Coronavirus vaccine and pancreatic cancer

Find out about the coronavirus vaccine and what this means for people with pancreatic cancer.

There are two coronavirus vaccines available in the UK – the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford AstraZeneca
vaccine.

Who can have the coronavirus vaccine?

The coronavirus vaccine is being rolled out across the UK through the NHS. People most at risk from coronavirus are being offered the vaccine first, and the order of people who can have the vaccine is based on risk.

The first people to be offered the vaccine will be older people living in care homes, frontline health and social care workers, and people over 80. It will then be offered to:

  • people aged over 75
  • people aged over 70 and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and were shielding
  • people aged over 65
  • people aged 16 to 64 who have an underlying health condition which means they are at higher risk of getting seriously unwell from coronavirus – this includes people with diabetes, people with lowered immunity due to treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or steroids, and people who have had their spleen removed
  • people aged over 60
  • people aged over 55
  • people aged over 50.

People living with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable will have the vaccine at the same time as the general public – unless they are also in one of the groups above.

You will be contacted by the NHS when it is your turn to have the vaccine. The NHS have asked that you don’t contact them about it before then.

It is important that you have the vaccine when it is offered to you, as it should protect you from coronavirus.

You will need to have 2 doses of the vaccine. It is important that you have the second dose for the vaccine to work properly.

  • For the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, you should have the second dose between 3 and 12 weeks after the first.
  • For the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, you should have the second dose between 4 and 12 weeks after the first.

Where will I have the vaccine?

You will be told where to go to get the vaccine when you are invited for it. This may be at a hospital, vaccine centre or your GP surgery.

If you can’t go to the vaccine centre that’s offered, you may need to wait to get it at a convenient place.

How well does the vaccine work?

Both vaccines have been shown to work well in clinical trials, where they have been tested on thousands of people.

The vaccine will protect most people from coronavirus. After you have had the first dose, you should have some protection from coronavirus, although it this may take a couple of weeks. You will need to have both doses to get the best protection. The second dose is important for longer term protection.

There is a small chance that you could still get coronavirus even if you have had the vaccine, although it should be less severe. And we don’t yet know whether the vaccine will stop you from catching coronavirus and giving it to other people. This means you should still follow social distancing guidance.

How safe is the vaccine?

The vaccines have been shown to be safe in the clinical trials. For a vaccine to be approved for use in the UK, it has to meet strict safety standards. The vaccines are safe for people having treatments that affect their immune system, such as chemotherapy.

You can’t catch coronavirus from the vaccine. Some people may have mild side effects from the vaccine, such as a headache, feeling tired, general aches or mild flu-like symptoms.

Anybody who has previously has a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a vaccine, medicine or food may not be able to have the vaccine. Tell staff before you are vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction.

There is more information about the vaccine on the NHS and GOV.UK websites.

If you have any questions about the vaccine and pancreatic cancer, you can speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.

Speak to our specialist nurses
Specialist nurse Rachel

Updated: 4 January 2021