Volunteer with the Vaccination Programme

We’re looking for volunteers from a clinical background to support us with the COVID-19 Vaccine Programme across North Tyneside. If you’re interested in volunteering with TyneHealth please click the button below and fill out our volunteering form.

Vaccine Programme: Frequently Asked Questions

We understand lots of residents have questions or concerns about the vaccine itself, how the roll out programme is taking place and the practicalities of getting vaccinated. So we hope to have answered some of the main points that should help to alleviate any uncertainty or queries you might have.

GP Services During COVID-19

GP Practices have remained open during the whole of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are busier than ever. A range of ways to speak to your GP now exist, from e-consults via practice websites, to video or phone consultations or face to face appointments when needed. If you need to contact a GP, please do not go into the surgery in person.
You can:

Your GP surgery will then give you advice about what to do.

A phone or video call with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional may be booked for you.

You’ll only be asked to visit the surgery if absolutely necessary.

Your GP surgery may be very busy at the moment.  So you may have to wait longer than usual to speak to someone if it’s not urgent.

You can find contact information for all North Tyneside practices here.

COVID-19 Examination Hub

TyneHealth, working with our member practices, dedicated GPs and nurses, have set up a NEW COVID-19 Examination site in North Shields. TyneHealth’s rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis utilised existing Extended Access sites across North Tyneside to provide a place for safe assessment of suspected COVID-19 cases away from GP practice sites.

Our new site in North Shields is operational. The services is accessed by being referred by your GP practice.

  • Symptoms of COVID-19

    • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

    • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

    • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

  • Get a test and self-isolate if you have any of the symptoms
  • National Lockdown - Stay At Home

    The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a national lockdown across England until February 15th at the earliest.

    This means people must stay at home and only leave home for limited essential purposes such as getting food or medicine, accessing health care services or travelling to work; where you cannot work from home.

    The Prime Minister urged people to: Stay At Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.

  • Read the full details
  • NHS Coronavirus Information

    COVID-19 has been the single greatest public health emergency in the history of the NHS.

    It’s important we all do our bit to support our healthcare system and our own communities.

    For the latest up-to-date medical advice about Covid-19 and more please visit the NHS website.

  • Read the latest guidance

COVID-19 NHS Testing Sites (for People with Symptoms)

If you have COVID-19 symptoms you can get tested at either of North Tyneside’s two walk-through testing sites in North Shields and Wallsend, between 8am-8pm, 7 days a week including weekends.

Appointments must be booked in advance and can be made at the following website or by calling 119.

More information about these testing sites are available on the North Tyneside Council website here.

  • Parks Leisure Centre Overflow Car Park, North Shields
  • Coronation Street Car Park, Wallsend

COVID-19 PCR Testing and Certification (for People without Symptoms)

Through our partnership with KDI Medical, TyneHealth are able to offer a 15% discount on private COVID-19 testing kits and internationally approved certification for travel purposes.

This private testing service will help those who may need to travel abroad for work when national restrictions allow for this, as many countries now require a clean COVID-19 test and certification in order to enter through customs and immigration.

Testing kits need to be ordered online on KDI Medical’s website before collection at the Oxford Centre in Longbenton during normal opening hours. These kits are then posted back to KDI Medical and results are emailed within 48 hours with a pdf version certificate.

TyneHealth have been able to negotiate a 15% discount off these private testing kits when using the promo code TYNE15 – see further details below and by clicking here.

How can I get a COVID vaccine?

You should wait to be invited for a vaccine by your GP practice. Please do not phone or turn up at your GP practice, or a vaccination site, as you will not get a vaccine this way. The COVID vaccine is being rolled out to priority groups, starting in December 2020 and will continue for several months.

Who is being prioritised for the COVID vaccine?

At this time over 80 yearolds, care home residents and staffas well as frontline NHS and social care staff are being prioritised. This poster shows the priority groups agreed bythe government and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). 

I’ve already had COVID-19, do I need to get the vaccine?

Yes. If you’ve had the disease, you may have some level of immunity, but this varies and may not last long. Although there hasn’t yet been time to test how long protection from the vaccine will last for, it has been designed specifically to give reliable, lasting immunity.

The MHRA has considered the issue and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had COVID-19 as it is for those who haven’t. 

Can I go to a pharmacy to get a COVID vaccine?

No. At the moment you can only get a vaccine from a COVID vaccination site, approved by NHS England.

