Covid-19 Vaccines: How to Get Yours and What to Expect

Published by University of Bedfordshire

University life is returning to ‘normal’ and we are all looking forward to our campuses being back with a buzz, with full lecture theatres, busy libraries and most importantly, open nightclubs!

With student life getting back to normal it is essential that everyone stays safe and protects themselves and each other as much as possible. The best way to protect yourself and those around you, and ensure that normal life can continue is to get vaccinated!

If you are worried about the vaccine because of any existing medical issues you feel could interfere with the vaccination, you should contact your GP for help and advice or phone 111.

The facts

It’s normal to feel a little hesitant about any medical procedure, especially when needles are involved, but getting vaccinated is a quick, easy and a mostly-painless way to make sure that you are protected from Covid-19. 

Watch the video below for more information on what is in the Covid-19 vaccine and how it works.  

Vaccines have been a safe and effective way to combat disease for hundreds of years and have led to diseases like: Polio, Smallpox and Measles being eliminated in many regions of the world. Despite the effectiveness and safety of vaccines misinformation continues to spread, so here are the facts you need to know, directly from the NHS, about the Covid-19 vaccines you can receive in the UK.

  • Receiving a Covid-19 vaccine reduces your risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19
  • Covid-19 vaccines reduce your risk of catching or spreading Covid-19
  • The vaccines have undergone rigorous testing and have met the UK’s strict standards for safety, quality and effectiveness
  • Common side effects last a short amount of time and are nothing more serious than some soreness in your arm, possibly feeling tired, a headache or feeling generally Achy and ill. 
  • Major side effects are very rare and vaccination staff are trained to look out for any symptoms
  • A vaccine does not alter your DNA or cause any problems with fertility or pregnancy
  • The vaccines don’t contain any animal products and are suitable for people of all faiths. 

Covid-19 vaccines are currently available for:

  • everyone aged 16 or over
  • some children aged 12 to 15 who have a higher risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 or who live with someone at high risk of catching it

Currently anyone under the age of 40 will usually be offered a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and you should have the same vaccine for both doses. 

If you are worried about the vaccine because of any existing medical issues you feel could interfere with the vaccination, you should contact your GP for help and advice or phone 111. 

Find out more about each vaccine

For more information about each vaccine you can read the NHS’s patient leaflets

  • Moderna – Fun fact the Moderna vaccine was part funded by Dolly Parton, so you could have the power of the Queen of Country in your veins. (Just don’t let Jolene know) 
  • AstraZeneca
  • Pfizer

Our very own Dr Chris Papadopoulos – Principal Lecturer in Public Health in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences urges that being hesitant about getting a vaccine is a greater danger than any side effect. He said: “Recent research by Imperial College London has estimated that vaccine hesitancy could lead to an additional 236 deaths per million population. This is far higher than the estimated 18 fatal cases of blood clots identified among 25 million Europeans who have had the jab.”

Other ways to get vaccinated

If you would like to get vaccinated but can’t attend one of our walk in centres that’s ok, there are a number of other ways to book your appointment.

Booking a vaccine appointment

To book a vaccine appointment visit the NHS booking service or phone 119, translators are available if needed. If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, or are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can use textphone 18001 119 or the NHS 119 BSL interpreter service.

Walk in vaccination centres 

Alternatively you can find walk in vaccination sites, where you can get vaccinated at a time that suits you without a prior appointment. Perfect for if you have a few gaps in a busy schedule!

You don’t need any ID or be registered with a GP, although it may help to have your NHS number ready when you arrive. 

What to expect at the vaccination centre

Going to get your vaccine is a quick and easy, here’s what to expect when you go to get jabbed!

When you arrive at the vaccination centre you will be greeted by the vaccination staff and asked to wear a face covering (if not exempt) and then directed to a socially distanced queue, giving you plenty of time to think of a post vaccine snack you can reward yourself with (we went with our favourite chocolate bar). 

Once you have gotten to the front of the queue the centre staff will ask you for your name, NHS number and whether it’s your first or second dose before directing you onwards to wait until called for your vaccine. If you’re feeling anxious you can read through the vaccination booklet you receive or talk to the centre staff who will be able to answer questions and reassure you. 

Soon you will be called over and the person who is administering your vaccine will ask you some questions about your medical history and allergies. It’s important to mention if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction, if you’re pregnant or any medical information you feel may be important. 

You’ll then get your jab! Usually you are jabbed in your non-dominant arm and you will feel a quick sharp sensation from the needle. It takes no more than a couple of seconds for the vaccine to be injected, so you may not even feel a thing!

The hard part is over, and now you’re vaccinated. Congrats!

After you’ve been jabbed you will have to wait 15 minutes before you can leave. This is just so that the vaccination centre staff can make sure that you haven’t had a reaction and that you are feeling ok. After having the Covid-19 vaccine it’s normal that you may: feel soreness in your arm, feel tired, feel a headache or just generally feel achy and ill, this is all normal and expected, but even more of a reason to treat yourself to whatever post vaccine snack you were dreaming about in the queue.

For more information on Covid-19 vaccine side effects and safety, please visit the NHS website here. And remember, you can take painkillers such as paracetamol if you need to. If your symptoms get worse or you’re worried, call 111.

If you have a high temperature that lasts longer than two days, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you may have Covid-19. Stay at home and get a test.

You cannot catch Covid-19 from the vaccine, but you may have caught it just before or after your vaccination.


On arrival back at university, you should take two LFD tests (3-4 days apart) using home test kits (LFD Collect) and test twice a week thereafter.

You can pick up home Covid-19 Lateral Flow testing kits from our on-campus collection points:
Luton, The Print Shop based at 45 Park St, Luton LU1 3JX – 9am to 3pm
Bedford, Gateway – 9am to 3pm
Aylesbury Campus – students can collect kits from the library 

As well as picking up home testing kits on campus, you can also get tested within your local community: LutonBedfordMilton KeynesAylesburyLondon BridgeBirmingham or order home testing kits from the government website.

 If you have tested positive for Covid-19 you are legally required to self-isolate. You must also self-isolate if you have been contacted by NHS Track and Trace. From Monday 16 August, people fully vaccinated or under 18 will not need to self-isolate after close contact with someone who has Covid-19. You’ll still need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it’s positive, or if you have symptoms. 

You must follow Government and NHS guidance. After you have completed a Covid-19 test you should report your test results via the government Covid-19 test reporting serivce. You should report every test you do regardless of whether it is positive or negative.  Students with a positive test result must inform our Advisors, whether you are on campus or at home, by emailing: For more information about what you should do if you test positive for Covid-19 click hereYou must stay away from campus if you are feeling unwell.