All you need to know about your Covid vaccine appointment

Doctor Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine, which is being rolled out at Constable Country Medical Practice.  

Doctor Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine, which is being rolled out at Constable Country Medical Practice. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

As more people in Suffolk prepare to get the coronavirus vaccine - what can you expect when you arrive for your appointment?

Six of the 14 primary care network (PCN) vaccine sites have delivered their first injections to customers today, with hundreds receiving their first dose of the jab at surgeries and community halls around the county. 

We visited the Constable Country Medical Practice in East Bergholt to see how the process works. 

When will you get the vaccine?

Those who are a priority for the Covid-19 vaccine, such as the over-80s, healthcare workers and care home staff, are being invited for their jabs by the surgeries. 

The NHS is reminding people NOT to call up the practices to try and book an appointment, as you will be contacted directly.

If you are young and have no pre-existing medical conditions then it is expected you'll be waiting until at least early summer or autumn.

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What happens when you arrive?

Each person is given a date and time for their appointment, and is asked to arrive wearing a mask. You are encouraged to come alone if possible, to reduce the numbers of people at the sites, but family members can assist where necessary. 

You should remain inside your vehicle to avoid long queues forming if you arrive early, but can join the line five minutes before your appointment time.

Vaccine administration at Constable Country Medical Practice.  

Vaccine administration at Constable Country Medical Practice. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

What happens inside?

When you get inside a member of staff will take your temperature to make sure you can go ahead with the vaccine. You will then be asked to sign in with the admin desk, before making your way to the medical professional who will deliver the vaccine. 

After you have had the jab you must follow the one-way system inside the vaccine site, which will then take you to a space where you will be monitored. 

You will be given a record card, which you will need for your second appointment. 

You are advised to follow social distancing rules throughout your time inside the premises.

How long do you need to wait after the injection?

Under the new guidance clinicians have been told that anyone receiving the vaccine needs to 'be monitored for 15 minutes after vaccination, with a longer observation period when indicated after clinical assessment'. 

At Constable Country Medical Practice a tent has been set up outside with heaters and seats inside - all of which are two-metres apart. Patients then have to wait until they are told by the member of staff that they are allowed to leave, once their 15-minutes is up. 

Audrey Web getting her Covid-19 vaccination in East Bergholt.

Audrey Web getting her Covid-19 vaccination in East Bergholt. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

What vaccines are being used?

A spokesman for Suffolk and north east Essex's clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) said most of the over-80s cohort will be given the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

Around a quarter of the vaccines which the CCGs receive will be the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, which will predominantly be given to residents and staff in care homes. 

Both vaccines give the same level of protection and require two doses.

Doctor Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine, which is being rolled out at Constable Country Medical Practice.  

Doctor Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine, which is being rolled out at Constable Country Medical Practice. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

What happens next and what should I do if I have side effects?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them.

Very common side effects include:

  • Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around one to two days after the vaccine
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • General aches, or mild flu like symptoms

Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for two to three days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have Covid-19 or another infection.

The government website states that an uncommon side effect is swelling of the glands. You can rest and take the normal dose of paracetamol (follow the advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better.

These symptoms normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call NHS 111. 

Attending your second appointment

You should be given a record card at your first appointment and your next appointment should be between three and 12 weeks later. It is important to have both doses of the same vaccine to give you the best protection.

All of the information above is based on the process at Constable Country Medical Practice in East Bergholt, but these stages may differ slightly at other sites. 

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