/ Health

Do you know how you’ll be contacted about the vaccine?

More and more people are being invited to get their COVID-19 jabs, but are you clear on how you’ll be told it’s your turn? Here’s what you should look out for.

We’ve covered concerning reports of vaccine scams recently, which show it’s vital that you’re able to tell if your invitation is genuine.

Most people will be contacted by a local NHS service, while some frontline workers, including hospital staff and carers, might get their invite through their employers.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine: what to expect

The NHS said it would send patients invitations by post, but we’ve heard from many of you that you’ve also received calls, texts and emails instead, and some people have been concerned about whether they’re genuine.

89-year-old Lily in West Sussex told us that different members of her family, some living in the same area, have all received different forms of communication.

She received a phone call inviting her for the first jab, while her 70-year-old daughter received a text message:

You can tell that this is a genuine invitation as it places the onus of communication on your usual method of contact with your local GP. There are no links to dubious websites requesting sensitive information, simply the instruction to contact your local surgery as you would normally do.

Meanwhile, her grandson has been told to expect a letter in the post confirming his appointment.

How you’ll find out when it’s your turn

Contact regarding the vaccine will depend on where in the UK you live.

NHS England confirmed that it’s using various ways to contact patients in England about their vaccines, including letters, phone calls, emails, texts, and outpatient appointments. This is to speed up the vaccination drive.

It said patients may be contacted by their GP surgery, local NHS Trust or a local pharmacy. If you’re a frontline key worker, you might even receive your invite through your employer.

Read more about vaccine invites in England here.

In Wales, patients can expect the same methods of communication as people in England.

NHS Scotland has said that people aged 70-79 can expect to receive letters in several health boards.

You can read about the latest on vaccine invitations in Scotland here.

In Northern Ireland, patients will be contacted by phone or by a branded NHS letter. Again, frontline workers might hear about their jabs through their employers.

How to spot and avoid vaccine scams

Remember, COVID-19 vaccinations are free, with no exceptions.

The biggest telltale sign of a scam is if you’re being asked to pay for a vaccine, or hand over payment details or ID documents. 

The NHS is offering vaccines for free to all UK residents, with no exceptions. Vaccines are not currently available privately. 

Anyone asking you for payment for any coronavirus-related NHS service should be treated with suspicion. If they’re calling you, refuse their offer and put the phone down.

Three things to remember to stay safe from NHS vaccine scams:

💉 The NHS will never ask you for payment, or for your payment details

💉 Nobody from the NHS will ever turn up at your door unexpectedly to give you a vaccine

💉 You’ll never be asked to send copies or originals of any ID documents in advance of your vaccination appointment. For example, passport, driving licence, bank statements or National Insurance Number

Ignore emails, calls and messages that seem suspicious, and report them. 

If you think you might have given away sensitive information or lost money to a scam, report it to Action Fraud. You can report using its online form or by calling 0300 123 2040. 

Fake government or NHS emails can be forwarded to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which is working with the police to tackle online fraud. You can forward suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk, and text messages to 7726.

Have you been contacted about the vaccine yet? And have you received any suspicious communication?

How have you been contacted about the vaccine?
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Anne says:
9 February 2021

As u may all now be aware all people over 70 are now being asked to contact the NHS coronavirus line (? GP’s – I know mine have currently got problems with their phone line).

I am 89 years old and have had my first covid jab (the Oxford version). At the time I was told in an NHS leaflet that my second jab should take place in THREE weeks. However there is much official talk of the interval between jabs being extended. I’m not sure whether NHS is sticking to the three week proposal or are they going for the extension? Am I to expect another invitation after the three week interval?

In general the interval is now 12 weeks to give as many people as possible initial protection. When vaccines are in limited supply I think this is the sensible approach. I imagine the leaflets were printed before this decision was made.

Mr G, I think the 3 week timing between vaccination jabs was a little presumptuous and seriously lacking in consideration or thought for the side effects suffered after the first jab by one in ten people. If I were offered a second jab, due on Thursday of this week, I would feel obliged to decline until I am fully recovered from the first.

