Your COVID-19 Vaccine Questions, Answered By Scientist, Dr Anna Blakney

Note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publishing.
Millions of people across the UK have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. It’s a vital step towards ending the pandemic and getting us all back to some kind of normality, but understandably there have been a lot of questions.
Following our Instagram Story call-out, we put your questions around the roll-out, side effects, allergies and more to Dr Anna Blakney from Team Halo – a social media community of scientists working to get us safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
 
There are currently several vaccines approved for use by the NHS in the UK.
As Dr Anna explains, vaccines work by "tricking your body into thinking it has an infection, without actually getting infected, so that it builds up an immunity." With the current COVID-19 vaccines, "we start seeing antibodies two weeks after the first of two doses."
The Chief Medical Officers of the UK advise that this first dose offers a high level of protection from COVID-19. But until we have more information about how the vaccine prevents infection, and whether it stops you passing the virus on to others, we still need to continue with healthy behaviours like hand hygiene, wearing a face mask and remaining socially distant.
While these vaccines have been developed at an exceptional pace, Dr Anna says this has been down to the ‘all hands on deck’ approach, not because corners have been cut.
"This is a really unprecedented time. Never before in history have we had all these scientists, clinicians, funders and regulators all working on a single disease. Typically, you might have to wait months for funding approval, but the money for COVID-19 vaccines has been free flowing, so we were able to get moving much quicker than we normally would," she says.
Despite that speed, Dr Anna adds, each vaccine still had to go through the same rigorous process of testing, clinical trials and regulatory review as any other vaccine or medicine. This includes meeting the safety standards of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – the regulatory body in the UK).
 
To find more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the NHS website.

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