The Covid-19 vaccine set to be rolled out across the UK has been thoroughly tested and is as safe as the general flu vaccine, according to the UK’s top medical regulator.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which is responsible for ensuring medicines in the UK are safe for use, also said the country is prepared to distribute the vaccine whatever the outcome of ongoing Brexit negotiations.
Talking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Dr Raine urged people to take up the Pfizer vaccine as soon as they get the opportunity.
She said: “People can be sure it has been looked at in a large number of people, 43,000, and looked at incredibly carefully. Please be confident as soon as we have more data we will be sharing it.
“Very few people are unable to take the vaccine. There is advice for people on a blood thinner or anti-coagulant, but that simply means you can have the vaccine if the benefits outweighs the risks. It has all been looked at extremely carefully.”
Find out about coronavirus in your area
Dr Raine said the vaccine has yet to be fully tested on pregnant woman, and anyone pregnant should take medical advice before taking up the vaccine.
She added: “My overall message is that the safety profile of the Covid-19 vaccine is really no different from any other vaccine.
“Some might have mild symptoms, it will probably disappear in a day or two, and nothing at all of a serious nature. So you can be confident there.
“It is as safe as any general vaccine, the kind you might have if you go on holiday, and of course the flu jab.
“And I might just add if you are still to have your flu jab, please to have it before you have the Covid vaccine, and not at the same time.”
Asked how uncertainty surrounding the UK government’s negotiations with the EU over post Brexit supply chains might affect the distribution of the vaccine, she added: “Our goal is to make sure whatever the outcome, whatever the deal, medicines and medical devices and vaccines reach anyone in all part of the country in the same way, without any interruption at all, and we have rehearsed, we are ready, we know that whatever the deal we will be able to ensure that people have access.
“In the event of no deal, we have practiced and we are fully prepared for any possible outcome, and our goal is very clear – to make sure that medicines and medical devices and vaccines get to those who need them, to patients and health care systems without any interruption whatsoever.”
She added: “It is vitally important, I would like to emphasise, the highest standards of scrutiny of safety and effectiveness and quality have been met.
“More than that our commission on human medicines has scrutinised every piece of data too, so there should be no doubt whatever that this is a very safe and highly effective vaccine.
“It will help us turn the corner. There is really not one of us who has not been affected by this pandemic, and our organisation has been completely focused on doing our job to be completely able to help defeat this terrible disease.”