Some people I know have been given a date for their second jab but others have not. We might have been mislead by the published figures for the number of doses of the various vaccine available.

The WHO have now endorsed the AZ/Oxford vaccine for all ages and are happy with the 12 weeks between vaccinations, I believe. Good news.
Inhaling steam is being paraded around by some foreigner as the preventative measure. Donald has missed that one.

Nicola S. Woodhouse says:
10 February 2021

Some people may ignore these phone calls. Do please answer.
My surgery rang my landline offering appt at nearby centre for 21 Jan. Fortunately I did answer the phone, altho it said number ‘withheld’. Also 1471 tape said ‘withheld’ so calls may be missed.

I received a withheld call this afternoon and assumed it was a scam call, but it was from the surgery to invite me to be vaccinated on Friday morning. If it’s sunny I will walk there as part of my daily exercise because it’s just across the golf course.

When I arrived home the post had arrived and there was a letter inviting me to book-in for my appointments. Hopefully the second one won’t involve waiting in a car park for 20 minutes at -3°C. 🥶

If a letter can simply advise us to book in for vaccination, why does notification by text need to use a link which may or may not be genuine?

The duplicate contact methods may well have contributed to the unexpectedly high take up of injections, 94% in one age group and 86% so far among the over 70s.

The weather will be warmer when most of us have our second jabs but, to be honest, I’d put up with a little climatic discomfort to get protection. I am unlikely to die of cold.

My point was that using a text message containing a link provides an opportunity for malicious scams.

My vaccination took place in an almost-deserted shopping mall where only one or two ‘essential’ shops were open. There was no queue when we arrived just before our appointed time. After initial verification we were ushered into a vacant shop unit that had been turned into a waiting room with chairs set out at social distance spacing. After a short spell we were then led to the lift that took us up to the ‘food court’ that had been reconfigured with screens and partitions to form waiting areas, an assessment area, and a vaccination area. I was quite impressed by the effort that had been put into creating a well-ordered, clean and safe environment for the purpose. The overall process was quite slow, probably because they did not have a full complement of staff and volunteers on duty, but at least we were in the warm and dry, and there was pleasant and relaxed company [in our age bracket] to chat with and reminisce about better times. The jab took about ten seconds and was performed very professionally and cheerfully by two St John Ambulance nurses [one with the needle, the other on keyboards]. it all made for an interesting morning out.

When we go back in April for our second dose it is possible that more of the shops in the mall might be allowed to trade but clearly there is no chance of the food court being open for business again since it has been booked by the NHS for vaccinations. Not that the regular offerings in the food court hold much appeal [unless you are a glutton for spuds you like, Millie’s muffins, slippery noodles, and king-size burgers].

I was directed to wait in my car until the appointment time, after which I joined a long but distanced queue. Apart from the wait, the process was well organised, the venue is out of town and isolated from other buildings, well signposted and easy to get to. When a friend attended the same vaccination centre there was not only no queue but she was ushered in as soon as she arrived, more than ten minutes before the appointed time.

I know several people who are in their sixties and have been invited to have the vaccine. I guess the intention is to run vaccination centres at maximum capacity subject to availability of stocks to better prepare the population for the easing of lockdown.

My second visit to the vaccination centre is on 16 April, which is nine weeks after the first one. I don’t think I will forget. Surprisingly the appointment card states: “Same time as today”, so I have put the time in my diary as a reminder.

So far I have not suffered any side effects.

Younger people with health issues or living with family with problems are eligible for vaccinations., as far as I know. I got plastered yesterday and the plasterer, 63, has an elderly relative they care for. He was invited for a vaccination and had it a couple if weeks ago.

A GP can register someone as a carer so that they receive priority for vaccination. I had a wee dram to celebrate my vaccination but did not get plastered.

I just had a wee. Don’t like drams.

If you’re Ok with the flu vaccine Wavechange, you should be alright with the COVID-19. The day after I received it I had an intermittent pneumatic drill in my left ear which lasted about 3 days, but otherwise I felt fine. The rest all started after then. At least I have some comfort in the knowledge that the vaccine must have worked well for me. Which one did you have?