Can I pay privately for a COVID vaccine like I can to get a flu jab?

No. The COVID vaccine is not available to purchase privately.

How can I get a COVID vaccine for a relative?

Only people invited by their GP can get a vaccine, GPs will contact people when it is their turn.

What if I have any doubts or questions about getting the COVID vaccine?

When your GP surgery contact you to invite you for vaccination there will be plenty of opportunity for you to ask any questions and air any concerns or anxiety about getting the vaccine and what it means for you.

When you attend for vaccination the consent process across all sites gives further information and opportunity to ask any questions of health professionals, and trained volunteers, before you have the vaccine.

You can decline the vaccine at any point; no one will force you to have the COVID vaccine if you do not want it.

How can I get a vaccine for a family member / friend who is my carer?

Only people invited by their GP can get a vaccine, GPs will contact people when it is their turn.

I work in social care, how can I get a COVID vaccine?

You will be invited for a vaccine when one is available, according to JCVI and government agreed priority of need schedules. See below.

I’m a key worker but don’t work in the Health or Care sectors, how can I get a vaccine?

You will be invited for a vaccine when one is available, you can see more information about the priority groups below.

I am on the extremely vulnerable group list, can I get a vaccine?

You will be invited for a vaccine when one is available, you can see more information about the priority groups below.

Can I get the vaccine if I'm pregnant or breast feeding?

The MHRA has updated its guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine.

Pregnant women can discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks should they wish. Similarly, advice for women planning a pregnancy has also been updated and there is no need for women to delay pregnancy after having the vaccination.

Can I get the vaccine if I have a history of allergy?

People with history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccines should not be vaccinated.

People who have ever had a severe allergy (anaphylaxis) where the cause was not identified should not have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine but can have the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine.

How does the vaccine work?

Most of the potential vaccines are based on the fact that coronaviruses have club-shaped spikes on their outer coats, which form a corona – Latin for crown – on the virus surface. Studies suggest that the immune system is good at recognising these if it has encountered them before, and therefore these are a good approach for a vaccine. If a vaccine is able to produce a “spike” inside the body, the immune system recognises the “spike” and responds to it. That means that if the body encounters the COVID-19 virus in future, the immune system will recognise it and act against the virus so it cannot develop into an illness.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is an mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccine. Messenger RNA gives a body’s cells instructions to make specific proteins – in this case, viral proteins that can be recognised by the immune system.

This vaccine contains a small part of the genetic code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The vaccine delivers the mRNA to the body’s cells, so that they make the protein that appears in the “spike” on the outside of the Covid-19 virus. The immune system recognises the “spike” and responds to it. That means that if the body encounters the Covid-19 virus in future, the immune system will recognise it and act against the virus so it cannot develop into an illness.

The vaccine does not contain any live virus.

How many doses of the vaccine will need to be administered?

The vaccine is given in two doses a minimum of three weeks apart and up to twelve weeks apart. You must have both doses of the vaccine for full protection against COVID-19.

The length of time between 1st and 2nd doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was scheduled at 3 weeks in the initial rollout of this vaccine and according to Government, MHRA and NHS England recommendations based on trial data.

When the new Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine was approved on the 30/12/20, the JCVI recommendations for the 2nd dose interval was changed, with the recommendation that the 2nd dose could be given at a minimum of 3 weeks and up to 12 weeks after the 1st dose, to improve population coverage and prevent severe COVID-19 disease for the most number of people.

This decision means that rollout of the vaccine will be able to be accelerated to cover as many of at-risk members of the population as possible.

As we know more about these new JCVI recommendations we will update this FAQ section as more information is available. 

How quickly is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine effective after doses?

Maximal protection, according to trial data, should begin 7 – 10 days after the second injection.

However the protection given given against severe COVID-19 disease after only the 1st dose of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is very high.

This is why the JCVI recommendations have changed on dosing intervals, to have the biggest impact on preventing severe COVID-19 disease in the most at-risk groups and protecting hospitals and frontline NHS services from being overwhelmed.

However, it still may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of either of the Covid vaccines authorised for use in the UK.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but the symptoms should be less severe.

Does it work?

The data from clinical trials showed the vaccine is 94 percent effective in protecting people over the age of 65 from coronavirus, with trials suggesting it works equally well in people of all ages, races and ethnicities. There were also no serious safety concerns reported in the trials.

Is it safe?

