The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus and helps us to protect our ladies, gentlemen, loved ones and the wider community.
The vaccine has started to be rolled out to care home staff and our ladies and gentlemen. At the end of December our first group headed by Bridge, Burton and Trent’s Registered Manager, Fiona Gilbert went to be vaccinated, here is her story.
By Fiona Gilbert
It’s more important than ever to protect ourselves, the people we support and those we love. Yes, it is very unusual for someone in our profession to say it in that order, ourselves first! It feels wrong to even say that out loud, me first!! But right now, it must be that way, we must make sure we are protected first, that way we know our ladies, gentlemen and loved ones have the very best chance of staying healthy.
So, when we got the call from our local GP on Monday 21st December, to say we had just 10 places available for staff vaccinations. However, it went against the grain, I knew I had to be one of the first to volunteer. It wasn’t just that as the Home Manager I needed to make sure that I am here, it’s also that I cannot ask my team to do anything I would not do myself.
That afternoon Karen, our Matron, and I sat down and went through the staff consent forms and picked the other nine members of staff. We collected the required information the GP’s office needed, names and dates of birth for everyone to be vaccinated. We were fortunate and were given appointments for Christmas Eve from 4:15 pm at Burton Albion Ground.
Everything takes more time to organise at the moment, even just getting to a venue. We collected the staff into small groups for the drive and went at 15-minute intervals due to vaccinations’ timing.
Administering the Vaccine
When we arrived, were directed to parking spaces, and then headed to where we needed to queue. We were called in one at a time. They went through medical history, discussed allergies, etc. Then, the vaccine was administered.
After we were had to wait, they provided a heated gazebo and a free hot drink. This is because you have to wait for 15 minutes after you have had the vaccine to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to it. The staff at Burton Albion Ground were all really friendly and helpful and wished us all a Merry Christmas.
As far as I know, none of us had any side effects from the vaccine, other than the jab arm being a bit tender and a bit ‘heavy’, pretty much like the flu vaccine.
It is vitally important that we get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible to protect society’s most vulnerable and to stop this virus.
Coronavirus Myths, Rumours and Misinformation
Misinformation and rumours about the virus spread on social media quicker that the virus was spreading through the population back in April of 2020. There has been so much conflicting misinformation about covid 19 and advice about how to stay healthy that it has become overwhelming for everyone. It is hard to remember which advice came from a meme and has come from a reputable source like the World Health Organisation.
Unsurprisingly, this uncertainty about what information to believe has led to poor mental health, increased stress and further confusion about how to approach the problem, along with a mistrust of the sources who deliver information to us.
How can you spot a rumour?
When evaluating information, you find on social media or other outlets, it is important to follow these guidelines:
- Use trusted sources, such as official government or health care websites.
- Evaluate other information from the source, including links and sources, to see if it appears reliable.
- Search other credible resources to see if they are sharing similar information.
- Videos from discredited doctors on Youtube even if retweeted by a celebrity isn’t a reliable source.
Myth 1: I don’t have a cough or fever, so I don’t have the virus.
Symptoms are varied and not limited to coughs and fevers. We now know there are people who are carrying the virus but do not have any symptoms as well.
Myth 2: I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t have the virus.
Most people who get sick from the virus will only show symptoms approximately 5 days after being infected, but it can take up to 15 days in some cases.
One study found that during those initial 5 days (where people feel completely fine), is when the highest amount of viral shedding likely occurs, which is when infectious particles from the virus spread from one person to another. Young children might not be as vulnerable to the virus, but they may be an important source of transmission, as a study published in Nature Medicine and another study in China both found that children without symptoms were still highly infectious.
In reality, we do not know how many people might be completely asymptomatic (meaning, without symptoms) while carrying the virus.
This is why it’s so important to isolate yourself for at least 10 days, if there’s any possibility that you might have been exposed, and why social distancing is essential for everyone (see myth #8 for more info).
It usually takes 5 days to start showing symptoms, but in some cases may take 10–15 days:
Myth 3: Coronavirus is just like the flu.
This myth was used to downplay the danger of the virus when it was first beginning to spread from Wuhan to Europe, along with rumours about the danger of the virus being blown out of proportion. It’s now very easy to say, without a doubt, that:
- Coronavirus is far more deadly than the flu, not just for older people, but for all people.
- Coronavirus has a much higher hospitalisation rate compared with the flu (19% vs. 2%).
- The duration of hospitalisation for coronavirus is approximately 10 days longer than the flu.
- Transmission rates of coronavirus (how quickly the infection spreads) are much higher than the flu.
- The flu has been around for over 100 years, so we built up an immunity to it. Despite this, thousands of people require flu vaccines every year because the influenza virus continuously mutates. In contrast, humans have no immunity to coronavirus, because it is a brand-new type of virus, making the whole population far more vulnerable.
- Due to all of the above, the risk that coronavirus poses to humans is far greater than the common flu.
Myth 4: I can only catch coronavirus directly from infected people.
Unfortunately, coronavirus can live easily on a range of surfaces for several days.
One peer-reviewed study found it could last on some surfaces, like plastic, for up to 9 days. However, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that the virus survived on surfaces for 17 days, after infected passengers disembarked from a cruise ship.
This is why disinfecting surfaces and washing your hands regularly is so important.
Luckily, a simple alcohol-based disinfectant is enough to deactivate the virus.
Myth 5: I’m young and have no health problems, so I’m not at risk.
Although being young and not having any underlying health problems means you do have a lower risk, young and healthy people are still very much vulnerable to the virus.
A review of over 500 US patients found that 20% of those aged 20 to 44 were hospitalised due to serious complications and 20% of deaths occurred in those aged between 20 to 64 years.
