Early years vaccine engagement sessions – FAQs

Following on from the recent round of catch up sessions, please below some of the questions which were asked at the sessions but the team were unable to answer at that time.

Early Years Vaccine Engagement

Q: I have a child who is 17, do you know when older secondary school children will be offered a vaccine?


  • No decisions have been made on whether children should be offered vaccinations. While clinical trials are underway to test the efficacy and safety of Covid-19 vaccines in children and young adults, these trials have not concluded yet.
  • We must wait for the results of those trials. It is important to remember that following infection, almost all children will have asymptomatic infection or mild disease.
  • We will be guided by the advice of our experts on these issues including the independent Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation.

Q: Will there be a mixing of vaccinations and do you know if there will be booster going forward?


  • More evidence is needed to understand whether a seasonal vaccination or booster dose might be needed.
  • There are no current plans to mix these vaccines.

Q: Can individuals opt not have AZ and be given an alternative?


No. Any vaccines that are available will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get will be highly effective and protect them from coronavirus.

Q: Will all age groups have at least their first vaccination by the end of July?


Our target remains to offer a vaccine to all adults by the end of July.

Q: How long does it take to build immunity after receiving the vaccination?


  • Pfizer: One dose reduces risk of hospitalisation by 85% (all ages, 4 weeks after dose)
  • AstraZeneca: One dose reduces risk of hospitalisation by 94% (all ages, 4 weeks after dose)

Q: Why is UK doing a 3 month gap in doses and many other countries only 3 weeks?


  • The NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups. Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first. The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.
  • One dose of either vaccine provides a high level of protection from Covid-19.
  • The JCVI has recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority.

Q: If you have Covid-19 do you need to have the vaccine?


  • The MHRA have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t.
  • As with all new viruses, we won’t know how long those who have recovered from coronavirus or the level of their immunity. The most important thing is to vaccinate those who are most at risk from Covid, so we will continue to follow the science and advice from the JCVI and chief medical officers.

Q: I am pregnant and if I am offered it and decline, can I request it after pregnancy easily?


If you’re pregnant, or think you might be, you can have the COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll be invited when your age group are offered it or earlier if you have a health condition or reason that means you’re eligible.

It’s preferable for you to have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. This is because they’ve been more widely used during pregnancy in other countries and have not caused any safety issues.

When you’re offered a vaccine, speak to your GP surgery to arrange an appointment. This is to make sure you go to a vaccination centre offering the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

At your appointment, you’ll be able to discuss the benefits and potential risks of having the vaccine in pregnancy. This is so you can make an informed decision about having it. You can also speak to a GP or your maternity team for advice.

It’s recommended you have the same vaccine for both doses.

If you had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for your 1st dose and did not have any serious side effects you should have it for your 2nd dose.

You can also have any of the COVID-19 vaccines if you’re breastfeeding. You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine and cannot pass it to your baby through your breast milk.

There’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant. There’s no need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

Q: Age cohorts – now over 40’s – are they going to do it in 5-year chunks or a couple of years at a time?


  • The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has published its final advice for phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, setting out that the most effective way to minimise hospitalisations and deaths is to continue to prioritise people by age.
  • This is because age is assessed to be the strongest factor linked to mortality, morbidity and hospitalisations, and because the speed of delivery is crucial as we provide more people with protection from COVID-19.
  • All four parts of the UK have followed the recommended approach by the independent expert committee.
  • The UK Government remains has met its target to offer a vaccine to all those in the phase one priority groups by mid-April and is on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July.
  • As the first phase of the programme is delivered, we will gain more evidence on safety, efficacy, and protection against transmission. Careful consideration will be given to the risk-benefit in these populations.
  • Our vaccine delivery plan can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-covid-19-vaccines-delivery-plan/uk-covid-19-vaccines-delivery-plan#prioritisation-1

Q: Mutations and effectiveness of the vaccine against them


  • We are working hard to ensure that our vaccine portfolio is resilient to new variants. This includes assessing the impact of new and future variants on the efficacy of the vaccines currently in our portfolio.
  • There is currently no strong evidence that the existing vaccines will not work to a degree against new variants, particularly preventing serious illness and mortality. So the existing vaccine rollout is mission critical for tackling new variants.
  • We will continue to monitor the picture with variants as it develops.