There are extensive checks and balances required at every stage of the development of a vaccine, and this is no different for a COVID-19 vaccine.

No stages in the vaccine development process have been bypassed. All vaccines are tested through three phases of clinical trials to ensure they meet the gold standard of vaccine safety. These vaccines have been through phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials just like ordinary vaccines.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine clinical trial size was more than 44,000 people. These are very big studies.

Are there any side effects?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use.

For this vaccine, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell after having the vaccine (similar to how you might feel after getting the flu vaccine) but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the more than 44,000 people involved in the clinical trials.

All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to lookout for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA.

Any indications or reasons why a person should not receive this vaccine will be checked by your GP practice at invitation, and checked again when you are taken through the consent process for the vaccine.

You can report suspected side effects to COVID-19 vaccines through the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting portal https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/

Where do I need to go?

When your GP practice contacts you to invite you for a vaccine they will tell you which vaccine site you should go to and when.

Where are the vaccination sites?

As of the 23/12/20 there are three vaccination sites operating across North Tyneside. These sites are based in Longbenton, North Shields and Wallsend.

When you are invited for a vaccine you will be given all the details you need to locate and access the vaccination sites.

Can I go to my usual GP practice?

No. The roll out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is being delivered at a small number of local vaccination sites across North Tyneside. This is because the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored in a certain way and used quickly.

The rapid development of local vaccination service sites across the borough, led by GPs and primary care teams, also help us to continue to deliver our usual services in GP practices.

Your GP Practice will tell you where you need to go when they phone you to invite you for vaccination.

What do I need to bring with me?

Bring a mask if you can wear them and wear short sleeves so you can get a vaccine quickly. When you arrive for your appointment you will be asked to sanitise your hands. You will be given all of the papers you need by the reception team at the vaccination site.

Can a friend come with me?

One person can come with you if you cannot come on your own, but there may be limited space for them to sit, depending on the number of people who are attending at that particular site.

I need additional support, can my carer come with me?

Yes, you can bring a carer with you whilst you have the vaccine. Space at the vaccine sites is limited so please only bring multiple carers with you if you need them.

Do the vaccination sites have wheelchair / level access?

Yes, all the vaccine sites are accessible. There are volunteers and staff at each of the sites who can help you if needed. Please bring your wheelchair or other mobility aid with you if you need one as we only have a small number of spare mobility aids at each site.

What if I’m running late for my appointment?

Contact your practice if you are running over an hour late for your vaccine appointment. If your appointment is towards the end of a vaccine session then you are likely to have to re-arrange for a different day.

What if cannot make the appointment I’ve been given?

Call your GP Practice to rearrange the appointment.

How do I get my 2nd dose of the COVID vaccine?

The invitations to receive the 2nd dose of the COVID vaccine will be arranged when you attend for the first and/or followed up by your GP Practice. You do not need to contact your GP about this, they will make sure all those attending for their 1st dose know how to attend for their 2nd.

What if I cannot make the appointment I've been given for my second vaccine?

You must contact your GP practice to let them know so alternative arrangements for the 2nd dose can be made.

Will I be immune without getting the second vaccine?

The research shows that you need both doses of the COVID vaccine to be as fully protected as possible, for as long as possible.

However protection against severe COVID-19 disease is very high after only one dose of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines.

The recommended length of time between the 1st and 2nd dose changed to 12 weeks for both vaccines approved for use in the UK on 30/12/20.

The JCVI and public health teams recommendation was based on the high levels of circulating COVID-19, particularly the more transmissible strain of the virus that is now prevalent in our communities, as well as unprecedented pressure on NHS frontline services. The aim of this change was to get as great a population coverage with the 1st dose of either vaccine as quickly as possible, for the most at-risk and vulnerable groups.

The appointment for your 2nd dose of the vaccine will be made by the local vaccination service teams at the time of your 1st dose.

Any changes to these appointments are always considered at great length. Our aim is always to provide as seamless and smooth a service as possible, within this fast moving COVID-19 emergency situation and changing dosing recommendations at a national level.

We will continue to update these FAQ pages to reflect any further national recommendations or changing policy.

What do I do if I develop COVID symptoms before the vaccine is given, or have been in contact with someone with COVID symptoms?

You must self-isolate for 10 days and arrange for a Covid test as soon as possible.

