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Covid: What do under-30s need to know about the vaccine?

By Philippa Roxby
Health reporter

image sourcePA Media

Many young adults are still to get their first vaccine, although all over-18s are now eligible.

Infections among people in their 20s are at record levels, with 1,155 in for every 100,000 in the population testing positive, Public Health England figures show.

How many young people have been vaccinated?

Almost 90% of all UK adults have had a first dose and about 70% are fully vaccinated.

But about 34% of 18- 29-year-olds in England – about 3 million people – haven’t been vaccinated at all. In Scotland, about 30% are not yet vaccinated.

However, under-30s only became eligible for the Covid vaccine in June.

Half of all under-30s in England – more than four million people – received a first dose in the three weeks after the vaccination programme was opened to those in their twenties.

The vaccination rate is still climbing for this group in England and Scotland.

Do I have to have the vaccine?

Covid vaccines are not compulsory, but everyone is being urged to get two doses to protect themselves, their family, friends and wider society.

Younger people are less likely to die from Covid-19. But a study found under-50s who do end up in hospital are almost as likely to suffer from complications with kidneys, lungs and other organs.

Without a jab you may not be able to do certain jobs. And some countries only allow fully vaccinated travellers to enter.

media captionCovid vaccine: How are young people responding to the jab?

People with both jabs don’t have to self-isolate on return to the UK from amber list countries, with the exception of France.

The government has also said clubbers and people attending some other venues in England will have to be fully vaccinated by the end of September.

What’s the point of getting the Covid vaccine if people are still ending up in hospital?’

Covid is not going to disappear – experts say it’s going to be here for many years to come.

Vaccines are our best defence against coronavirus. Covid vaccines are said to be 90% effective against symptomatic disease. That means the risk of becoming ill is 90% lower among vaccinated people than among those who have not been vaccinated.

They are not perfect, however, which means, unfortunately, some people will still get infected and some of those will need hospital care. And some, will sadly die.

But evidence from around the world shows Covid vaccines are very effective and will save many save lives.

How can I get my vaccine?

In England, book online or call 119. There are also walk-in clinics where you don’t need an appointment. Check your local health providers and social media groups for details.

In Scotland, over-18s can register on the NHS inform website or by calling 0800 030 8013. Over-18s can also get jabbed without an appointment at various mass vaccination centres. Check local websites and social media for details.

In Wales, over-18s have been offered the vaccine.

In Northern Ireland, over-18s can book online or call 0300 200 7813

What vaccine will I get and can I choose?

You can’t choose what vaccine you get. It’s based on your age and whatever vaccines are available at the time.

If you’re under 40 or pregnant you will be offered Pfizer or Moderna.

What gap should be left between doses?

The “sweet spot” is eight weeks between jabs.

Any earlier means you won’t be protected for as long, says government scientific advisor Professor Anthony Harnden.

What are the side effects and the risk of blood clots?

Most are mild, completely normal and disappear after a few days.

They happen because the body’s defences are reacting to the vaccine, and include:

  • a sore arm
  • tiredness
  • fever
  • headache
  • feeling sick

The under 55s are more likely to get side-effects from Pfizer and Moderna.

Under-40s are being offered alternatives to AstraZeneca because of a possible link between the vaccine and extremely rare blood clots in a tiny number of people.

It’s not clear if the vaccine is the cause, but the clots appear to happen slightly more often in younger adults. For everyone else, the benefits of AZ and the other vaccines far outweigh risks, the UK regulator says.

media captionWhy it is normal for some people to experience short-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccines

Can I drink alcohol after the vaccine?

There is no published data on the effects of alcohol on how well the body builds immunity after the vaccine.

There’s no evidence to suggest you should avoid alcohol altogether, but drinking in large quantities can suppress your immune system.

Does the vaccine affect periods?

There are plausible reasons the vaccine might cause changes to periods. The jab prompts an increase in activity in the immune system, which also plays a role in the menstrual cycle.

But claims on social media that the vaccine can cause fertility problems are false, experts have said.

What if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Doctors and midwives are urging pregnant women to get a vaccine, to protect themselves and their babies.

Infections are rising and coronavirus can cause serious illness in some women in later pregnancy.

A recent study also found a slightly higher rate of stillbirth in pregnant women who tested positive around the time of birth (although the numbers were still very low).

You are encouraged to discuss any questions you have with your GP or midwife.

If you’re planning a pregnancy or are breastfeeding you can still get vaccinated, government guidance says.

media captionWhy it’s recommended you get the Covid vaccine if you’re pregnant

What if I’ve got long Covid?

A recent study suggests vaccination can help improve long Covid symptoms.

The vaccine could be pressing the body’s reset button and helping it recover, researchers say.

What about people with allergies?

A very small number of people have experienced a severe allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

This can happen with some vaccines. You should discuss any allergies with your healthcare professional.

What if I hate needles?

When you are jabbed, say you don’t like needles. Then look away.

Many people say the injection is painless and hardly notice anything.

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