Safety and side effects

All medicines, including vaccines, are tested for safety and effectiveness before they’re allowed to be used. Their safety continues to be checked while in use.

NHS Scotland will only use a vaccine if it meets the required standards of safety and effectiveness. The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved COVID-19 vaccines for use in the UK and they continue to monitor the safety profile.

View MHRA information about vaccines and vaccine safety (external website).

There is an NHS Scotland explainer video about the safety and side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine (external website). 

The COVID-19 vaccine surveillance programme monitors the uptake and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) have produced a statement for healthcare professionals about how COVID-19 vaccines are regulated for safety and effectiveness (external website).

Guidance for getting the vaccine if people have recently had COVID-19 infection

Even if someone has already had COVID-19, they could still get it again. The vaccine will reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

If someone does get it again, the vaccine can reduce how serious the symptoms will be.

If someone has recently had a confirmed COVID-19 infection – even if they have no symptoms – they should wait 4 weeks after the date of the test or first symptoms, whichever is earlier, to get the vaccine if they are:

  • aged 18 years or over
  • aged 5 to 17 years and are at higher risk from COVID-19
  • aged 5 to 17 years who share living accommodation on most days with someone with a weakened immune system

All other children and young people aged 5 to 17 years should wait 12 weeks from date of test or first symptoms, whichever is earlier, to get the vaccine. 

Reporting side effects

The MHRA runs the Yellow Card scheme which collects and monitors information on suspected safety concerns or incidents involving vaccines. The scheme relies on voluntary reporting of suspected safety concerns or incidents by healthcare professionals and members of the public.

Suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines can be reported through the Yellow Card scheme by:

Last updated: 06 October 2022