Thanks for asking, Beryl. I’m glad you have recovered. I usually have mild ‘flu symptoms when I have the jab. I thought I had completely escaped any side-effects after the Covid jab (Oxford vaccine) but more than 24 hours later some muscles have started to ache – more than I remember with the ‘flu vaccine. I don’t mind a bit of discomfort if it does the job.

Take some paracetamol Wavechange to ease the muscle aches. One of the officials at my vaccination site told me to keep drinking plenty, but she didn’t specify what 🙂 Insomnia was also a problem for nearly 3 weeks.

I had an early night and seem to be back to normal. I will go for a walk and find out. It’s now a little tender where I was injected.

Last night I noticed a tender spot on my upper left arm where I was injected but it just causes a little discomfort when touched; no worse than a slight bruise and should normalise in a day or two I think.

Just to add balance, I had no side effects. Nor have most of those I’ve spoken to, other than the occasional ache or “heavy” arm. Much like the ‘flu injection.

The government are saying that the relaxation from lockdown should be in stages; one group first and check the effect, then another until we are sure the epidemic is on the way out. I think that is a sensible approach. I don’t understand why a group of MPs want to bypass this and get everything back to normal by mid-April.

Nor do I understand why a Covid passport is being promoted when we do not yet know whether vaccination prevents someone carrying the virus to infect others, including bringing variants back from less stringent countries.

Are these just populist policies? But in my humble and ignorant opinion they dilute public resolve, shed doubt on a stated policy. I don’t want another 12 months like the last, I want to see the virus knocked on the head as far as is possible even if it means the restrictions are relaxed in a more orderly and careful way.

Side-effects vary between individuals and thanks to testing were well documented before the vaccines were made available. I know a couple of people who have felt ill for a couple of days, but most have been fine.

Anyone who has a bad reaction to a medicine can complete a ‘yellow card’ notification. At one time this had to be done by a GP or hospital doctor but this was extended to allow the public to submit reports. Here is the page for reporting vaccine problems: https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk

A reaction to a vaccine (rather than one of the ingredients) is an indication that it is doing its job.

I trust the converse is not true – that if there is no reaction the vaccine’s efficacy is deficient!

I wouldn’t worry, John. The vaccines have been shown to be effective and most people have little reaction.

Everyone’s immune system is unique and reacts differently. People who suffer allergies are more likely to experience a stronger reaction to vaccines, but that can also vary with each individual allergy sufferer.

If Covid-19 has forced you to wear a mask while wearing your glasses, you may be entitled to condensation 🙂

A mask has kept my lower face warm during the last bout of cold weather by distributing exhaled warm air.😷

It’s a masqueraide 😉

Good point, Malcolm. When I got off the bus the other day I took my mask off as usual but promptly put it back on again because it had been a useful face-warmer.

How come the text had a link to book.nhs.me which is not registered to the NHS in the UK.

How are OAPs supposed to know if this is legit or not?

Such a link is only of any use to someone using a computer, and OAP’s using a computer are more likely to know [or be able to check] the official NHS websites than most of the population.

It’s not OAP’s who are getting scammed all the time, using dodgy websites, getting ripped off for bogus purchases, falling for bank scams, and giving out their personal details to all and sundry.

OAP’s have decades of experience so they trust no one, check everything, do little on-line, act wisely, and give nothing away.

Only older pensioners over 70 have been called up so far and they mostly received an official letter from the NHS or their GP’s practice showing the correct registration information; they would assume a text message was unofficial. Our GP’s office never give any information in a telephone message but ask whoever they are trying to contact to call the reception line.

Which? Travel have an item on https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/02/will-covid-19-vaccine-passports-kick-start-travel-again/ opening up the travel industry. They have been keen to do this all through the pandemic.

Have I missed the revelation that a vaccinated person not only gains personal protection but is also not capable of being a carrier of the virus if they contact an infected person? Otherwise they can bring the virus, in whatever variant, back to the UK and harm other people not yet immunised.