Pneumonia is one of the most common causes for hospitalisation in patients with coronavirus. Between 15–20 days of mechanical ventilation is typically required to assist breathing for those recovering from pneumonia. This means younger generations should seriously consider that simply contracting coronavirus could put a huge strain on an already overburdened healthcare system.
Furthermore, the risk of death is not simply down to older age.
Anyone with an underlying health condition is at an increased risk of death, even those with common conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic asthma and hypertension. Risk is also far higher for those with weakened immune systems, including people with autoimmune diseases and cancer patients.
It is impossible to be aware of all the health conditions of each person you interact with, so anyone who knowingly puts themselves at risk of contracting and passing on the virus is seriously jeopardising other people’s lives.
Myth 6: It would be better to let everyone catch the virus so that we become immune to it, even if it causes some deaths in the short term (Herd immunity)
Although this strategy (known as herd immunity) is not something that many people might admit to thinking, it is naturally on people’s minds when the current alternative we are facing includes widespread job losses, school closures, economic recession, and being confined in our own homes for an indefinite period of time.
To put things in perspective, if everyone caught the virus without any strategies in place to suppress it, this would lead to an enormous number of deaths, a devastated healthcare system and subsequent irreparable breakdown of society and the economy. A team of scientists at Imperial College London modelled what this would look like in the UK and predicted that it could lead to a quarter of a million deaths that would completely overwhelm the healthcare system for months.
In fact, all sectors would become overwhelmed if a large proportion of the workforce suddenly became ill around the same time (including the doctors and nurses who are meant to treat patients).
It would also prevent people from accessing healthcare, emergency services and even prescriptions for normal medical reasons, and people could begin dying from minor conditions such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, pregnancy complications, everyday accidents, bacterial infections and so on.
Instead of this scenario, governments are aiming to eventually achieve widespread immunity with vaccination. This way a large part of the population will become immunised in a controlled manner, drastically minimising the devastating potential of the virus.
Myth 7: 5G mobile networks cause or spread Covid.
Avoiding exposure to or use of 5G networks doesn’t prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. Viruses can’t travel on radio waves and mobile networks. The COVID-19 virus is spreading in many countries that lack 5G mobile networks.
Myth 8: You cannot have the vaccine if you are pregnant or are thinking of having children in the future.
You can get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are either pregnant or breastfeeding. An important reason is that COVID-19 is more severe during pregnancy. In a study of 23,000 pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported pregnant women were 3 and 2.9 times more likely to end up in the ICU or on mechanical ventilation, respectively.
There is no concern that the vaccines will interfere with lactation and no reason not to be vaccinated if you are breastfeeding.
The best thing to do is to speak to YOUR DOCTOR, social media and newspapers know nothing of your medical history. Your doctor will be able to give a much better assessment of the risks to you.
Myth 9: I cannot have the vaccine because of my religious beliefs.
Although some people in religious groups cluster and refuse vaccination, they are often actually claiming personal-belief exemptions and not true religious exemptions. There have been questions regarding regions and vaccines, below are examples of just some of the answers regions have given to this question.
- Catholics: While some people still believe that Catholics are opposed to some vaccines, the Catholic Church is clearly pro-vaccine. Even for the vaccines that some parents question, especially those for hepatitis A, rubella, and varicella, which are cultured in cells that were originally derived from aborted foetuses, the Church teaches that “if no safe, effective alternative vaccines exist, it is lawful to use these vaccines if danger to the health of children exists or to the health of the population as a whole.”
- Buddhism – Buddhism has no central authority that determines doctrine. Vaccination is widely accepted in predominantly Buddhist countries.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses: Although Jehovah’s Witnesses had a past opposition to vaccines, in 1952 they stated that vaccination “does not appear to us to be in violation of the everlasting covenant made with Noah, as set down in Genesis 9:4, nor contrary to God’s related commandment at Leviticus 17:10-14.”
- Muslims: Except for areas where polio is still endemic, several imams and other Islamic leaders issued clear statements and fatwas describing how immunization is consistent with Islamic principles.
- Hindus: None of the four major branches of Hinduism are opposed to vaccines and countries that are majority Hindu, including Nepal and India, have high vaccination rates.
- Jainism – Jains follow a path of non-violence toward all living beings including microscopic organisms. Jains do allow cooking, the use of soap and antibiotics, and vaccination, because this destruction of microorganisms, even though regretted, is necessary to protect other lives.
- Judaism – Judaism supports vaccination as an action to maintain health, and also as a parental responsibility to protect children against future infection. In Judaism, the concept of Pikuakh Nefesh, acting to save one’s own or another’s life, is a primary value. While some vaccines containing porcine-derived gelatin, Jewish scholars, agree that porcine gelatin in injectable form is acceptable.
- Mormon – The Church of the latter-day Saints supports vaccinations. “We urge members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protect their own children through immunization. Then they may wish to join other public-spirited citizens in efforts to eradicate ignorance and apathy that have caused the disturbingly low levels of childhood immunization.”
Disclaimer: These are examples and not an exhaustive list of all the religions of the world and their views on vaccines.
Covid 19 Vaccine Facts
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines that have been approved for use in the UK have been developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca. Each has met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the Independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety. Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
So far, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer-lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance
- if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people.
Advice if you’re of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding.
There is no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can be routinely offered the vaccine.
The JCVI has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you’re pregnant and:
- at high risk of getting coronavirus because of where you work.
- have a health condition that means you’re at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus.
You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re breastfeeding.
Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine with you.
You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.
The vaccine is being offered in some hospitals, some pharmacies and hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs.
It’s being given to:
- some people aged 80 and over who already have a hospital appointment in the next few weeks.
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers at high risk
You will also need to be registered with a GP surgery in England. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.
The vaccine will be offered more widely, and at other locations, as soon as possible.
The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).