So far, COVID-19 has cost the world hundreds of billions of dollars and caused almost 1.5 million casualties. We all think that COVID-19 has been our guest for way too long - but what can we do about it? The most effective way to battle this kind of enemy is to create a vaccine against it 💉. Multiple companies have been in a race since COVID-19 was discovered to do just that.
On 8 December 2020, the first person in the UK (and indeed the world) received a COVID-19 vaccine approved for general use. This event truly marks the beginning of the end of our COVID-19 troubles. But this raises a whole load of new questions:
- How far are we away from the finish line?
- Who will be first in the queue to get the vaccine?
- When are you likely to be offered it?
We created this calculator to deliver all the answers to every single one of these crucial questions. Omni's vaccine queue calculator will estimate for you how many people are ahead of you in the queue to get a COVID vaccine in the UK. It also predicts how long you might have to wait to get your vaccine. By using our tool, you'll have a better idea of when you can expect to get vaccinated.
We've based our vaccine queue calculator on the UK government's priority list and the likely rate of vaccination.
UK vaccination updates
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh receive their first doses of vaccine
On 9 January 2021, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine at Windsor Castle. Aged 94 and 99, respectively, they definitely qualify to be two of the 1.5 million people who have now had their first dose of vaccine. This news will help build confidence in COVID vaccines and increase the uptake rate.
Approval of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
On 30 December 2020, the second COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in the UK. This vaccine is easier to handle (can be stored at normal fridge temperatures - 2-8 °C) and the UK government has ordered a total of 100 million doses. The other big change is that while still requiring two doses to get full, long-term protection, these doses can be between four and 12 weeks apart. That means more people can get at least some protection in the short term.
For now, the default vaccination rate in the calculator will be left at 1,000,000 a week (note that this is the expected average figure over the entire vaccination rollout). As more data on the actual vaccination rate is released, we may revise this default value. You can, however, change this value yourself in the Rollout of vaccines section of the calculator.
Prioritising who gets the vaccine
It's great that we now have COVID vaccines that have been approved for general use. However, that's not the end of the COVID story just yet. Millions of doses of vaccines now have to be produced and injected into the arms of people. That is one massive manufacturing, logistical, and time-consuming task for everyone involved. It is all going to take time.
The first phase of the vaccination programme focuses on saving lives and reducing hospital admissions. So it is logical to give the vaccine first to those groups that are most vulnerable - older people and those with pre-existing conditions.
The UK government has published a nine-point priority list of groups that will get a COVID vaccine in the first phase. Let's take a look at the list:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers;
- All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers;
- All those 75 years of age and over;
- All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals;
- All those 65 years of age and over;
- All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality. Unpaid carers who receive carer's allowance or are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person;
- All those 60 years of age and over;
- All those 55 years of age and over; and
- All those 50 years of age and over.
We have gathered data on how big each group is likely to be (see graphic below), so we can estimate where you are in the queue.
So you know whether you are included in a particular group, let's examine them in detail.
Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
If you received a letter from your GP asking you to shield yourself during lockdown, then you are included in this group.
If you are not sure, here is a list of conditions that automatically qualify you in this group:
Solid organ transplant recipients;
People with specific cancers:
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy;
- People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy;
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment;
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer;
- People having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors; and
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease);
People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection;
Problems with your spleen, e.g. splenectomy (having your spleen removed);
Adults with Down’s syndrome;
Adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5);
Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired; or
Other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.
Underlying health conditions
If you currently have one of the listed underlying health conditions, you are at increased risk from COVID-19:
Chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma;
Chronic heart disease (and vascular disease);
Chronic kidney disease;
Chronic liver disease;
Chronic neurological disease including epilepsy;
Severe and profound learning disability;
Solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients;
People with specific cancers;
Immunosuppression due to disease (e.g. HIV) or treatment;
Asplenia and splenic dysfunction;
Morbid obesity; or
Severe mental illness.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
If you are currently pregnant or are planning a pregnancy in the next three months, then you should avoid taking the vaccine. Once further trial data is available, this advice may change.
On 30 December, updated government advice now allows both the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines to be offered to women while breastfeeding. This change of advice is because there is no known risk with giving non-live vaccines to breastfeeding women. However, there is an absence of safety data specifically for the current COVID vaccines, which should be made clear to you before you give consent to have the vaccine.
At this time, COVID vaccines are not being offered to people under 16 years of age, except in cases where there is a very high risk of exposure and severe outcomes. A full risk and benefits assessment is needed before administering the vaccine.
Again, as more trial data become available, this recommendation may change.
|❗ Disclaimer: Please remember that this calculator is based on the UK government's priority list and does not take into consideration individual cases that might be exempt from this general prioritisation.|
How to use the vaccine queue calculator?
Follow these steps to calculate your likely place in the COVID vaccine queue. The first section is all about you.
- Please enter your age in years (16 to 120). Generally, the older you are, the sooner you'll be called up to have the vaccine.
- Say whether you live or work in a care home. If everyone in a care home is vaccinated, that will allow relatives to visit with decreased risk to the residents.
- Are you pregnant, or are you planning to be in the next three months? If the answer is yes, the vaccine makers are not currently recommending you have a COVID vaccine until more trial data is released.
