UK vaccines: How can you choose which vaccine you have?

Vaccine benefits ‘outweigh the risks’ says Dr Amir Khan

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The coronavirus vaccine programme in the UK has been widely viewed as a success, with all of the most vulnerable groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) now eligible for vaccination. By the end of July, the Government is aiming to have offered a first Covid vaccine dose to all adults in the UK.

Which vaccines are available?

At the moment, there are three Covid vaccines which have been approved for use in the UK.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved first by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), followed by the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Covid vaccine from US pharmaceutical company Moderna was also approved several months ago.

However, the first Moderna vaccine was only administered this week in Wales, with further supplies expected over the coming months.

While three vaccines have been approved, several other Covid vaccines are awaiting approval from the MHRA.

In total, the UK has ordered more than 400 millions doses of some of the most promising Covid vaccines.

The UK has secured 100 million doses of the Valneva Covid vaccine, as well as 60 million GlaxoSmithKline vaccines.

The UK has also ordered 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, as well as 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine.

Can you choose which vaccine you have?

In the UK, people cannot choose which Covid vaccine they receive.

The Covid vaccines being offered at vaccine centres are based on supply, so people will not know which Covid vaccine they are being offered until they turn up for their appointment.

In some circumstances, an individual may be advised to have a specific Covid vaccine for medical reasons.

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The MHRA has been reviewing reports of a very rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

People under the age of 30 without other health conditions are currently advised that it is preferable to receive an alternative vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

At a briefing on Wednesday, Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighs the risks for the “vast majority” of people after cases of blood clots were detected in an “extremely small” number of people.

Following Wednesday’s announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We will follow today’s updated advice, which should allow people of all ages to continue to have full confidence in vaccines, helping us save lives and cautiously return towards normality.”

People over the age of 30 will still be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK, among others which have been approved.

To date, most of the vaccines offered in the UK have been either Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca.

However, over the coming months, more doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be rolled out.

With the Covid vaccine programme expected to run for several more months, currently unapproved Covid vaccines could also be approved and rolled out to the population.

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