We know the vaccine is safe because it has been through extensive safety trials and was approved by the independent medicine’s regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Each one has to meet globally recognised standards of effectiveness, safety and quality before it is approved. This is the same rigorous testing process as all other medicines, drugs and vaccines used in this country.
How they made and tested the vaccine
Scientists have been studying coronaviruses for many years, so they didn’t start from scratch. Additionally, lots of people from around the world came together to support this work. Clinical trials could be completed quickly due to large financial support from governments and because a lot of people were recruited to help in a short space of time.
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short term lasting no longer than a week, and not everyone gets them. Common side
effects include a sore arm, feeling a bit achy and a headache – all of which go away quickly. However, the benefits of protecting yourself from COVID-19 far outweigh any risks involved with developing side effects.
There is no evidence that people from Black, Asian or other ethnic communities are more likely to get side effects. However, residents in these communities are at a higher risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, which is why it’s so important to protect yourself from the virus by considering having the vaccine when it’s your turn.
The UK independent medicines regulator the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) has reiterated that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine remains safe and effective following their recent review of UK reports of ‘extremely rare and unlikely to occur’ blood clots in a very small number of people who’ve had that vaccine. The risk is very low and no greater than the risk of developing a blood clot on a long-haul flight.
Everyone is encouraged to continue to get the vaccine when they are eligible unless specifically advised otherwise because it gives the best protection against coronavirus and has already saved thousands of lives. However, a small number of people who are at a higher risk of specific types of blood clots due to an existing medical condition should tell their vaccinator before having the vaccine.
While the MHRA review found evidence of a link with the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine, more work is needed so they are continuing to carry out research. These cases are very rare but the MHRA has issued updated guidance for healthcare professionals and advice for the public.
- For more information, go to gov.uk/government/news/mhra-issues-new-advice-concluding-a-possible-link-between-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-and-extremely-rare-unlikely-to-occur-blood-clots.
- Patient advice is available at gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca/information-for-uk-recipients-on-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca#package-leaflet-information-for-the-recipient
- An information leaflet on covid-19 vaccination and blood clotting is available at gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-and-blood-clotting
Making sure vaccine information is from a trusted source
If you receive information through your door or read anything online or via chat groups, please always consider whether it’s from a trusted source before you read or share it. If you’re not sure, fact-check the information from trusted sources first – including the NHS, British Islamic Medical Association, Camden Council or the Government.