Vaccination Questions and Answers

Covid-19 Shielding - Scottish Government Q&A

UPDATED – 10 February 2021

Vaccinations for people on the shielding list

Vaccine invitations have been issued this week to groups 4 and 5.  Group 4 includes clinically extremely vulnerable people, or in other words, everyone on the shielding list who has not already received the vaccine at groups 1-3.  The current expectation is that everyone in group 4 should have received the first dose of the vaccine by mid-February. The second dose of the vaccine will be given up to 12 weeks later. This is to ensure that we are protecting the maximum number of people possible.

Making alternative arrangements for vaccination

The Scottish Government has emphasised to all Health Board Chief Executives the importance of resourcing the Covid-19 vaccination service, including ensuring people contacting them for an appointment are offered alternative options for those who are clinically vulnerable and housebound.

The invitation says “If you are shielding or housebound, please call 0800 030 8013 for information on how to arrange your appointment”.  This means that for people on the shielding list who are housebound or unable to leave their home, or would prefer not to visit a vaccination centre and make alternative arrangements, there are other ways to get their coronavirus vaccination including at their home.  The 0800 030 8013 COVID-19 Vaccinations Helpline is open every day between 8am and 8pm and will put callers through to National Services Scotland to arrange this.

Getting to vaccination appointments

People on the shielding list were advised by the Chief Medical Officer in his letter of 5 June, and in any new additions letters, not to use public transport including taxis in level 4 or lockdown areas

For those who do not have their own transport or support with transport, local health boards or local authorities have made local arrangements and we are advising that people contact the local number for support to arrange transport to get to their vaccination appointment.  Local contact numbers are listed in the table at the end of this Q&A.

Our general advice for people on the shielding list is to avoid public transport including taxis while the area where you live is in lockdown, unless this is arranged for you through the helpline in order to get to your vaccination.

However, to keep access to information and support streamlined in relation to any initial enquiries about vaccination appointments, we are advising those on the shielding list that if they want to discuss alternative arrangements, or, don’t have their own transport or support with transport and need help getting to their vaccination appointment, they should phone the Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open daily, 8 am – 8 pm).

In relation to transport enquiries, the Vaccination Helpline will then advise them to contact an agreed local contact number provided by local health boards or local authorities which is listed in a table annexed to this Q&A.

The Shielding SMS text messaging service will send a text message to advise them about the National Vaccine Helpline for any enquiries.

Providing support with transport

Any local transport arrangements will need mitigations to help lower any risks of transmission for both the drivers and the people they are providing transport for.  Where it is necessary to drive someone to their appointment, we advise:

  • Using a car or vehicle that is as large as possible, preferably a minibus or vehicle that allows 2m physical distancing, or a car with a bulkhead or partition
  • Occupants should sit as far apart as possible, ideally the passenger should sit diagonally opposite the driver.
  • Windows in the car must be opened as far as possible taking account of weather conditions to maximise the ventilation in the space.
  • Occupants in the car, including the driver, should wear a facemask
  • Occupants should perform hand hygiene using an alcohol based hand rub before entering the vehicle and again on leaving the vehicle.
  • Wiping down and cleaning the vehicle
  • Making sure vehicles are equipped with hand gel, waste disposal bags, and suitable products with which to wipe down and clean the vehicle
  • Occupants should avoid eating in the vehicle
  • Keep the volume of any music/radio being played to a minimum/ off to prevent the need to raise voices in the car

Picking up the person

People should be offered transport on the basis that they are able to get in and out of the vehicle unaided or with a family member or carer from the same household, apart from assistance which can provided by the driver whilst maintaining physical distancing such as fitting ramps to enable wheelchair access.  Otherwise no direct assistance should be provided by the driver to the person.

If more direct assistance is needed, a home appointment may be more suitable to the person's needs.

There may be a range of reasons for requesting a home vaccination where someone on the shielding list:

  • is housebound or unable to leave their own home
  • would prefer not to visit a vaccination centre
  • face challenges in using the recommended travel options  

After dropping off the person

The vehicle’s passenger compartment, handles, seat belts and touch points will require cleaning using detergent cleaning products between each journey, ensuring thorough wipe down of all exposed surfaces and contact areas with detergent or specialist cleaning products, such as disinfectant wipes or similar, with disposal bags.

Using a taxi company

Use a taxi fleet that has suitable arrangements in place re cleaning/sanitising after each journey as well as any other necessary adaptations e.g. cough guards, sanitising units for their fleet ( a device that is activated in the vehicle), cleaning and waiting between passengers.

National Assistance Helpline Q&A

10 February 2021

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines have been created to help protect people against falling seriously ill or dying from coronavirus. The vaccines work by building up your immunity to the virus, so that if you contract the virus your body will be able fight it off more easily if it affects you.

Are the vaccines safe?

Yes. The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Each vaccine goes through a rigorous and independent three-phase testing process long before it can be licensed as safe and effective for use.

During a pandemic, the timeframes can be compressed, but never at the expense of safety. This will be the case for all other COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK.

The MHRA keep the safety of all vaccines under close and continual review, and would take appropriate regulatory action if new evidence emerged which called into question the safety of any vaccines currently in use in.

Further information on the JCVI priority list can be found here.

Should I contact my GP to arrange my vaccine?

No. You will be contacted by your local NHS health board or GP to arrange an appointment as soon as is possible and in line with vaccine supply.  We ask people for their patience and to take up their appointment when they are called.

I’m concerned about going to get the vaccine in case I catch coronavirus. What should I do?

During your vaccination, strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place. This means that every precaution has been taken to ensure that you will not contract coronavirus whilst attending your appointment.

