There are currently three coronavirus vaccines that have been approved for use in the UK – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and the Moderna vaccine. Clinical studies involving tens of thousands of people have shown that all three vaccines are safe for the overwhelming majority of people.
A small number of people with a history of serious allergies have had a severe reaction, called ‘anaphylaxis’, immediately after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Anaphylaxis can be a rare side effect of any vaccine, and all health professionals who give vaccines have been trained to treat it. However, because of this risk, these vaccines may not be suitable for people with a history of anaphylaxis caused by a food or medicine allergy.
If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction in the past, it’s very important to discuss this with your GP before having a COVID-19 vaccine.
Does the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine cause blood clots?
Recent research suggests a possible link between the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and extremely rare blood clots. But these blood clots can happen naturally, so more research is needed before we know whether the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine causes them.
If you’ve already had your first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and didn’t experience these rare blood clots, scientists believe it’s safe for you to have your second dose.
If you haven’t had your first dose and you’re at higher risk of blood clots (because of a health condition or medication), as a precaution your doctor may recommend the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine instead. Anyone who experienced these rare blood clots after their first dose will be offered a different vaccine for their second dose.
As with any vaccine or treatment, speak to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you get any unusual side effects after having a COVID-19 vaccine.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for men having chemotherapy?
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine do not contain a live virus, so you can’t catch COVID-19 from these vaccines and they are safe for men having treatment for prostate cancer, including chemotherapy.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is made by changing a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees, but that is harmless in humans. The virus has been changed so that it can't multiply inside people. This means it can't cause illness and is safe for people having treatments that weaken the immune system, such as chemotherapy.
However, you should still talk to your medical team about whether to have the vaccine if you’re having chemotherapy.