See below for our questions and answers for the Coronavirus vaccines.
Who gets a vaccine and when?
At the moment, Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out in the UK in stages, according to the priority groupings defined by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation).
Everyone who gets a vaccine will have two doses, about 12 weeks apart. Vaccinations are happening at centres across the country, in hospitals, pharmacies, GPs and vaccination centres. More will open over time.
How do I get a vaccine?
Most people will be contacted by the NHS when it’s your turn to get the vaccine. You don’t need to contact them or do anything.
There is an online appointment booking service available for people in England who meet any of the following criteria:
If you are in one of these groups, you can access the service here.
Don’t use the service if you are not eligible yet.
People who are at moderate risk can’t use the appointment service and should wait to be contacted by the NHS.
How can I help with the vaccine rollout?
It’s great that you want to help with the vaccine roll out. You can help by registering as an NHS volunteer responder.
You can also volunteer through St John Ambulance.
The TUC and the Labour party have been encouraging volunteers to help out. They recommend that you volunteer through the NHS volunteer campaign.
There are also other things you can do to help including:
Should I get a Covid vaccine?
We would encourage people to follow the medical advice and get vaccinated when called up.
Having the vaccine means you are much less likely to become ill from COVID-19, which can cause serious illness and death. It can also benefit those around you, making the spread of the virus less likely and reducing the potential for the virus to mutate into new variants.
It is up to you whether you get vaccinated.
Can I get a vaccine if I am pregnant?
There’s no known risk of giving the Covid vaccine to pregnant women. However, no testing of the vaccines has been done specifically on women who are pregnant, so more evidence is needed.
Therefore, most women won’t be offered the vaccine whilst they are pregnant.
The exception will be if there is a high risk of you being exposed to Covid (because of where you work) or if you have another health condition that puts you at high risk of getting seriously ill if you got Covid. In these circumstances, you’ll discuss with a medical professional and decide whether to get a vaccine.
You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.
Can I get a vaccine if I am breastfeeding?
You can get the vaccine if you are breastfeeding, and breastfeeding women will be offered the vaccine.
A medical professional will discuss the benefits and risks with you. It will then then be up to you to decide whether to get the vaccine.
Can I be forced to get vaccinated?
No. Nobody can force anyone to have a vaccine. However, you should be aware that there could be some consequences if you refuse, including at work.
Can my employer exclude me from work because I am not vaccinated?
Yes they can. You may have the right to get paid whilst you are excluded if you are fit and able to work. However this argument has not yet been tested by the Courts or Tribunals.
Can my employer give me different duties because I’m not vaccinated?
Yes. Some employers are already doing this, by assigning those who have already been vaccinated to certain tasks or clients whilst the rollout takes place.
Some employers might ask those who are not vaccinated to work from home, and this is within their rights.
Can my employer dismiss me because I am not vaccinated?
If you have less than two years’ service then you cannot claim unfair dismissal if you are sacked, so in these circumstances you wouldn’t be able to make a legal claim.
If you have been employed for more than two years then you may be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. However, this has not been tested in the Employment Tribunal yet. It could take up to a year to get an unfair dismissal claim heard.
How likely you are to succeed might be depend on where you work. For example, if you work in a front line health or social care role, your employer might argue that it is essential that get the vaccine so you don’t pass the infection on, or that you could not be redeployed.
Dismissal could be found to be an infringement of your rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to respect for private and family life.
It could also be unfair if you have reasonable grounds for not being vaccinated.
Remember though, we haven’t yet seen cases like this in the Courts and Tribunal, so no precedent has been set.
Can companies insist that I have a Covid vaccine before hiring me?
We are hearing about companies looking to introduce “no jab no job” clauses into contracts.
It’s unlikely any existing contracts will include such terms. However, for new contracts, employers may try to include being vaccinated as a condition of employment. At the moment, we think this is legal.
There should be exceptions for people who have medical reasons why they cannot have the vaccine.
There’s a medical reason why I can’t have a vaccine- can my employer dismiss me?
If you can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons, then your employer should take this into account. If they don’t this is could be indirect disability discrimination, and you may be able to bring a claim.
I have questions about the coronavirus vaccine- where can I go?
We know that there are a lot of rumours about the Coronavirus vaccine going around and people may have worries or just want to ask questions.
We recommend the University of Oxford’s Vaccine knowledge project, which has answers to a lot of freqently asked questions about vaccines. You can find information about COVID-19 vaccines here, and an FAQ here.
Some employers have invited epidemiologists, experts in the spread and control of diseases, to come to talk to employees and answer their questions. Find out if your employer is considering doing this.
I’ve heard about vaccine scams?
Remember, the vaccine is free from the NHS. You do not have to pay for it. The NHS will not ask for your bank account details or pincodes. They will not ask for copies of personal documents to prove your identity (such as passports, driving licences or bills). If you are asked for these it is a scam.
What can I do if I need support?
If you are a Community member and need advice about a problem at work, contact your local branch secretary or the service centre for advice. The service centre can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.