What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways, and sometimes other parts of your body. It’s caused by a type of virus called a coronavirus. COVID-19 is highly infectious. It spreads through the air through droplets produced when people cough or sneeze, or when they touch surfaces where the droplets have landed and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. COVID-19 can cause serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.
What is a COVID-19 vaccine?
A vaccine is a substance that should improve immunity (protection) to a particular disease. A COVID-19 vaccine will offer you protection from COVID-19. If people are vaccinated, it should also reduce the numbers who become seriously ill or even die from COVID-19 in our community.
Vaccines teach your immune system how to protect you from diseases. It is much safer for your immune system to learn how to protect you through vaccination than by getting COVID-19.
Why is it important to get a COVID-19 vaccination?
Getting a COVID-19 vaccination should protect you from the serious complications of COVID-19. The aim in offering a vaccination to the population is to protect people and reduce the illness and deaths caused by this virus.
While it is up to you to decide to get a vaccination, the HSE strongly recommends that you do so as soon as it is offered to you. The HSE is offering a vaccination free of charge.
I already had COVID-19, so do I need to get a vaccination?
Yes. Even if you have already had COVID-19, you could still get it again. A vaccination will reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 again. Even if you do get COVID-19 again, a vaccination can reduce the seriousness of your symptoms.
I have COVID-19 now, should I get a vaccination?
No. You should delay getting vaccinated until you recover from COVID-19 and ring the Practice to inform us so we can reschedule a vaccination appointment.
• at least four weeks after you first notice symptoms or
• four weeks since you tested positive for COVID-19
The vaccine being offered to you is called Comirnaty, manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech or COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna, manufactured by Moderna.
These mRNA vaccines teach your body how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response, without using the live virus that causes COVID-19.
Your body then makes antibodies that help fight the infection if the real virus enters your body in the future.
How are these COVID-19 vaccines given?
These COVID-19 vaccines are given as an injection into your upper arm. It will only take a few minutes.
How many doses of these COVID-19 vaccines will I need?
You will need two doses of one of these COVID-19 vaccines to get the best protection. You need to get the second dose 28 days (four full weeks) after the first dose.
Are these vaccines safe?
The HSE only uses vaccines when they meet the required standards of safety and effectiveness. While the work to develop these COVID-19 vaccines has moved much faster than usual, the vaccines they are offering you have gone through all the usual steps needed to develop and approve a safe and effective vaccine. In order to be approved for use, these COVID-19 vaccines went through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through, following international standards of safety. The vaccine being offered you is either called Comirnaty, manufactured by Pfizer / BioNTech. or COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna. manufactured by Moderna. They have:
• been tested with thousands of people as part of clinical trials.
• met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness, and been approved and licensed by regulators. For Ireland, the regulator is the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – visit http://www.ema.europa.eu for more information.
What are the side effects of these vaccines?
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild to moderate, short-term, and not everyone gets them.
More than one in 10 people may experience:
• feeling tired
• tenderness, swelling and/or redness in your arm where you have had the vaccine injection
• swollen lymph glands under the arm where they had the injection, with the Moderna vaccine
• muscle pain
• joint pain
• nausea or vomiting
• fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above)
More rarely, people develop itchiness where the vaccine was given, swelling of the lymph glands or sleeplessness, these side effects are seen in more than 1 in 1,000 people, with the Pfizer vaccine. Bell’s palsy is a rare side effect seen in more than 1 in 10,000 people. Rarely, people who have had facial fillers may develop swelling of their face, this is seen in more than 1 in 10,000 people with the Moderna vaccine.
Serious side effects to vaccines, like an allergic reaction, are extremely rare, seen in approximately 1 in a million people for all vaccines. Your vaccinator is trained to treat very rare serious allergic reactions. These vaccines have gone through the same clinical trials and safety checks as all other licensed vaccines, however these vaccines are new and long-term side effect information is limited.
As more people in Ireland and around the world get these vaccines, more information on side effects may become available. The HSE will update this information regularly on it's website, and if necessary, will update the information leaflets given to people at their first or second dose of the vaccine.
Fever after the vaccine
It’s quite common to develop a fever after a vaccination. Usually, this happens within two days (48 hours) of getting the vaccine, and it goes away within two days. You are more likely to get a fever after your second dose of the vaccine.
If you feel uncomfortable, take paracetamol or ibuprofen as directed on the box or leaflet. If you are concerned, please seek medical advice.
