The COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to people in order of those most at risk and the UK government has been successful so far in getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
As of 25th March 2021, nearly half the UK population has received their first vaccination.
It is not a legal requirement to have the vaccine and some people may be advised not to have the jab due to other health concerns. There are others who will not have the vaccine because they are worried that there is no data on the long term consequences of taking it.
As the vaccines have only been developed in the past few months, it is still too early to report on how long exactly the protection will last. However the World Health Organisation does report that continued research will provide the information we need. The WHO are still learning how resilient this protection is and how long it lasts. There is the added complication of Covid variants and the need for future vaccines to be adapted to deal with these.
Tens of millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects or allergic reactions, have been very rare. The NHS state that the vaccine is safe and effective and gives the best protection against the virus.
The Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines, which are all approved for use in the UK, have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness which are set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
There have been reports of a small number of people having blood clots after the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines however blood clots are common and can occur naturally. The MHRA have confirmed that there is currently no evidence to suggest the clots were caused by the vaccine just as there is no evidence that the vaccines affect fertility or will change your DNA.
If someone does not want to be vaccinated, Employers should listen to their concerns and be sensitive towards personal situations and must keep any concerns confidential.
The overall evidence in the UK is clear that the Covid-19 vaccines have already had a major part in reducing Covid infection rates and deaths. So it is clear that in the short term, at least, the vaccine will allow us to get back to normal working and social activities more quickly than would otherwise be the case.
A word of caution. The vaccine is not 100% effective at stopping infection. So social distancing, careful hygiene and sanitising and the wearing of face masks in crowded environments will continue to be the sensible approach.