So the statement ” However, the UK could be at an advantage as it races ahead of mainland Europe – and most of the world – with its vaccine rollout.” seems irresponsible. And nowhere in the Which? piece could I see any warning that vaccination does not prevent an individual being a carrier.

Maybe I have missed some crucial information?

Somehow Which? and some others assume people are incapable of living properly unless they can holiday abroad. Holidaymakers and others will travel to destinations with less stringent precautions than ours, will contact people visiting from other countries where precautions are less,, and be in confined spaces when travelling. Holidaying is very nice to be able to do but, until the world is properly vaccinated or vaccination is shown to also prevent carrying the infection, if the choice is between preventing more deaths or holidaying abroad then I would play safe.

This is current gov.uk information :

Can you give COVID-19 to anyone if you have had the vaccine?
The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and a full course will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. We do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus, but we do expect it to reduce this risk. So, it is still important to follow the guidance in your local area to protect those around you.

To protect yourself and your family, friends and colleagues you still need to:

practice social distancing
wear a face mask
wash your hands carefully and frequently
follow the current guidance

@gmartin, George, should this warning not be included in the Which? Travel news, or do they have better information?

Despite being asked a number of times, Which? Travel have never responded to questions about why they seem to promote a return to international holidays while the danger of bringing back Covid infections remains.
I feel that some in the UK simply do not take Covid seriously enough. After nearly 120 000 deaths within 28 days of a Covid diagnosis you would think they would. But, I suppose, if it hasn’t happened to anyone close we do tend to be less concerned.

I think people in the media who feed off the travel trade for their living have become less objective than they need to be.

I read that Simon Calder, the highly respected senior travel editor for The Independent, who notably “always pays his way”, received a public lambasting recently for exhorting people to book holidays for this summer. The British hold a strong dislike of prominent people and organisations that misjudge and seek to subvert popular sentiment.

Hi both. Which? Travel certainly doesn’t want to reopen holidays. Here’s its position:


And here are the very clear views of the Editor, Rory Boland. His position has actually led to him receiving criticism from those who do want to open up holidays too soon:


Which? completely backs Rory’s position:


Thanks George. I do not frequent Twitter so had missed these comments.

Which? is not advocating holiday booking abroad for the time being but it is calling for government support for the industry. I do not think that is a justifiable use of our money in the present circumstances and there are higher priorities for relief. It is largely travel that has spread the virus and created a pandemic.

@gmartin, thanks George. I don’t use Twitter so rely on what I see on Which?’s “official” points of communication – its web pages. In this case Latest News and Press Releases. I believe my perception to be correct that the tone, over the time of the pandemic, has been to support the (overseas) travel industry and not to emphasise the very real dangers of holidaying abroad and bringing back infections. And, as we have seen, that is exactly what has happened.

In the latest example I referenced above, regarding the use if vaccine passports, I could find no warning that even those vaccinated could become infected and bring the virus back to the UK, and to spread it. Why was no such warning made. The danger is that this just dilutes the message that health officials are trying to get across, encouraging people perhaps to be less cautious.

If Which? think a vaccine passport is fine for overseas holidays, do they think anyone who has been vaccinated can come totally out of lockdown in the UK and go where they want?

At the moment we have no idea of when inland travel restrictions [other than for the specified purposes] will end. Until that happens, a trip to the airport or cruise terminal for a leisure getaway will be a contravention of the regulations.

The only reason I can see for people taking the risk and booking abroad for this summer is to ‘stockpile’ their holiday so that when it is cancelled and they get their refund or vouchers they are ahead of the pack when the market opens again.


” Many passengers have been prevented from travelling because of local or national lockdowns, restrictions preventing entry at their destination, or the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advising against non-essential travel.

Passengers in these circumstances would often have only been given the choice of rebooking their flight or losing their money. Rebooking may have meant paying a significant difference in fare if the new flights were more expensive, and trying to choose new dates without knowing when international travel is likely to resume again.

