The COVID-19 vaccination rollout programme is well underway and there are now more than 200 sites across London providing the lifesaving vaccine, with more going live all the time. We’re happy to report that some of our older friends have recently had their vaccine. Here’s what they had to say:

“There are a lot of myths going round about the vaccination but I feel it's safe because I've taken mine and have had no reaction. I would advise people to take it up because it's the only way to come out of this crisis.” - Doreen

“I would definitely recommend having the vaccine. Some people in our community think that pig products are used in the vaccine, but this isn't the case. I have been promoting it to the people I know.” - Dadoo

“It's a good idea to have the vaccine because people like me can't go outside at the moment and the vaccine will help things to get back to normal eventually.” - Bolanle

“It’s essential that everyone has the vaccine. Everyone who has it is one less person who’s likely to catch the virus or to pass the virus on to someone else.” - Winnie 

If you have any questions about the vaccine, you might find the information below helpful.

How does the vaccine work? Is it safe?

Yes the vaccine is safe. Like any licensed medicine approved for use in the UK, the vaccines currently on offer (Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna) have all gone through the necessary clinical trials and safety checks. The UK has some of the highest safety standards in the world and all the approved vaccines have met the standards set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The vaccination does not give you the virus; it kick-starts your immune response. This means that, as with other vaccines, you may experience some common side effects for a few days afterwards, such as a light fever or soreness around the injection site. So far, millions of people around the world have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.

I’ve heard there are animal products in the vaccine – is it true?

The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg. The British Islamic Medical Association has produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community which can be found at. Contact us on 020 8299 2623 if you would like us to send you a printed copy. There is also information available about the vaccine in community languages. If you know someone who needs this, let us know.

How do I get the vaccine?

If you are aged 45 and over, an eligible frontline health or social care worker, a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19*, have a learning disability, are clinically extremely vulnerable (high risk) or clinically vulnerable (moderate risk), you can now book online by visiting the NHS website or call 119 without needing an invitation.

Going through the website or calling 119 allows you to book an appointment at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy but not at a GP practice. If you would prefer to have your vaccine at a GP practice, please contact your GP directly who can refer you to a local primary care vaccination site.

You can view the full list of priority groups here and guidance on frontline health or social care workers and the high or moderate risk categories here.

*Carers can book online if you get a Carer’s Allowance or you are listed as a carer in your GP records. If you are a carer for someone with dementia who will need your support to book and travel to their appointment, make sure that their GP surgery knows they need to contact you about the arrangements. 

How do I get to my vaccine appointment?

If you have been invited to an appointment at a hospital or mass-vaccination centre and cannot get there or are anxious about going, do not worry as you don’t have to attend this appointment. Your GP will contact you and invite you for an appointment at a GP-led service closer to home.

If you are invited to the mass-vaccination centre at the Excel Centre and cannot get there, Age UK Lewisham and Southwark can provide taxi vouchers to help pay for the journey. Get in touch with us on 020 8299 2623 for further information. There are also options for people who are housebound to receive their vaccine at home. This service is limited and can only be offered to people who absolutely cannot attend a vaccine appointment elsewhere.

How do I know if a vaccine invitation is a scam?
We are aware of fake vaccine invitation emails and texts in circulation. Please be careful! You will never be asked to provide personal information in response to an invitation or be asked to pay. Healthcare workers will not show up at your home unexpectedly or without an appointment. If you are in any doubt call your GP surgery but use the number you know, not the one on the suspicious message.

Please continue to follow social distancing guidelines to control the spread of the virus and keep yourself and others safe, even after you have had the vaccine.

We’re all in this together. 

For more information please visit the NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group website.