How do we know the Covid-19 vaccine is safe? - Most commonly asked questions about the vaccine answered

The NHS have launched its biggest ever vaccine campaign on Tuesday following the approval of Pfizer and BioNTech – but is it safe?

On Tuesday, December 8 the Covid-19 vaccine was rolled out across the UK with 91-year-old Margaret Keenan becoming the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer jab.

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised all those involved in delivering the new vaccine programme – but how safe is the new vaccine?

Who approves vaccines?

The UK is the first country in the world to have a “clinically authorised vaccine” to roll out. Photo: PA.

A vaccine will only be approved for the UK if government regulator, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), deems the vaccine is effective and safe.

The head of the UK’s medicines regulator has said there “should be no doubt” about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which approved the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, said there should be “real confidence” in the rigour of their approval.

Has the vaccine been trialled?

Around 40,000 people were involved in the vaccine trials, with half receiving the vaccine and half receiving a placebo.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) states in its guidance that the new vaccine “appears to be safe and well-tolerated, and there were no clinically concerning safety observations”.

A volunteer on the Pfizer vaccine trial believes it has already prevented her from getting Covid and said she felt “relief” at knowing it was safe and working well.

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How does the Covid-19 vaccine work?

The vaccine triggers the body’s natural production of antibodies and stimulates immune cells to protect against Covid-19 disease.

The Covid-19 vaccine is used for active immunisation to prevent the disease.

Dr June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), insisted “no corners were cut” in the approval process, but monitoring will continue as the jab from Pfizer and BioNTech is rolled out.

Are there any side effects?

Like many vaccines there are sometimes temporary mild symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and muscle pain.

The MHRA says it hasn't identified any "serious adverse reactions" during the trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Is the vaccine safe for someone who has already had Covid?

Even if you’ve had Covid-19 you will be offered the jab.

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