QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COVID VACCINE
Can I choose which vaccine I get?
Not currently, we will have to get what we are given based on the availability of supplies. Currently it is anticipated that the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine will be approved within a handful of weeks and will be distributed shortly after to the appropriate groups.
Should I have the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID?
Yes. Given some uncertainties around the durability of immunity after true infection it is recommended that eligible people still have the vaccine. In the data from the trials of the two current vaccines there has been no safety issues with people who have had COVID receiving the vaccine and it hasn’t resulted in a bad reaction.
Will the vaccine make me feel unwell?
You may experience side effects from the vaccines such as soreness at the injection site (usually the muscle of your upper arm like with the flu vaccination), headache, fatigue and mild fever. These happen in around half to three quarters of people and usually resolve in 2 days.
Will paracetamol effect the response?
If you do get troubling symptoms such as fever or pain it is ok to take paracetamol in the usual doses as required. Fever can be seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine but they report that paracetamol use does not affect the subsequent immune response.
I have long covid. Should I get the vaccine?
Prolonged symptoms of COVID is not a contra-indication to having the COVID vaccines, but national advice is that if people are seriously debilitated, still under active investigation, or have evidence of recent deterioration, deferral of vaccination could be considered.
I am taking steroid tablets. Is the vaccine safe and will it be as effective?
There are very few people who cannot have the vaccines. It is safe in people who may be immunosuppressed as it is not a truly live vaccine. National guidance specifically identifies immunosuppressed people as a clinical risk group who should receive the immunisation, including those on high dose steroids, disease modifying and biologic therapies such as methotrexate and rituximab, anyone with haematological malignancy, anyone undergoing chemo- or radiotherapy, transplant recipients, and more. It is possible the vaccine may not make as strong an antibody response as for people who do not have immunosuppression but it is very likely to be better than having no vaccine. It remains important to follow current advice to avoid exposure to SARS-CoV-2 even after your vaccination.
I have angina. Can I have the vaccine?
Yes. Chronic heart disease, including ischaemic heart disease which requires regular medication, is an indication you are in a higher risk clinical group which should receive the vaccine. This also includes people with severe chronic respiratory disease (including people with asthma requiring continuous or frequent use of oral steroids to control symptoms or who have history of asthma attacks requiring hospital treatment – people with well controlled asthma are not considered higher risk), chronic liver, kidney or neurological disease or diabetes, including diabetes controlled by diet.
I’m taking warfarin. Can I have the vaccine?
Yes. People with bleeding disorders or those taking anti-coagulation medication can still have the vaccine if the clinician feels it can be given safely knowing your individual bleeding risk. It is still given intra-muscularly. If the bleeding disorder requires treatment such as clotting factor medicine for haemophilia, the vaccine should be scheduled for shortly after the treatment. People taking anti-coagulation can have the vaccine as long as they are stable. For those on warfarin as long as you are up to date with your regular testing and the last result was below the upper limit of your therapeutic range it should be safe to proceed.
Can I have other vaccines at the same time as the COVID vaccine?
This is not currently recommended. While it is likely to be safe, occasionally the immune response is less potent when some vaccinations are given together. It is, therefore, the preferred option that the COVID vaccine is not given within 7 days of previous vaccinations.
What if I have a different vaccine for my second dose?
The preferred option is that people have the same vaccine for both doses. However, it is possible that due to supply constraints this may not be possible. While this has yet to be tested with the two current vaccines, the good news is that it is thought where vaccines work via a similar process you should still get good protection even with different vaccines. The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines both result in a specific part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein becoming recognised by your immune system to develop immunity. It is, therefore, felt that even with a dose of each of the currently available vaccines you are still likely to produce a good immune response.
I had my first dose but then found out I am pregnant. Should I be worried?
Specific trials in pregnant women of the two COVID vaccines have not been carried out, but broadly there is no known risk from non-live vaccines (while the AstraZeneca vaccine contains live adenovirus this is non-replicating so cannot cause infection in the mother or developing baby). Nevertheless, given the lack of safety data the advice is avoid vaccination until after your delivery and not while you are breastfeeding. If you have had the vaccine the advice is to avoid pregnancy for 2 months. If you find out you are pregnant shortly after a dose of vaccine do not be alarmed. If you still need a 2nd dose this should be postponed until after delivery.
Can my child have the vaccination:
The vaccines have yet to be tested in children under 12 years old (these trials are underway), and so have not been licenced for use in this group. Given the low risk of COVID 19 infection in children, they are not currently part of the national vaccination programme. However, it may be that children with specific underlying medical conditions may be considered after the initial roll out phase.
I have had a nasty reaction to my first Covid vaccine dose:
People with possibly anaphylaxis after their first dose should not have further COVID 19 Vaccinations. If yo udo have any adverse reaction after your vaccination, you should report this to your GP.
The following HSE page offers you some further information: Covid Information