As we approach a year since the Coronavirus lockdown began in the UK, Dr Hilary Jones is here to explain the country’s vaccine options and what this means for you.
"At the time of writing more than 12.5 million people have already received their first dose of the vaccine" says Dr Hilary.
"You won’t know which vaccine you will receive until you are in the surgery or vaccination centre but rest assured that all have been approved through the same rigorous process."
The three major vaccines you could receive in this country are made by Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford / AstraZeneca.
Pfizer and Moderna's versions are called RNA or sometimes Messenger RNA vaccines. In layman's terms that means they use a tiny fragment of the virus's code (the messenger) injected into the body, which encourages your own cells to produce the antibodies needed to generate an immune response.
The Oxford vaccine is a little bit different as it uses a harmless virus to carry the same genetic material into the body, encouraging human cells to make antibodies against the virus’s spike protein, so the recipient is protected if the real virus comes along. The Oxford vaccine is the easiest of the three to use as it can be stored in a fridge, rather than needing exceptionally cold temperatures.
All of the vaccines require two doses, but the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation which advises the Government said the priority was to give as many at-risk people as possible a first jab.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
Very. The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through.
So far, over 12.5 million people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
The UK's response to the vaccination has been going well, and at speed.