Can these COVID-19 vaccines give you COVID-19?
No. These COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you COVID-19. It is possible to have caught COVID-19 before getting your vaccine and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment.
If you have any common symptoms of COVID-19, it is important to self-isolate (stay in your room) and arrange a free test to find out if you have COVID-19.
If you have a fever which starts more than two days after you get a vaccine, or lasts longer than two days, you should self-isolate and ask your GP to arrange a COVID-19 test for you. If you have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. While you may get some protection from the first dose, having the second dose will give you the best protection against the virus.
Are there some people who should not get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. You should not get any COVID-19 vaccine if:
• you have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine (including polyethylene glycol (PEG)). Read the Patient Information Leaflet to see the list of ingredients.
• you have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.
If you have had an immediate allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy, you should talk to your doctor about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Most people will be able to safely get a vaccine. The person giving you a vaccine will be happy to answer any questions you have at your appointment for the vaccine.
They will also give you an aftercare advice leaflet, and a vaccine record card showing the name and batch number of the vaccine you have been given.
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have a high temperature?
No. You should delay getting the vaccine if you have a fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) and ring your GP and ask for a telephone consultation.
How long does it take the vaccine to work?
After having both doses of either one of these COVID-19 vaccines, most people will have immunity. This means they will be protected against COVID-19. It takes 7 days after getting the second dose for it to work, for the Pifzer vaccine and 14 days for the Moderna vaccine.
There is a small chance you might still get COVID-19, even if you have the vaccine.
Do these vaccines work in everyone?
These vaccines have been tested on people aged 16 and older for the Pfizer vaccine and 18 years and older for the Moderna vaccine. The current evidence is that the vaccine protects 95% of people who get it, with the Pfizer vaccine and 94% with the Moderna vaccine.
If you have a weakened immune system, there is no extra risk in taking a vaccine but it may not work as well for you.
How do I report side effects?
As with all vaccines, you can report suspected side effects to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The HPRA is the regulatory authority in the Republic of Ireland for medicines, medical devices and other health products. As part of its role in the safety monitoring of medicines, the HPRA operates a system through which health care professionals or members of the public can report any suspected adverse reactions (side effects) associated with medicines and vaccines which have occurred in Ireland. The HPRA strongly encourages reporting of suspected adverse reactions (side effects) associated with COVID-19 vaccines to support continuous monitoring of their safe and effective use. To report a suspected adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit www.hpra.ie/report. You can also ask your doctor or a family member to report this for you. As much information as is known should be provided, and where possible, the vaccine batch number should be included. The HPRA cannot provide clinical advice on individual cases. Members of the public should contact their healthcare professional (their doctor or pharmacist) with any medical concerns they may have.
How long does immunity last from these vaccines?
We do not know yet how long immunity will last. Clinical trials are ongoing to find this out.
When I get a vaccination, does that mean I won’t spread COVID-19 to others?
We do not know yet if having a vaccination stops you spreading the COVID-19 virus to others. That is why it is important that we all continue to follow public health advice on how to stop the spread of the virus.
In particular, you still need to:
• follow social distancing guidelines (keep two metres apart from others where possible)
• wear a face covering
• wash your hands regularly
The HSE, Department of Health and the World Health Organization recommends people get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is offered to them.
Thank you for protecting yourself and others.
Visit the HSE website at www.hse.ie/covid19vaccine, or call HSElive on 1850 24 1850.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, including materials in other formats and translation support, visit http://hse.ie/covid19vaccinematerials.
Your personal information
In order to administer the vaccine safely and to record all the necessary information to monitor and manage the vaccine, the HSE will be processing your personal information. All information processed by the HSE will be in accordance to the general laws and in particular the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force in 2018. The processing of your data will be lawful and fair. It will only be processed for the specific purpose to manage the vaccinations. The principle of Data Minimisation has been applied. This means that only data that is necessary to identify you, book your appointment, record your vaccination and monitor its effects is being recorded. You have the following rights as a data subject under the GDPR in respect of your personal data that are processed.
• Request information on and access to your personal data (commonly known as a ‘data subject access request’). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal data we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it.
• Request correction of the personal data that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate information we hold about you corrected.
• Request erasure of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal data where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal information where you have exercised your right to object to processing.
• Object to processing of your personal data.
More information is available at www.HSE.ie/eng/gdpr.