COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs

What is the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is a vaccine used to protect persons aged 18 years and older against serious illness caused by the COVID-19 virus.

Who should get this vaccine?

Persons 18 years or older.

Who should not get this vaccine?

Persons who are allergic to substances in the vaccine

Persons who are younger than 18 years (pending results of further studies)

There is limited data on the use of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine in the following groups:

  • Caution: Persons who have coagulation disorders or on anticoagulation therapy may have increased risk of bleeding after intramuscular injection.
  • Caution: Persons whose immune system does not work properly (immunodeficiency disorder.)
  • Caution: Persons who are taking medicines that weaken the immune system (steroids, immunosuppressants, chemotherapy)
  • Caution: Women who are pregnant
  • Caution: Women who are breastfeeding
  • Caution: Persons who experienced allergic reactions to previous vaccines

How effective is the vaccine?

Studies have shown that the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is between 63-82%, based on your current health conditions and age. The vaccine will reduce your risk of getting seriously ill from the COVID-19 virus.

How long does the vaccine protect me?

The duration of protection is not yet known. This is normal for a new vaccine, but studies are ongoing. The vaccine is known to prevent moderate to serious illness from COVID-19.

Can I take this vaccine if I am pregnant?

At this point, St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Health is advising that pregnant women do not take the vaccine at this time.

Can I take this vaccine if I am breastfeeding?

At this point, St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Health is advising that women who are breastfeeding do not take the vaccine at this time.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine currently in use meets the required standards of safety and effectiveness. This vaccine has been recommended by the World Health Organization for emergency use.

What are the side effects of this vaccine?

Like all medicines, this vaccine can cause side effects. It is important to note that not all persons will get side effects.  The majority of side effects are mild to moderate and usually go away within a few days after vaccination. Simple remedies such as paracetamol may be used to provide relief.

Very common (may affect more than 1 in 10 persons)

  • Tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching, swelling or bruising where the injection is given
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Feeling feverish or chills
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Joint pain or muscle ache

Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people)

  • Firmness at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Flu like symptoms – sore throat, runny nose, cough and chills (signs that the immune system doing its work)

Uncommon (may affect up to 1 in 100 people)

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Excessive sweating, itchy skin, rash

How do I report side effects?

After vaccination, you will be required to wait 15 minutes for observation. You will then be given an information card by the healthcare provider. After leaving the centre, if you have any side effects please call 311 or return to the health centre to make a report.

If your card is stolen or lost, please contact the Ministry of Health on either island at (869) 467-1146/1233 (St. Kitts) or (869) 469-5521 Ext 2035/2051/(869) 469-8010 (Nevis).

How do I know if I am having an allergic reaction?

Signs of an allergic reaction include rash, itching, difficulty breathing/shortness of breath and swelling of the face or tongue. Seek medical care immediately if you are having any of these signs or symptoms within 24-48 hours.

How does this vaccine work?

Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine helps your body to fight the virus by producing protective particles called antibodies. Within two (2) weeks of the first dose, the immune response kicks in, then after the second dose the immune response is boosted even more.

Can I catch COVID-19 from taking the vaccine?

None of the ingredients in the vaccine can cause COVID-19.

What are the ingredients in this vaccine?

  • Recombinant replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus vector encoding the SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein. Produced in genetically modified human embryonic kidney 293 cells
  • L-Histidine
  • L-Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate
  • Magnesium chloride hexahydrate
  • Polysorbate 80
  • Ethanol
  • Sucrose
  • Sodium chloride
  • Disodium edetate dihydrate
  • Sterile water

This vaccine does not contain any preservatives

How is the vaccine given?

The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is given as two separate doses.

Each dose is injected into the upper arm muscle near the shoulder.

The second dose can be given 10 weeks after the first dose.

Your healthcare provider will let you know when you are scheduled for your second dose.

If Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine was given as the first injection, the second injection must be Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine and not another vaccine in order to complete the vaccination process.

What should I expect when I go to get my vaccine?

You will be required to wear a mask and follow all COVID-19 protocols including social distancing and hand hygiene.

You may be asked some information about your medical history to ensure that the vaccine is safe for you. PLEASE BE HONEST about medical conditions, past allergic reactions and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Your upper arm will be cleaned with an alcohol swab. You will then be given an injection into your upper arm.

You will be given a card with information on how to report side effects.

What if I miss my second dose?

If you miss your scheduled appointment, contact your healthcare provider for advice on when you can return. It is important to return for the second dose so that you can complete the vaccination process.

How much will it cost for me to get the vaccine?

The vaccine will be provided at no cost to the general public.

Do I still need the vaccine if I have recovered from COVID-19?

Yes. Even if you already had COVID-19, you may still get it again, but this rarely happens. If you do get it again, the vaccine can reduce the seriousness of the symptoms. Persons who have recovered from COVID-19 may have immunity up to six (6) months, therefore, they may delay their vaccination for up to six months to allow for other persons who need the vaccine more urgently to get priority.

Who will be vaccinated first?

Healthcare workers, frontline workers along the corridor of containment and those with more than one chronic disease will receive the vaccine first.

Does this vaccine work against the new variants of COVID-19?

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE)on Immunization currently recommends the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine even if virus variants are present in a country.

Does the vaccine prevent me from getting COVID-19?

The purpose of the vaccine is to make your immune system produce antibodies which can quickly and efficiently reduce the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, it does not prevent someone from getting infected with COVID-19, it will allow for the symptoms to be far milder than with an unvaccinated person. This will allow for a quicker recovery time from illness, and much better overall outcomes.

After I get the vaccine, will I be able to travel without quarantine?

No. At this time, travel restrictions continue in St. Kitts & Nevis. Persons are required to present evidence of a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hrs of travel to St. Kitts-Nevis and undergo a quarantine period of 14 days.  As more and more persons become vaccinated and experts continue to study the outcomes of vaccination, there may be new developments within the travel industry.


Resources for more information about COVID-19 Vaccines: