Covid-19 vaccine FAQs for younger adults

The Covid-19 vaccine: frequently asked questions and answers for younger adults

Are you aged over 16 and have questions about the Covid-19 vaccine? We’ve got the answers.

From how safe is it, to will I get side effects, or why should I get it if I’m low risk?

Simply click on the questions below.

Book your vaccination today.

Young people are affected by Covid-19 and you might be at a higher risk than you think. If you are not vaccinated you are much more likely to get more serious symptoms and have to go into hospital – this includes young people. 

You are also at risk of long-Covid which can cause extreme tiredness, breathlessness and more; and stops you from doing normal everyday things like walking, as well as sports and going to the gym, or working, potentially for months or even longer. 

Vaccines reduce the chance of Covid-19 infection by almost 80% after two doses and only 35% after one. Just under 60% of people aged 18-24 and over 60% of people aged 24-29 in England have already had at least one jab.

If someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, you will not need to self-isolate if you're fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS. This means you wont miss out on work or going out.

Getting the vaccine doesn’t just protect you against getting seriously ill, it also protects your family and friends. Anyone who doesn’t get vaccinated is more likely to catch and potentially pass on the virus to more vulnerable people, especially older people, even if they have been vaccinated. This could be a parent or grandparent, or a friend.  

The vaccines contain a fragment of genetic material which causes Covid-19 and triggers your body’s natural production of immune cells to protect you. The main ingredient is actually water, with preservatives and stabilisers added to keep them safe. None of the ingredients in the vaccine can cause you to get Covid-19 itself. 

The vaccines being used in the UK do not contain animal or foetal products, mercury or egg. These vaccines are halal, and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. The Pfizer vaccine does not contain any alcohol.

Scientists had already been working on possible vaccines for other coronaviruses and this gave them a head start. Huge amounts of money were put into it from around the world and where possible, steps in the development process were done at the same time. 

Vaccines were being made while still being tested and data was checked by the experts, like our medicines regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), as they went along. Clinical trials were able to find people to test the vaccines very quickly and the high number of infected people meant its effectiveness could more easily be tested.

Yes, it’s safe, and it works. Over 79 million vaccines have been given in the UK. It is safe and effective, and reduces the spread of the virus so we can get back to normal. 

The NHS does not offer any vaccinations until it is safe to do so. The UK medicines regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved these vaccines and there have been rigorous checks at every stage of their development and manufacturing process.  

Like all medicines, Covid-19 vaccines are first tested in the laboratory, then tested in human volunteers and studies called clinical trials. These tests confirm how the vaccines work, as well as assuring their safety and effectiveness. 

The vaccines have been tested on a large group of people, with around one in five tested from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. The results from the trials show that the vaccines work the same in all groups, regardless of ethnicity or race. There is no difference in side effects or adverse reactions between different ethnic groups.

Vaccinators are either existing NHS staff or people recruited by the NHS specifically for the programme. Everyone who gives the vaccine is fully trained and registered healthcare professionals provide clinical supervision.

There is no link between the Covid-19 vaccine and infertility. Not only is there no evidence that vaccines cause fertility problems in men or women, medical experts say there is no realistic way they could. Rumours circulating on social media are false.

There are reports from some women who have seen a change to their period cycle or symptoms after having their vaccination. Dr Pat O’Brien, Vice President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "It’s important to remember these side effects are mild and should not deter women from having the vaccine when they are called. Many women will experience a temporary change in their periods from time to time during their lives.”

There nothing in the vaccine that can affect the fertility of women and there is no need to avoid pregnancy after Covid-19 vaccination. The Covid-19 vaccine also does not affect your likelihood of having a miscarriage.

Like all medicines, the Covid-19 vaccine can cause side effects but not everyone gets them and reports of serious side effects are very rare. The vast majority of side effects are mild, completely normal and disappear after a few days and include a sore arm, tiredness, fever, headache or feeling sick. You can take painkillers like paracetamol if you need to and if you’re worried you can call 111. You can’t catch Covid-19 from the vaccine.

Getting a vaccine is quick and easy. If you live in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, City and Hackney, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge or Havering and are within three months of your 18th birthday, you can book yourself in (either directly or using the national booking system), and sometimes walk-in, for your Covid-19 vaccination at over 50 vaccination centres in north east London. 

These vaccinations centres are spread across our communities in lots of easy to get to places like pharmacies, GP practices, libraries and shopping centres. You can get vaccinated whenever suits you including on weekends and in evenings, you usually won’t have to wait long and can expect to be in and out within half an hour. You don’t have to wait to be invited and you don’t need to bring any paperwork.

For centres, opening times, and booking information in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge click here. 

For centres, opening times and booking information in City and Hackney click here. 

For centres, opening times and booking information in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest click here.

A map of all sites in north east London can be found here.

It is really important you have both doses of the vaccine to give you maximum protection from Covid-19. You should book your second jab eight weeks after your first dose.

People aged 16-17 can now get a Covid-19 vaccine to protect yourself and those around you from Covid-19. 

You can walk into the vaccination centres listed here without an appointment (no need to book, just turn up) and get your Pfizer jab now. 

You do not need to come with a parent/guardian.

Second doses are really important in giving you maximum protection from Covid-19. Vaccines reduce the chance of Covid-19 infection by almost 80% after two doses and only 35% after one. Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine gives a 96% protection against hospitalisation. You can book second doses from eight weeks after your first jabs.

You can walk in to some vaccination clinics and some you need to book. No proof of address or immigration status is required. If you book on the national booking service you will be asked for your name and date of birth. If you can’t book on the national booking service, information on where and how to get vaccinated at one of the many sites is here, many of which you can just walk into (including for over 16s):

For centres, opening times, and booking information in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge click here. 

For centres, opening times and booking information in City and Hackney click here. 

For centres, opening times and booking information in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest click here.

If you booked through the National Booking Service then you should already have your second dose appointment. You can also log on to the system and manage your appointments. If you walked in or booked directly at a vaccination site you may have been given your second dose appointment, you can book on the National Booking Service, or visit here for information on sites across north east London and how to book them. Second vaccinations are not being offered sooner than 8 weeks after the first. 

There is no published data on the effects of alcohol on how well the body builds immunity. There is no evidence to suggest you need to avoid alcohol together, but drinking large quantities can suppress your immune system.

No. But you should get two doses to protect yourself, family, friends and community. The vaccines have saved more than 27,000 lives in the UK already. Without two jabs, you may not be able to travel abroad or do certain jobs.

If you have had Covid-19 then your body may have built up some natural immunity to the virus, however we don’t know how long this immunity lasts or if it fully protects you from catching Covid-19 again. It is likely that natural immunity won’t last as long as the immunity given to you by a vaccine, and there is no way of knowing if you have any protection. So, it is still very important to take up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you.

It is normal for viruses to mutate, and some do so quicker and more effectively than others. Many of these mutations will not be significant or a cause for concern, but some like the current strain we are seeing in the UK can lead to things like higher transmission. The existing vaccines are still effective against it.

Over the long term it is common for virus mutations to be less severe. The vaccines can be rapidly adapted to meet these challenges, and in time it is likely there will be a range of vaccines like there are with the flu vaccine.

There now nearly 100 vaccination centres in north east London. Everyone aged 16 and over can get a vaccine and we urge anyone who has not yet had their first vaccine to get theirs.

Everyone over 16 can now book via the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services herePeople aged 16-17 can walk into the vaccination centres listed here or find a local vaccination service here without an appointment (no need to book, just turn up) and get your jab now. You do not need to come with a parent/guardian. 

People aged 16-17 are now being offered second doses of the vaccines as long as it has been 12 weeks since the first. You can book these now on the national booking system, call 119, or find out about local walk in services here

Q: Can 12-15s get a jab?

The Government has announced that all people aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. You can read the letter from the four CMOs setting out their recommendation here. Leaflets and guides for all eligible young people are here. We are now working with NHS partners and schools across north east London on the best way to deliver these vaccinations asap.

The JCVI previously advised that children aged 12 -15 should be offered a Covid-19 vaccination if they have specific underlying health conditions that puts them at risk of serious illness or if they are household contacts of adults or children who are immunosuppressed (we have already been offering vaccines to those in these circumstances aged 16 and over). Those affected are being or have been contacted for their vaccinations.

Information on the COVID-19 vaccination for children and young people aged 12 to 15 years is here. Easy read version here.

Updated: 25/11/2021