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Vaccines for COVID-19

Updated 14 September 2021

Vaccines in use in the United Kingdom

The first vaccine to help protect us from COVID-19 was approved on 02 December 2020. Some people with PSC have been prioritised to receive the vaccine early.

Pharmaceutical companies have been running clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy (effectiveness) of COVID-19 vaccine across the world. They have been able to gather the necessary data in record time by adopting special trial designs.

Next, the body that regulates medicines, the MHRA, reviews information from these trials to decide if they are safe and effective enough to be used. The MHRA evaluates the data rigorously for quality, safety and effectiveness to reach an independent, scientifically robust opinion. The data must include results from lab and clinical trials in humans; manufacturing and quality controls, product sampling, and testing of the final product.

The MHRA is globally recognised for requiring the highest standards of safety, quality and effectiveness for any vaccine.

For an excellent guide to vaccinations for COVID-19, check out the British Society for Immunology (BSI). The BSI share regular Q&As, downloads and vaccine updates.

OCTAVE and OCTAVE DUO Trials

COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to work well in protecting against COVID-19 infection, although studies have mainly been in people without significant health problems. The OCTAVE trial is investigating whether people with health problems or treatments that affect their immune system are also protected by COVID-19 vaccines.

The OCTAVE-DUO trial goes a step further and aims to find out whether a third primary dose of the vaccine for COVID-19 can help generate a better immune response in immune compromised patients with chronic health conditions or cancer.

National Guidance

01 April 2021: The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems. See 'Will households be vaccinated?' below.

01 April 2021 - The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the government to prioritise people for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine who are over 16 and living with adults who have weakened immune systems. See 'Will households be vaccinated?' below.

01 September 2021 - The JCVI is advising that people with severely weakened immune systems should have a third vaccine dose as part of their primary COVID-19 vaccination schedule.

13 September 2021 - The UK's chief medical officers have recommended a single Pfizer dose for all young people aged 12 to 15 years.

14 September 2021 - The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is advising that booster vaccines be offered to those more at risk from serious COVID.

Priority Groups and PSC

Updated 30 May 2021

Position Statements and Information

Guidance from professional societies about having the vaccine.

Update history

04 March 2021 - added video link about vaccines and the immune system

18 March 2021 - highlighted fact that people on transplant waiting list should have both doses closer together than general population programme.

18 March 2021 - AstraZeneca update.

01 April 2021 - prioritising vaccination: households to be vaccinated.

07 April 2021 - updated COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca advice from MHRA

30 May 2021 - updated links and added information about the Janssen vaccine.

30 June 2021 - updated advice for people who have had a transplant or who are on the waiting list.

14 September 2021 - update on 1) third doses 2) booster vaccines 3) vaccines for young people. Update on OCTAVE and OCTAVE DUO trials.

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