Covid vaccine questions answered – from when you can hug again to delaying 2nd dose

CORONAVIRUS vaccines are being rolled out across the country in a bid to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Over 5.5 million people across the UK have now received their first dose of the jab – bringing them a step closer to some sort of normality.

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The vaccine programme is being rolled out across the country in mass vaccination sites, GP surgeries and pharmacies.

But what does having both doses of the jab actually mean and how will it change the lives of those who have had them?

Experts have revealed the does and don'ts for people who have had the vaccine.

Why should I have the jab?

Sun columnist Dr Zoe Williams says that everyone who is offered the jab should take it.

She said: "I find that for most of those in a high-risk group, it’s a no-brainer. Those who will not be eligible for months are ­sometimes more reserved, but by the time their opportunity comes along, I expect they will feel more confident.

"This virus is impacting the health of all of us because it’s ­dangerous in two ways – it’s potentially deadly if you get it, but living through a pandemic is also ruining our lives.

"The World Health Organisation has estimated that, in order to achieve herd immunity, between 60 and 70 per cent of ­people need to be vaccinated.

"Each person vaccinated is a step closer to that goal. This roll-out will make a huge difference. It is our way out of this and a big reason we can all hope 2021 will be brighter."

Can I still infect people if I have a vaccine?

A) Scientists are still not sure about this. The jabs are designed to make sure our immune systems can fight the virus once we catch it. They should stop 90 per cent plus of us developing serious symptoms.

But a problem with Covid-19 is that people are infectious even if they show no symptoms such as a fever or cough. So a person could pass on the virus after vaccination.

Only after many more people have had the jabs will we know whether or not they are “transmission-blocking”.

If my grandparents/elderly relatives have had their jabs can we visit them once restrictions have eased?

The country is still living under a third national lockdown and all household gatherings are banned in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling said you will be able to visit your grandparents once restrictions are lifted – but noted that you will still have to take precautions.

Speaking to The Mirror he said: "Vaccines aren’t 100 per cent effective, so if somebody who is in the vulnerable category has had their jab it massively reduces their likelihood of developing symptoms, but it doesn’t reduce it to zero.

"Your gran may be one of the small number of people who won’t get protection from the vaccine."

He added that there will still be a risk until enough people have had the vaccine to keep the majority of the population protected.

Can I hug people if I've had the jab?

Professor Jonathan Van Tam previously said that the vaccine "isn't a magic bullet" and that we would need to take things "step by step" in order to get back to some sort of normality.

On whether or not you could hug your mum if you've had a jab – Prof Van Tam said it would be circumstantial.

In an interview with the BBC he said: "It would depend upon, not only who your mum is, but who you are in terms of how well you're going to respond to the vaccine.

"I think until we are properly confident of how the vaccine works and properly confident that disease levels are dropping, even if you've had the vaccine, you're going to have to follow all the rules that apply for a while longer."

Will care home visits change if residents have had their jabs?

The coronavirus vaccine aren't 100 per cent effective and even if you've had the jab – there is still a chance that you could catch the virus and pass it on.

People visiting care homes will have to continue to be screened when visiting relatives as there is still a risk to their health.

What do the jabs mean for people who have been shielding?

Many people across the UK are currently shielding.

People in this category are the extremely clinically vulnerable and have health conditions that make them more susceptible to severe Covid-19.

Dr Tildesley said that the advice for people shielding could change once more people have been vaccinated – but until then he said people should continue to take precautions.

Will I need a jab to go to the pub?

Michael Gove previous ruled out vaccine passports for people who want to have a pint at their local pub.

But vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said technology could play a role in identifying who has had the jab and who hasn't.

Zahawi said: "I think you’ll probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system – as they have done with the [test and trace] app."

Will I need a jab to go on holiday?

A number of countries are considering making vaccine passports a requirement if you want to travel to their country.

The Seychelles has become the first country to require them for all arrivals, while Saga Cruises will ban any non-vaccinated travellers from their holidays.

Dr Richard Dawood, who specialists in travel medicine said that the more countries which enforce them, the more will follow.

He explained: "Regardless of how any of us feel about the idea of ‘vaccine passports’ for travel, they will ultimately be unavoidable.

“Once countries begin insisting on proof of Covid immunity from arriving travellers, there will be little option but to embrace the challenge."

He also said that restrictions which include face masks and social distancing are likely to remain in place for the future.

Countries including Greece and Spain have supported vaccine passports for holidaymakers, although have stressed that it will allow free travel, not ban travel outright.

Can my boss force me to get a jab?

Employers have a duty to protect their employees and anyone on the premises of their business.

East Midlands-based solicitors, Nelsons state that while an employer can't force you to be vaccinated it may be within their rights to take action if you refuse to have a jab.

This would depend on what sort of profession you were in, but the experts stated that you could be dismissed for refusing the vaccine if it means an employee would present a threat to themselves or others.

For example a healthcare worker without the jab would risk spreading the virus to other staff members, patients and family members visiting.

Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins previously said he won't hire anyone who hasn't had a Covid vaccine as part of a strict a "no jab, no job" policy.

The plumbing firm is set is to introduce the rule into work contracts to ensure all employees will be vaccinated against coronavirus.

Why do we need two doses and is it ok if they are given 12 weeks apart?

With the Oxford and Pfizer vaccine each person needs two doses for the vaccine to take full effect.

The second dose, which gives maximum protection, comes between four weeks to three months after the first dose.

The country's immunisation campaign has now shifted – to give as many people as possible their first dose of vaccine.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "The priority should be to give as many people in at-risk groups their first dose, rather than providing the required two doses in as short a time as possible.

"Everyone will still receive their second dose and this will be within 12 weeks of their first.

"The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection."

There has been some debate as to why the jabs can now be given 12 weeks apart and at a Downing Street press conference last week Professor Chris Whitty said this was "simple maths".

He said that more people should be given one dose and an element of protection rather than a smaller group of people being given two doses.

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