Atkins JL, Masoli JAH, Delgado J Pre-existing comorbidities predicting COVID-19 and mortality in the UK Biobank Community Cohort. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2020; 75:(11)2224-2230

Baden LR, El Sahly HM, Essink B Efficacy and safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2021; 384:(5)403-416

Statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers on the prioritisation of first doses of Covid-19 vaccines. 2020;

UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan. 2021;

Immunisation against infectious disease—‘The green book’. 2006;

Immunisation e-learning for healthcare programme. 2021;

Advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination. 2020;

Li X, Xu S, Yu M Risk factors for severity and mortality in adult COVID-19 inpatients in Wuhan. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020; 146:(1)110-118

Decision: information for healthcare professionals on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 2021a;

Decision: information for healthcare professionals on COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneza. 2021b;

Decision: information for healthcare professionals on COVID-19 vaccine Moderna. 2021c;

Reg 174 information for UK healthcare professionals (SPC for Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine). 2021d;

Nguyen LH, Drew DA, Graham MS Risk of COVID-19 among front-line health-care workers and the general community: a prospective cohort study. Lancet Public Health. 2020; 5:(9)e475-e483

Policy and Procedure for Maintaining the Vaccine Cold Chain. 2015;

Indemnity arrangements for the Covid-19 vaccination programme. 2020;

Pan D, Sze S, Minhas JS The impact of ethnicity on clinical outcomes in COVID-19: a systematic review. EClinicalMedicine. 2020; 23

Pardi N, Hogan MJ, Porter FW, Weissman D mRNA vaccines – a new era in vaccinology. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018; 17:(4)261-279

Polack FP, Thomas SJ, Kitchin N Safety and efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2020; 383:(27)2603-2615

Consent: the green book, chapter 2. 2013;

Covid-19 vaccinator competency assessment tool. 2020b;

The green book chapter 14a: COVID-19—SARS-Cov-2. 2021a;

Guidance– the safety of COVID-19 vaccines when given in pregnancy. 2021c;

Patient Group Direction for COVID-19 mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 (Pfizer/BioNTech). 2021d;

Updated advice on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and women who are breastfeeding. 2020;

Sayedahmed EE, Elkashif A, Alhashimi M, Sambhara S, Mittal SK Adenoviral vector-based vaccine platforms for developing the next generation of influenza vaccines. Vaccines (Basel). 2020; 8:(4)

About the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. 2020;

Voysey M, Costa Clemmens SA, Madhi SA Safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222) against SARS-CoV2: an interim analysis of four randomised controlled trials in Brazil, South Africa and the UK. Lancet. 2021; 397:(10269)99-111

WHO coronavirus disease (COVID-19) dashboard. 2021a;

Interim recommendations for use of the AZD1222 (ChAdOx1-S (recombinant)) vaccine against COVID-19 developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca: Interim Guidance. 2021b;

Zhu FC, Guan XH, Li YH Immunogenicity and safety of a recombinant adenovirus type-5-vectored COVID-19 vaccine in healthy adults aged 18 years or older: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial. Lancet. 2020; 396:(10249)479-488

COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine administration

25 March 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 6


This article provides an overview of current COVID-19 vaccines available within the UK, including their mode of action, storage and handling. It outlines the recommendations on priority groups for vaccination and provides insight into the training recommendations for vaccinators.

This article provides an overview of the current COVID-19 vaccines available within the UK and provides insight into the training recommendations for vaccinators. As COVID-19 vaccine development is a fast-paced arena, the reader should continue to refer to national guidelines and publications, which are subject to updates based on the latest research findings. The ‘Green Book’, chapter 14a, contains up-to-date guidance on COVID-19 vaccines, the dose and schedule for the UK and recommendations for use of the vaccine (Public Health England (PHE), 2021a).

COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Transmission is primarily via respiratory (droplet and aerosol) and contact routes. Transmission risk is highest where people are in close proximity to one another (within 2 metres). Airborne transmission may also occur in health and care settings where aerosol-generating procedures are performed (PHE, 2021b). Specific pre-existing comorbidities present an increased risk of severe infection and hospitalisation, including dementia, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia (Atkins et al, 2020); increasing age and male gender also place individuals at higher risk of morbidity and mortality (Li et al, 2020). Emerging data suggests black, Asian and minority ethnicity (BAME) individuals are at increased risk of infection with increased incidence of morbidity, admission to an intensive care unit, and mortality, in comparison with white individuals (Pan et al, 2020). In the UK, the likelihood of a front-line healthcare worker reporting a positive COVID-19 test is increased in comparison with the general community alongside associated factors of supply of personal protective equipment, clinical setting and ethnic background (Nguyen et al, 2020). The high number of cases and related morbidity and mortality have laid bare the far-reaching impact of pandemic infection across the globe. As of mid-March 2021, there have been almost 120 million confirmed cases globally, including more than 2.6 million deaths (representing a global mortality of 2.2%). Europe and the Americas have been particularly affected and within the UK the current incidence of confirmed cases is over 4.2 million, with more than 125 000 associated deaths, representing UK-based mortality of 3.0% (World Health Organization (WHO), 2021a). The far-reaching impact of COVID-19 has demanded the development of safe and effective prophylactic vaccines, resulting in novel techniques for vaccine development, global collaboration and large cohort clinical trials, at a scale and pace not seen before. These developments will change the face of approaches to vaccination for years to come and will serve to contain the pandemic and limit the associated health, economic and social consequences of the disease. In the UK, three vaccines have been authorised for supply; two use an mRNA platform (Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 and Moderna mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine) and the third uses an adenovirus vector (AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine) (PHE, 2021a).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content