What vaccine should I get and do I have a choice?

Unless you have been living under a rock the last twelve months, you will know that the Coronavirus pandemic has swept across the world, threatening hundreds of lives, educations and mental health.

The UK government has ordered nearly 370 million doses of several vaccines, all of which have been approved or in development. This means every day more and more people are being vaccinated against the virus, meaning it will be your turn before you know it.

Here is what you need to know about the vaccines available in the UK, as well as if you get a choice and when you will be eligible to have one.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – 100m doses

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The Oxford vaccine, also known as the AstraZeneca vaccine, is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus. When your body is injected with it, your immune system will know how to fight the Coronavirus if it needs to.

This vaccine is also easier to distribute, as unlike other vaccines, the Oxford one can be stored in a normal fridge. However, a lot of people have reported dizziness, headaches, muscular pains, and fever after having the first dose of this vaccine.

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – 40m doses

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The Pfizer vaccine, also known as the BioNTech vaccine, was 95% effective at protecting people from Coronavirus in the clinical trials. The Pfizer vaccine has already rolled out, and people are getting it all over the UK. However, It has to be stored at -70C, which makes it harder to distribute than the Oxford vaccine.

Moderna vaccine – 17m doses

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The Moderna vaccine is the third to be approved in the UK, and it is expected that the vaccine will roll out later this April. The clinical trial results found that Moderna was 94.1% effective. The vaccine is similar to the Pfizer one, as it uses messenger RNA to deliver genetic codes to cells so that they can tell the immune system to produce antibodies to fight it.

Novavax – 60m doses

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While it hasn’t been approved yet by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency, it is expected to be approved any day now, and the vaccine has already begun to be manufactured in the UK. The vaccine has been 89.3% effective in the clinical trials, and it has also proved to be strong against new variants of the virus.

Valneva – 60m doses

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Another vaccine you have probably never heard of is the Valneva vaccine, which is still in trials, but manufacturing has already begun in Scotland. The vaccine uses a dead version of the coronavirus to teach the body’s immune system how to fight it. Once it is approved, 60 million doses will be given in the UK.

Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) – 30m doses

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The Jansseen vaccine, otherwise known as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, has also not yet been approved. However, the vaccine is already in production but facing difficulties after a large batch did not meet quality standards and can’t be used. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens with this one.

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur – 60m doses

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The GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur vaccine has not yet been approved and still appears to be in the testing phase. But if the studies are successful and the vaccine is deemed safe and meets the standards required, we can expect to see it being rolled out in the UK as well.

Can I choose my vaccine?

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At the moment, it is not possible to choose the vaccine you have, as everyone will be offered the vaccine recommend as the safest and most effective for someone of your age/risk group.

When can I have my vaccine?

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Currently, anyone over the age of 50 or who is a care home resident, healthcare worker, or someone that is required to shield or has certain health conditions can be vaccinated. Whilst this may not sound like a lot, this is estimated to be 31.8 million people. By July 31st, it is hoped that everyone aged 18 or over is vaccinated, starting with the 40-49s, then the 30 – 39s, followed by the 18 – 29s. This is approximately another 21 million people.

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