However, if you are very concerned about going to a vaccination site, you can call the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccinations Helpline on 0800 030 8013. This is run by the NHS and they will be able to talk you through the options, including the possibility of getting the vaccination at home.  If you are housebound or unable to leave your own home you can receive the vaccination at home.  The helpline is open from 8am to 8pm every day.

I have been invited to go and get my vaccination, but I don’t have transport to get there. What should I do?

The advice is that you shouldn’t use public transport, so if you don’t have a way of getting to the vaccination site, we can help arrange a way to get you there.  Each local area will have its own local arrangements in place to help transport people to their vaccination.

If people go through the Vaccination Helpline, they will be directed to the local contact for transport support listed in the table at the end of this Q&A.  This is with the exception of anyone in the City of Edinburgh Council, in which case the vaccination helpline will be asked to forward details to the email contact in the table.

Once I have the first dose of the vaccine, will I be able to stop shielding?

Our current guidance is that once you have received the first dose of the vaccine you should continue to follow the shielding advice.

We will let you know if this advice changes as we learn more about the impact of the vaccination.

To find out more about these measures, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding advice and support - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).

I am immunocompromised, can I still have the vaccine?

You can still receive the coronavirus vaccine if you are immunocompromised or if you have disorders of the immune system. The effectiveness and immune response is being monitored throughout the rollout of the vaccine.

I don’t want to get the vaccine. Do I have to?

No, but we recommend that everyone should get the vaccine unless there is specific risk, such as women who are pregnant or people who are allergic to the ingredients within the vaccines. It is especially important to get that vaccines if you are on the shielding list, this is because you are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus.

If you have any concerns about receiving the vaccine you can call the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open daily, 8am to 8pm) or visit www.nhsinform.scot/covid19vaccine.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

In some cases people may experience side effects after receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Most side effects are mild and may include:

  • tenderness, swelling and/or redness at the injection site
  • headache
  • muscle ache
  • feeling tired
  • fever/ high temperature (37.8°C or greater)

A less common side effect is swelling of the glands which could start a few days after the vaccine and may last for up to 2 weeks.  This is to be expected and is a sign of the immune system responding to the vaccine.

Has the vaccine been tested on people with [my condition]?

Although, the vaccines have been through rigorous testing and large scale trials, these may not have included people with your condition. However, the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the vaccines for use based on all the data they currently hold. This means that the vaccines have reached the required standards of safety and effectiveness.

If you are worried about receiving the vaccine you can visit www.nhsinform.scot/covid19vaccine or call the Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (open daily, 8am to 8pm).

Can I have the vaccine if I am pregnant?

There's no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can be routinely offered the vaccine.

The JCVI has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you're pregnant and:

  • at high risk of getting coronavirus because of where you work
  • have a health condition that means you're at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus

You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you're breastfeeding.

Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine with you.

Further information about the vaccination programme if you are pregnant or breastfeeding can be accessed here COVID-19 vaccination pregnancy advice (healthscotland.com).

Can I have the vaccine if I have severe allergies?

You should not get the coronavirus vaccine if you have ever had a severe anaphylactic reaction to any ingredients in the vaccine or a previous dose of the vaccine.

This will only affect a small number of people, but you will be able to ask any questions when you attend your vaccine appointment.

If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. The people giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

I am not currently on the shielding list, but I think I should be

If you think you are at higher risk of coronavirus due to an underlying health condition then you can speak to your clinician or health care professional about being added to the list. People aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions will be offered the vaccine as part of group 6.

Where can I find further information about the coronavirus vaccine?

If you want to find out more information on the coronavirus vaccine, you can visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine | NHS inform.

LA Vaccination Appointment Transport Solutions Contact list (V1.1 at 16:50 10th  Feb)

Council

Transport Solutions Contact number

Aberdeen City

Transport to Healthcare Information Centre (THInC)  01467 536 111

Aberdeenshire

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

Angus

ACCESSLine 03452 777 778

Argyll and Bute

Led by patient GP

Clackmannanshire

NHS Forth Valley Immunisation Hub (0800 130 3120 (Monday – Friday 8.30am - 8.00pm)

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

Dumfries and Galloway

Led by patient GP

Dundee City

will be offered if required by the person booking your appointment

East Ayrshire

Led by patient GP

East Dunbartonshire

Led by patient GP

East Lothian

Led by patient GP

East Renfrewshire

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

City of Edinburgh

loth.covidvaccenquiries@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk

Falkirk

NHS Forth Valley Immunisation Hub (0800 130 3120 (Monday – Friday 8.30am - 8.00pm)

Fife

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

Glasgow City

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

Highland

Led by patient GP

Inverclyde

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)Sat/Sunday 9-4pm

Midlothian

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

Moray

Transport to Healthcare Information Centre (THInC)  01467 536 111

North Ayrshire

Led by patient GP

North Lanarkshire

NHS Lanarkshire Local Vaccination Helpline (Details with Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline)

Orkney Islands

0300 303 5313

Perth & Kinross

will be offered if required by the person booking your appointment

Renfrewshire

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

Scottish Borders

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)


Shetland Islands

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

South Ayrshire

Led by patient GP

South Lanarkshire

NHS Lanarkshire Local Vaccination Helpline (Details with Scottish COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline)

Stirling

NHS Forth Valley Immunisation Hub (0800 130 3120 (Monday – Friday 8.30am - 8.00pm)

West Dunbartonshire

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

West Lothian

National Assistance Helpline - 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours)

Document controlled by Scottish Governent Contact Zarah Kobbacy 07557 077282