Unfortunately you will not be able to receive the vaccine while you have Covid symptoms, or have been in contact with someone with Covid symptoms and are self-isolating.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms you can get tested at either of North Tyneside’s two walk-through testing sites in North Shields and Wallsend, between 8am-8pm, 7 days a week including weekends. Appointments must be booked in advance and can be made at the following website or by calling 119.

More information about these testing sites are available on the North Tyneside Council website here.

Parks Leisure Centre Overflow Car Park, North Shields
Coronation Street Car Park, Wallsend

Which vaccines have been approved in the UK?

Two vaccines have now been approved for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA)

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved in early December 2020 and hospital hubs began to vaccinate the top two JCVI prioritisation groups from 8th December 2020. Rollout of this vaccine to GP-led local vaccination services began on 14th December. Our Longbenton local vaccination service was one of the first in the country to deliver the vaccine to North Tyneside residents on 15th December 2020.

The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was approved on 30th December 2020 – the first doses were administered in hospital hubs on the 4th January 2021, and then distribution to our GP-led local vaccination services began on 7th January 2021 with rollout to care home residents and staff and housebound > 80 year olds being prioritised.

Who has this vaccine been approved for by the MHRA?

The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine has today (30/12/20) been approved for use for people 18 years or older and consists of two doses, with the 2nd dose administered 4 12 weeks after the 1st dose.

The JCVI priority groups will be the same as for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine rollout to date (see ‘Who can get a vaccine’)

What is the main difference with this vaccine compared to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine?

The recommended interval of 4 – 12 weeks before the 2nd dose of this vaccine was wider than the initial MHRA recommended 3 weeks for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. However the JCVI has now recommended that both vaccines are given 12 weeks apart in the majority of cases to increase population coverage to as many at-risk vulnerable groups as possible.

One big difference between vaccines are the transportation and storage requirements; for the Oxford University/ AstraZeneca vaccine this only needs to be kept at temperatures of 2C to 8C, which is similar to a conventional fridge, for up to six months.

This ease of storage, transportation and delivery of this vaccine means it can be administered more easily within existing healthcare settings, as well as within care homes and at home for the housebound.

Delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was made to North Tyneside on 7th January 2021 and our care home frailty nurses working in partnership with district nursing teams and GPs have been able to rapidly increase the rollout of this vaccine to North Tyneside Care Homes and housebound > 80 year olds from this date.

How does the vaccine work?

Most of the potential vaccines are based on the fact that coronaviruses have club-shaped spikes on their outer coats, which form a corona – Latin for crown – on the virus surface. Studies suggest that the immune system is good at recognising these if it has encountered them before, and therefore these are a good approach for a vaccine. If a vaccine is able to produce a “spike” inside the body, the immune system recognises the “spike” and responds to it. That means that if the body encounters the COVID-19 virus in future, the immune system will recognise it and act against the virus so it cannot develop into an illness.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contains the genetic sequence of this surface spike protein, so like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, when the vaccine enters cells inside the body, it uses this genetic code to produce the surface spike protein of the coronavirus.

The difference is that instead of mRNA, the Oxford vaccine uses a harmless, weakened adenovirus (a different virus that also has the ‘spike’ protein on its surface). It has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to cause an illness.

Is the vaccine safe?

Oxford University/AstraZeneca has been submitting data to the MHRA since September 2020 under the rolling review process, enabling data to be reviewed in stages, as it became available.

As with any vaccine or medicine, COVID-19 vaccines require continuous safety monitoring by the MHRA and that the benefits in protecting people against COVID-19 must be greater than any side-effect or potential risks.

As more data is released about this vaccine we will update further, and more information is available here.

Which members of the public are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the moment?

The NHS is currently in the process of offering the vaccine to people aged 80 and over, those who live or work in care home for older adults, and frontline health and social care staff.

When everyone in these groups has had the chance to get their first dose of the vaccine the programme will expand to other people that are at risk either due to their age group or medical condition in line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) below.

 

What are the different ways members of the public might be contacted to get their vaccination?

  • Local hospital services – you might be contacted either to have the vaccine as an inpatient or at an outpatient appointment at any of our regional hospitals, including North Tyneside General Hospital locally.
  • Local GP services – the GP practices in North Tyneside are working together to contact and offer the vaccine to as many people as possible through three local vaccination services, set up to deliver vaccines across the borough in Longbenton, North Shields (covering Whitley Bay residents as well as North Shields) and Wallsend.
  • Through your care home – GPs and Primary Care community teams are also vaccinating residents in care homes for older adults and their carers.
  • A letter from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service – to book online or by phone. Booking through this service will give you the option of having the vaccine at a nationally run Mass Vaccination Centre (currently only The Centre for Life in Newcastle), or a community pharmacy, when and where these are available locally.

