Details about the COVID-19 vaccine

We understand that some staff might want more information to make an informed decision about receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

We have collated information about the different vaccines and their ingredients below.

To see the latest data on the effectiveness of the vaccines visit – COVID-19 vaccine weekly surveillance reports (weeks 39 to 3, 2021 to 2022) – GOV.UK (


What vaccines are available for COVID-19?

There are four  COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK. Click on each to read more about the ingredients, characteristics and how each were approved for use:

How long does the vaccine take to become effective?

The MHRA have said these vaccines are highly effective, the vaccine becomes effective from 2-3 weeks after it is given. However, to get full protection people need to have their second dose – this is really important.

Full and longer-lasting protection kicks in around two weeks after that second dose.

To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the second dose of the vaccine can be scheduled from 8 weeks after the first.

How well do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects (long COVID). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others.

Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
  • protect against COVID-19 variants

The 1st dose should give you some protection from 3 or 4 weeks after you’ve had it. But you need 2 doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.

There is a chance you might still get or spread COVID-19 even if you have a vaccine, so it’s important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.


Watch an NHS YouTube video explaining what’s in the COVID-19 vaccines and how they work


Side effects and safety

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

They can cause some side effects, but not everyone gets them.

Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm from the injection
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines side effects and safety

Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility

You can get vaccinated against COVID-19 if:

  • you’re pregnant or think you might be
  • you’re breastfeeding
  • you’re trying for a baby or might get pregnant in the future

The vaccines you’ll be offered depends if you’re pregnant and how old you are. The vaccines cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

Find out more about pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 vaccine ingredients

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain egg or animal products.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains a tiny amount of alcohol, but this is less than in some everyday foods like bread.

You can find out about the ingredients in the vaccines currently available in the UK:

Last Modified: 1:43pm 27/01/2022