- Answer whether you are a frontline health or social care worker (e.g., nurse, doctor, etc.). This group is likely to have a lot of exposure to the virus and need to be protected.
- Are you classed as extremely vulnerable? Answer yes if you are asked to shield during lockdown or have one of the conditions on this list.
- Have you got one of these underlying health conditions mentioned above?
You will then see an estimate of the minimum and the maximum number of people who are inline to receive the vaccine before you. We also indicate how long it might be before you get both doses of the vaccine and be fully protected, based on the vaccination rate. By default, we base these figures on a vaccination rate of 1 million vaccinations a week and a default uptake rate of 70.6%. If you want to change these values, we'll explain how in the next section.
Rollout of vaccines
In the Rollout of vaccines section of the calculator, you can enter a custom value for the vaccination rate. This is the rate at which people receive a full vaccine, which consists of two doses. You can either enter the time it will take to vaccinate everyone in the UK, or the number of vaccinations a week. We've set the default to the current UK government target of 1 million vaccinations a week. As the vaccination programme gets up and running, you can enter the actual vaccination rate.
Not everyone who is asked to receive the vaccine will accept it. That will mean that the queue for you will, in effect, be shorter. We set a default uptake rate of 70.6%, which was the figure last year for people aged 64 and over who were offered the annual flu vaccine, according to the Nuffield Trust. In the previous 15 years, this figure has ranged from 70% to 75%. For COVID-19, the uptake may well be higher. Keep an eye out for the latest figure for the uptake rate and use it in the calculator.
We know that waiting to get the vaccine might be frustrating. However, by prioritising those people that are most at risk of hospitalisation and death, we should quickly be able to save lives with this fantastic new weapon against the virus.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will have passed all their safety tests. However, as with any approved drug on the market, you may experience side effects. Generally, though, the risk of side effects is much smaller than the possible consequences of a nasty COVID-19 infection.
How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need?
Nearly all COVID-19 vaccines approved or under development need two shots to be effective. The doses need to be around 3 to 12 weeks apart, depending on the vaccine. For example, you need to have the two Pfizer/BioNTech shots 21 days apart, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be up to 12 weeks apart.
What are the possible side effects I might experience?
As with all vaccines, you might experience mild to moderate side effects that may last a few days. If you have pain and/or a fever, you can treat these side effects by taking medicines such as paracetamol. Below are the known side effects, grouped by frequency.
Very common (may affect more than 1 in 10 people):
- Pain at the injection site
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Injection site swelling
- Redness at the injection site
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Feeling unwell
Will COVID vaccines be mandatory?
The UK government has said that COVID-19 vaccines will not be mandatory. However, you may have to get vaccinated to be allowed to do certain activities. An example is the Australia airline Qantas, which will require all passengers to be vaccinated once vaccines are widely available. So while you can technically opt-out of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the practical restrictions on your life might be significant.
Who was the first person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK?
Margaret Keenan, aged 90, received the first official COVID-19 vaccine in the UK on the 8th of December 2020, at the University Hospital in Coventry.
When was the first COVID-19 vaccine approved for the UK?
On the 2nd of December 2020, UK regulators approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on an emergency-use basis. This date was just seven months after clinical trials started. They were able to do this at super fast speed by analysing the trial data continuously, rather than waiting until the end of all the trials.
Who is making the COVID vaccine?
This first vaccine has been developed by US drug giant Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech. Many other vaccines are in development by companies such as AstraZeneca (the Oxford vaccine), GSK, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, to name but a few.
Will there be enough vaccine for everyone?
Certainly not at the moment, but eventually, yes. Pfizer alone plans to produce 1.3 billion doses of its vaccine in 2021. As further vaccines are approved and manufactured, more supply will come on stream to meet the demand around the world.
Do I still need to wear a mask after I am vaccinated?
Yes. At this stage, it is still unclear whether the current vaccine will also prevent the transmission of the virus to people around you. It is similar to the current situation where people have COVID-19 but suffer no symptoms. However, they are still able to transmit it to others. It may be only until a good majority of people have been vaccinated that restrictions to our daily lives are lifted.
What percentage needs to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity?
We do not yet know the precise threshold of vaccinated people in the community needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and achieve herd immunity. For flu, experts say the figure is around 70%, so that is the current working theory for COVID-19. Further research and modelling are needed to get a more concrete value.
If I've had COVID-19, do I need to be vaccinated?
Yes. If you have had COVID-19, then your body will have some natural immunity to it, preventing you from suffering from it again. However, some early evidence suggests this natural immunity might not last very long. While we also don't know precisely how long the vaccine's protection lasts, it could be better than your natural immunity. It will undoubtedly extend the time you are resistant to COVID-19.
Can I have a COVID-19 vaccine if I am currently breastfeeding?
Yes. The current advice now allows both the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines to be offered to women while breastfeeding. That is because there is no known risk with giving non-live vaccines to breastfeeding women.
Do I get special priority if I am an unpaid carer?
Yes. Unpaid carers appear in group 6 on the UK government's nine-point priority list. If you receive carer's allowance or are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person who wouldn't receive their care if you fell ill, then you are included in this group.