I’ve already had my first jab, how do I get my second?

If you have had your first jab already through a hospital or local GP-led services, our local NHS teams will contact you about getting your second.

If you have received a letter from the national booking service and you have already had your first dose of the vaccination, please ignore the letter. This service will require you to book appointments for both doses of the vaccination at the same time.

I’ve contacted the national booking service but I can’t travel to one of the locations that are available, what should I do?

More national Mass Vaccination Centre locations will become available in the coming weeks so you could try again later.

Alternatively, you can choose to wait until your local GP service invites you for the vaccine in North Tyneside; we are making good progress through priority at-risk groups.

If you are housebound and unable to leave the house to travel to any appointment, and cannot arrange for someone to help you, our local GP-led vaccination service will be in contact with you.

I have received a letter but I have already booked or attended an appointment at a local GP service. What should I do?

If you already have a vaccination booked through your GP please ignore the letter – there is nothing you need to do.

I have the letter but don’t understand how I book my appointment?

If you have received a letter from the national booking centre inviting you to book your Covid-19 vaccination you can do this online or on the phone using the details on the first page of the letter.

You will need your name, date of birth and NHS number to book.

At the time of booking you will be asked to book your first vaccination and your follow up vaccination for 11 to 12 weeks’ time.

I have received a letter about booking my appointment. Can I contact my GP to do this?

No, please do not contact your GP surgery. We cannot help you to book into any of the nationally run Vaccination Centres.

Please use the details in the letter to book your appointment directly.

I have received invites to get vaccinated from both a local GP-led service and the national system, but haven’t booked with either yet. Can I choose where to go?

Yes.

Will people who have already had their vaccination through a hospital, GP or care home, still receive a letter to book through nhs.uk or by ringing 119?

This may happen in a small number of cases.  If people have had their first vaccination through a hospital or GP service, of if they are in a care home, this information will flow through to the national NHS system.

If this is recorded on the national system before the national booking letter is printed then it will flag not to send that person the national booking letter. There are likely to be cases where the letter is printed to be sent and then person subsequently has their vaccination recorded and therefore is sent the national booking letter.

The booking letter explains this and says that if people have already had their first dose to not book through nhs.uk or 119.

My neighbours / friends have received a letter from the national vaccination centre to book their jab. Why haven’t I received mine?

The NHS is inviting people for vaccinations based on expert advice on who would benefit most. This has been set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

At the moment we are focusing on people aged 80 and over, people who live or work in care homes, and health and social care staff. If you are in one of these groups you will be invited to book your vaccine soon.

A vaccination programme of this size and scale will still take some time to roll out in full. Please be assured that everyone who needs the vaccine will be offered it.

The NHS will be in touch with you when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Please don’t call us before you are invited.

What will the opening hours of national mass vaccination centres be?

Standard opening times for vaccination centres will be 8am –8pm, seven days a week.

What are the operating hours of the telephone booking system?

The telephone booking service will be open 16 hours a day (from 7am until 11pm), seven days a week. People will also be able to book online 24/7.

What if I can’t get to the Vaccination Centre?

People who are housebound will be contacted by their GP services about alternative ways to get vaccinated.

People can also wait until more vaccination centre locations closer to where they live become available, but we are already operating three locally run GP-led sites in Longbenton, North Shields and Wallsend across the North Tyneside borough.

The NHS will follow up with people that haven’t booked their appointment, as a reminder.

What staff and volunteers will be working in Vaccination Centres?

The centres will be staffed by vaccinators and clinical supervisors, as well as administrative staff and stewards to ensure the effective and safe operation of the service.

These will largely be new and existing paid NHS staff, but volunteers – including from St John Ambulance or the NHS Volunteer Responder programme – will also play an important role.

I’ve received a letter but someone I live who is the same age hasn’t yet. Can we get vaccinated together?

The NHS is inviting eligible people in a phased basis as supplies of the vaccine allow.

It is important that you wait for your letter from the NHS, and you will not be able to book without one.

Are Vaccination Centres safe?

Yes. Staff at these sites will wear appropriate PPE and there will be social distancing and cleaning measures in place to keep everyone safe.

This is exactly the same at all of our North Tyneside local vaccination services.