tests. Should we get a PCR test to make sure?
Answer: It’s a very good idea to, yes.
You asked: I’ve had Covid-19, how soon after can I get vaccinated?
Answer: You can get your vaccine 28 days after your Covid-19 symptoms started, or 28 days after you tested positive for Covid.
You asked: How do I cancel my vaccine appointment?
Answer: You can manage your vaccine appointment on the NHS website.
You asked: Do needles hurt?
Answer: Most people say the needle doesn’t hurt at all because it is so thin.
You asked: What are the risks if you have asthma?
Answer: There are no risks from the vaccine if you have asthma. You are more at risk of becoming very ill with Covid-19 if you have asthma, so it’s a very good idea to have the vaccination.