Watch our COVID-19 Vaccine Q and A

A panel of health and care experts from across Plymouth chaired an online question and answer session to help provide reassurance and the facts around the Coronavirus vaccine to local people. 

Hosted by Emi Dowse, the Vice President for Education from the University of Plymouth Students Union. On the panel was: 
•    Dr Alex Degan, Medical Director for Primary Care for Devon
•    Sue Wilkins, Associate Chief Nurse and Director of Mass Vaccination
•    Ruth Harrell, the Director of Public Health at Plymouth City Council. 

If you missed the event, you can watch it online here. 

Who can have the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to:

  • People aged 12 and over
  • People who live or work in care homes
  • Health and social care workers
  • People who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance - find out more

Where can I get my vaccine?

Age 12-15: Children aged 12 to 15 in England are now being offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations are being offered in school, or by booking through the National Booking system.

Age 16+: People aged 16 or over can now book their vaccine appointment online through the National Booking system or attend a walk in.

There are also walk-in sites across the city. See here for the latest local locations or look at the national ‘Grab a Jab’ page.

Why are 12-15 year olds being offered the vaccine?

All children aged 12 to 15 years are being offered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, following advice from the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) to the government. Very few healthy children and young people with COVID-19 go on to have severe disease, but offering vaccination to 12 to 15 year olds should help to reduce the risk of complications, reduce time out of education, and reduce the spread of COVID-19 within schools.

Children will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the vaccine approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for children and young people over 12 years of age. This follows a thorough review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine in this age group.

The NHS is  working with local secondary schools on the rollout of the programme, it is being delivered in a similar way that other school-aged vaccinations such as HPV and flu are managed. Consent will be sought from parents, guardians and carers before vaccination starts. Alternative arrangements will be made for children who are home schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health settings.

Currently, one dose of the vaccine will be offered to most children in this age group. Children in this age group who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), or live with someone who is immunosuppressed, will be offered two doses and will be contacted by their GP to arrange this.

In addition, to ensure that this age group can be vaccinated as soon as possible, appointments can also be booked on the NHS booking service 

You can read more about the vaccination programme for children here:

Am I eligible for a COVID-19 booster?

The COVID-19 vaccines provide high levels of protection against hospitalisation or of dying from the virus. To maintain this high level of protection through the coming winter, the JCVI has advised that booster vaccines be offered to those more at risk from serious disease, and who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme (priority groups 1 to 9).

This includes:

  • Those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • All adults aged 50 years or over
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • All those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and adult carers
  • Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

The JCVI advises that booster vaccines are offered at least 5 months and one week after a second dose of the vaccine. 

You can book your booster via the national system, or attend a walk-in.

Can unpaid carers have the COVID-19 booster jab?

Yes, carers are entitled to the COVID vaccine and booster. It is important for unpaid Carers in Plymouth to get their COVID and flu vaccinations to give themselves, and the people they care for, as much protection as possible against these illnesses this winter.

The COVID jab does not protect against flu so it is vital to have both vaccinations to reduce your chances of becoming seriously unwell and needing hospital treatment. Getting vaccinated helps you and the NHS.

You will need to wait until you are invited by the NHS to have your booster. But if you haven’t heard from your GP and had your second vaccine over 5 months ago, please contact your GP.

If you encounter any problems, you can get help to organise your vaccination through the Devon Vaccine Support Team.  To find out more email or call 01752 398836.

Please remember to also have your flu vaccination. It is safe to have the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccinations at the same time.  This would involve having two separate jabs. If you have the Shingles vaccine you must wait one week before having your COVID-19 booster.

Is the vaccine safe?

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 COVID-19 vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety. 

Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.

So far, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or clotting problems, have been very rare.

To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:

Find out more about the JCVI guidance on the COVID-19 vaccination of young people aged 16 to 17 and information about the vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds.

Does the vaccine have any side effects?

Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • A sore arm where the needle went in or feeling tired
  • A headache
  • Feeling achy or feeling or being sick

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to. You may get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery 1 or 2 days after having your vaccination. But if you have a high temperature that lasts longer than 2 days, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste you may have COVID-19. Stay at home and get a test. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.

Find out more about the side effects.

How do I get my COVID vaccination status for travel?

If you’re planning to travel abroad, you can get proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 via the NHS appNHS website, or by calling 119. Please do not contact your GP about your vaccination status as GPs cannot provide letters showing your vaccine record. 

Some countries may also require a negative COVID-19 test result. Always check the entry requirements for the country you are visiting before you book your travel. Step-by-step travel advice can be found on GOV.UK.