COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease which can cause serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.

The COVID-19 vaccine will offer you protection from COVID-19. If you do catch COVID-19 after vaccination, you should be protected from the serious illness the virus can sometimes cause. The vaccine is not mandatory. However, the HSE strongly recommend that you get the vaccine as soon as it is available to you.

People who are most at risk from COVID-19 will get the vaccine first. The COVID-19 vaccine is free. The vaccines will not be available privately. The HSE are offering the vaccine to the population to protect people and reduce the illness and deaths caused by COVID-19.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, we strongly recommend that you contact your GP or phone the HSE on 01 240 8787. We also advise that you only trust information from reliable sources such as the HSE ( or guidelines given by the Irish Government and NPHET. Please be aware that there is a lot of misinformation on social media in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI) is not a healthcare organisation, and we strongly recommend that you follow the guidelines issued by the Irish Government, HSE and NPHET. All information on this page comes from trusted sources which are referenced accordingly.

Latest Updates:

Minister Donnelly announces update to Vaccine Allocation Strategy

Click here to view the new Vaccine Allocation Strategy

Information on Ireland's COVID-19 vaccination centres have now been released.

To view these locations, please click here.

Who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine first?

The first groups to get the COVID-19 vaccine are:

  • People aged 65 years and older who live in long-term care facilities – they have a greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19.
  • Frontline healthcare workers – they have a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
  • If you live in a long-term care facility, you will be offered the vaccine there. If you are a healthcare worker, you will be offered the vaccine where you work or nearby.

The vaccine will be offered to more priority groups as soon as possible.

You do not need to apply or register to get the vaccine. The HSE will inform you when it's your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine, either through advertising or an invitation.

You can view a quick guide of the provisional vaccine allocation groups by clicking here.

You should not get the vaccine if you:

  • Currently have COVID-19 – wait until it has been 4 weeks since you first noticed symptoms or you first tested positive.
  • Have a fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) – wait until you feel better.
  • Have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine – the vaccinator will ask you about any allergies you may have.
  • Have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.

Read more about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Ireland by clicking here.


Vaccines are tested for safety and effectiveness before they can be used. The HSE only uses a vaccine if it meets the required standards of safety and effectiveness.

The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through all the usual steps needed to develop a safe and effective vaccine. But the work to develop them has moved much faster than usual. This is because they have gone through all their development phases at the same time, not one after the other. This was done to make them available as soon as possible.

If you have a Personal Assistant or care service, consider having a discussion with them or your healthcare workers about the vaccine. It may put your mind at ease to know that they have been or will be vaccinated.

Find out more about immunity by clicking here.

Types of Vaccine:

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

Click here for the easy read guide to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Ireland by the EMA is the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Its official name is "Comirnaty".

It is an mRNA vaccine. This means it teaches your body how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response, without using the live virus that causes COVID-19.

After you get the vaccine, your body makes antibodies that help fight the infection if the real virus enters your body in the future.

Trials have shown that the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine is 95% efficacious. This means that 95% of people who got this vaccine in the trial were protected from COVID-19.

Does the vaccine contain latex?

Pfizer have confirmed that latex is not used at all in the raw materials used to produce their vaccine. The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccination is supplied in vials that have a stopper made from Bromobutyl. This is a synthetic form of rubber which does not contain any dry natural rubber (latex). Find out more by clicking here.

Moderna have stated that their vaccine does not contain latex. You can read the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet by clicking here.

Please contact your GP if you have any concerns.

Safety of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

This vaccine has gone through all the usual steps needed to develop and approve a safe and effective vaccine. It was developed in line with international standards of safety.

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) has:

  • Been tested with thousands of people as part of clinical trials
  • Met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness
  • Been approved and licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA)

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and the US have been given the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Ingredients of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain eggs, preservatives or latex.

For a full list of ingredients, read the patient information leaflet by clicking here.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The first shipment of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Ireland on Tuesday, 12 January 2021.

A spokesperson for the HSE confirmed that they had received the first 3,600 doses of the vaccine, approved for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the previous week and were “hopeful of increased deliveries in weeks to come”. Source: Irish Times

The HSE will provide further updates on the rollout of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.

Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild to moderate and short-term. Not everyone gets side effects.

Common side effects after the COVID-19 vaccine

After the COVID-19 vaccine, more than 1 in 10 people may experience:

  • Tenderness, swelling or redness in your arm where you have had the vaccine injection
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above)

These side effects happen less often in people aged 65 and older. If you are concerned about side effects, please phone your GP for advice.

Fever after the COVID-19 vaccine

It’s common to develop a fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) after a vaccination. This usually happens within 2 days (48 hours) of getting the vaccine. It usually goes away within 2 days.

You are more likely to get a fever after your second dose of the vaccine.

If you feel uncomfortable, take paracetamol or ibuprofen following the instructions on the box or leaflet. Do not take ibuprofen if you are pregnant.

If your fever starts more than 2 days after you get the vaccine, or lasts longer than 2 days, you should self-isolate (stay in your room). Phone your GP to arrange a COVID-19 test.

Rare side effects after the COVID-19 vaccine

After the COVID-19 vaccine, more than 1 in 1,000 people may develop:

  • Itchiness where the vaccine was given
  • Swelling of the lymph glands
  • Sleeplessness

More than 1 in 10,000 people may develop Bell’s palsy.

Serious side effects after the COVID-19 vaccine

Serious side effects to vaccines, like an allergic reaction, are extremely rare. These are seen in approximately 1 in a million people for all vaccines.

Your vaccinator is trained to treat any serious allergic reactions.

You can find out more about the side effects by clicking here.

Sources: 2021. COVID-19 Vaccine. [online] Available at: