understanding the Coronavirus vaccine

Covid-19 vaccines: what you need to know

The Covid vaccination programme is a sign of hope to many. But, with so much information (and misinformation) available online it can be difficult to get to the facts.

On this page you can:

Arrow icon Learn about Coronavirus

Arrow icon Learn about Coronavirus vaccines

Arrow icon Read about Covid vaccine experiences

Arrow icon Learn quick Covid vaccine facts

Arrow icon Download translated vaccine facts

Arrow icon Book a Covid vaccine appointment UK


Read Covid-19 vaccine FAQs

Join the  conversation. If one thing deserves an extra layer of care and consideration, it’s your healthTake your time to read, and seek reliable sources to help you and your loved ones make informed decisions.

What is Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

Covid-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a dangerous strain of a coronavirus discovered in December 2019. (Coronaviruses are a family of viruses.)

Whilst Covid symptoms can be mild to some people, to others it can be deadly, or lead to life-threatening health complications, pneumonia or long Covid. All viruses, including the virus that causes Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2), change over time and there are various variants of interest. Read more about Covid-19 variants here.

About Covid-19 vaccines

Covid-19 vaccines in the UK are continually monitored and have been given regulatory approval for supply by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), following a thorough and rigorous assessment for safety and effectiveness.

Other vaccines are in wide use across the globe, but will only be available in the UK if they are required and once they have been thoroughly tested.

Learn more about Covid-19 vaccines.

Coronavirus vaccine facts

Together with measures to stop viruses spreading - like social distancing - vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from Covid-19. 


If you, or someone you know is worried about taking the Covid vaccine, join the conversation, seek reliable sources and learn the facts from medical professionals like Dr Karan. Share our quick facts below to help make informed decisions.

Learn more about what's in the Covid vaccine (ingredients).

If you're undecided about getting the Covid-19 vaccine, read more about vaccine experiences.

How to register with a GP and book a Covid vaccine appointment?

Everyone in England, regardless of their immigration status, can get access to a Covid-19 vaccine.

In this video, produced in partnership with Doctors of the World, we share key information on how to register with a GP and book a Covid-19 vaccine. 

You can also watch this video in:

Vaccine history

Vaccines have been used to fight against infectious diseases since the 18th century, and The British Red Cross has been supporting vaccine programmes for generations.

Our online exhibition explores the key moments in vaccination history, the role of the Red Cross, and how the smallpox vaccine led to the global eradication of the disease.

Find out more about the history of vaccines.

Learn more about how Red Cross volunteers are helping the NHS fight Covid-19

Tube containing a single vaccine for smallpox, 1888.