It would be interesting to know how many of these 2.3 million people (with their families?) booked non-essential travel during the pandemic. They took two risks. One, inability to travel because of the changing danger of the pandemic. Two, and far more important to the rest of us, the likelihood of spreading an acquired infection when they returned to the UK.

In the former case, could this not have been dealt with by getting the right travel insurance and buying fully flexible flights or take a chance and rebook, accepting a future flight may cost more. They took a risk and it didn’t pay off.

In the second case taking such a risk seems totally irresponsible and selfish. I, like many others, spent most of the last 12 months relatively isolated, having shopping delivered, wearing a mask and socially distancing if I had to go out and avoiding congregating in groups, to protect myself, family and friends. Crammed on a plane, bus, train, mixing with people from who knows where, in places where precautions were not stringent – restaurants for example may not be properly sanitised – made an ideal environment to become a virus spreader.

I think this kind of behaviour has contributed to over 120 000 deaths, a totally different loss than some discretionary spending money.

Should they be refunded? Not unless there was a legal requirement. Should I sympathise? Not when so many other people used common sense to protect themselves and others.

Got call from GP for vaccine in early March. CallerId indicated it was from GP.

Once we can get vulnerable safe looking forward to getting back to kid’s work at church as well as meeting together in person. God made us to be social and isolation even with Zoom isn’t as things should be.

Placement error.

It is the general consensus that the UK’s vaccination programme has gone well and the statistics confirm both high uptake and good results.

Surely we want as many people as practically possible to have the vaccine and get both doses. Why therefore does the media focus on the minor negative aspects? They seem to emphasise the fact that a small minority of those vaccinated experienced some mild after effects.

And why does the BBC headline a news story as follows: “Seven UK blood-clot deaths after AstraZeneca vaccine” when the really excellent news is that ONLY seven blood-clot deaths occurred after 18 million doses had been administered?

The full BBC article presents a fuller picture with proper explanations but the headline lingers in the mind – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-56620646

The early rounds of vaccination started with older people likely to be more susceptible to severe side effects. Evidence of cause and effect is still emerging and analysis continues, but it would be a tragedy if people were deterred from having the vaccination, or from taking the second inoculation, because they paid too much attention to misleading headlines. The balance of risk remains strongly in favour of vaccination and as the programme progresses through younger cohorts the attributable death rate should diminish to proportions synonymous with normal experience.

The media seem to be more interested in comparing the vaccination programme here with that in other countries in an act of international gloating which is not called for; our overall death rate from Covid-19 is nothing to be proud of or smug about.

The safest approach is for everyone except yourself to be vaccinated. That’s not going to happen so the best course is for as many people as possible to be vaccinated. I wonder if those who have experienced blood clots may be related to injections going into a vein rather than into muscle.

Young people are at much lower risk than the elderly, but I hope they will accept vaccination for the common good and help us overcome coronavirus, so that we can get back to normality sooner rather than later and to minimise further loss of life.

The media like bad news, and rarely emphasise the good. Although, in general, they have been positive about the vaccine take up and programme, a triumph for our country. Where would we have been without Brexit, I wonder – experiencing a 3rd wave?

The few deaths from blood clots, for whatever reason they have occurred, would be likely to have been eclipsed by the number of deaths or individuals with long-term health damage if those groups had not been vaccinated.

I wonder why some EU countries have taken opportunities to put down the Oxford AZ vaccine, thus causing widespread concern among their citizens, poor take up of vaccines, and now back to lockdown and disturbing increases in infection. Is it to distract attention from their bungling of vaccine procurement and distribution? Is it politics to try to combat their loss of face? Is it Pfizer, perhaps, trying to corner the profitable market against a not-for-profit vaccine? Is it because it was developed in the UK? I do not know but there seems no logic to it when the outcome has been to simply leave a large proportion of their populations unprotected, helping spread the virus, more variants likely, leading to far more health and death problems than if they had just got on with the job.

Agreed, Malcolm. At least we got on with the job and the jab.

In the final analysis the situation in the UK could be similar to that in other developed countries.