Information on COVID-19 vaccination: easy-read guide

Content originally from GOV.UK

What is COVID-19 or coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a new illness. It is sometimes called coronavirus.

Most people will get better from coronavirus at home but some people can get very poorly and have to go to hospital. Sadly, sometimes people can die from coronavirus.

Signs of coronavirus:

  • a new cough and you keep on coughing
  • a high temperature
  • your smell or taste going away or changing

If you have the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test.

Further information on symptoms is available on NHS.UK. If you cannot use the NHS website, phone 119 free of charge.

About the vaccine

The coronavirus vaccine is an injection.

You will need 2 injections of the vaccine, which will be up to 3 to 12 weeks apart.

The vaccine has been tested to make sure it is safe.

Who should have the coronavirus vaccines

Some people are more likely to get poorly from coronavirus than other people. If you are one of them, you will be offered the vaccine.

Some people who are more likely to get poorly include:

  • people living in a care home for the elderly
  • people aged 65 years and over
  • adults with Down’s syndrome

The vaccine will be also offered to adults with these health conditions:

  • problems with your kidney or liver
  • heart conditions
  • some brain conditions
  • breathing problems like asthma (use of steroid inhaler often)

Whether you get the vaccine will depend on what condition you have, and how serious it is.

This list doesn’t cover everybody. If you are more likely to get poorly, you should have been told by your doctor.

If you have a condition that makes you more likely to get very unwell from coronavirus it’s called being ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’. This means that you will be able to get the coronavirus injection earlier than other people.

Health and social care staff will also be able to get the vaccine.

Your main carer is able to get the vaccine.

If you are a paid care worker for a vulnerable person, you will also be able to get the vaccine.

Knowing if you should get a vaccine

Your GP (family doctor) should tell you if you should get the coronavirus vaccine.

Some people may receive a letter, or a phone call to invite them for their vaccination.

How to book your appointment

Your invitation letter will explain who to call for your appointment.

Use the telephone to make your appointment.

You will get told where to go for your vaccine and when.

Some people may be asked to go to a vaccination centre to have their vaccine.

If you’re not sure, speak to your GP (family doctor).

What to do next

When you’ve had the first injection, you will get told where and when to go for your second injection.

You should have a record card with your next appointment written on it for an appointment in 3 to 12 weeks time.

Although the first dose will give you good protection, you need the second dose to get longer lasting protection.

Keep your card safe and make sure you go to your second appointment to get your second injection.

How long the vaccine takes to work

It can take a few weeks for the vaccine to protect you.

Does the vaccine work for everyone?

The vaccine doesn’t completely stop everyone getting coronavirus, but if you do still catch coronavirus it shouldn’t make you as poorly if you’ve had the vaccine.


If you have serious allergies, you should check with your doctor if it is safe for you to get the vaccine. You might have a serious allergy if you carry an EpiPen.

Pregnant or think you may be

Some women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may have the vaccine. Some may wait until after they have had their baby. Talk to your GP or midwife about it.

Problems with your immune system

The vaccine is safe if you have problems with your immune system (this is when your body finds it hard to fight infections).

Side effects

Very common side effects include:

  • your arm feeling heavy or sore where you had the injection
  • feeling achy or like you’ve got the flu
  • feeling tired
  • having a headache

If you feel feverish (like you’re very hot or very cold) you should:

  • rest
  • take some paracetamol
  • feel better in less than a week

You cannot catch coronavirus from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught coronavirus and not realise until after your vaccination appointment.

If you are feeling very poorly or you’re worried you might have coronavirus, call 111 or go on the 111 website. Make sure you tell 111 that you have just had your coronavirus vaccine

If NHS 111 tell you to see a doctor or a nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination too. If you can, show them your vaccination card.

If you think you have a serious side effect from the vaccine you can report them using the yellow card scheme. The Coronavirus Yellow Card system is a website where you can report any side effects from the vaccine. You may need support to access this website.

Do you need the COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve had the flu vaccine?

It’s important to have the flu vaccine (jab) and the coronavirus vaccine.

You should wait 1 week after you’ve had your flu vaccine (jab) before you get the coronavirus vaccine.

What to do if you are not well when it is your next appointment

If you are not feeling well, wait to have your vaccine when you feel better.

You should try to have it as soon as possible. You can call the same number that you used to make your first appointment.

You should not attend a vaccine appointment if you are self-isolating, waiting for a coronavirus test or unsure if you are fit and well.

Can you give coronavirus to anyone after you have had the vaccine?

The vaccine can’t give you coronavirus.

Having the vaccine makes you less likely to get very ill from coronavirus.

We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus.

You still need to:

  • stay away from other people (social distancing)
  • wear a face mask
  • wash your hands carefully and often
  • follow the current guidance