‘It’s about protecting ourselves and our loved ones’
THIS is UK Government advice relating to England only.
As Covid vaccinations continue across the UK, we asked these experts to bust some jab myths.
Q. Is it risky to have the vaccine if I’m diabetic?
A. Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, says: “None of the studies on the vaccine have shown it has an adverse effect on people with diabetes, and when you consider they have a high risk of severe complications if they get Covid-19, Diabetes UK highly recommends that everyone is vaccinated. We have to do what we can to protect ourselves.
“As with any vaccine, it causes an inflammatory response in the body with a corresponding release of sugar by the liver. It’s perfectly natural and happens to everyone, but for people with diabetes it’s wise to pay extra attention to your blood sugar. If you’re worried, you can visit diabetes.org.uk for more information.”
Q. I’ve heard the Covid vaccine isn’t safe for black, Asian and minority ethnic people. Why should I take it?
A. Pastor Dr Temi Odejide, medical doctor and resident pastor of House on the Rock, London, says: “Getting vaccinated is not just for yourself – it’s to protect your community: your uncles, aunties, mothers, fathers, grandparents and children. There are a lot of conspiracy theories flying around social media about the vaccine, but you should always query any information that says, ‘Don’t do it.’ Where is the information coming from? And is the science behind it sound?
“Listen to credible sources– so, for example, people who have experience in the field of vaccination, or with a background in medicine, pharmacology, immunology or pharmaceuticals, especially those from your community – and let that inform your decision-making.”
Q. How much is known about the long-term side-effects, including the impact on fertility?
A. Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, says: “We can never be 100 per cent sure about what might happen in many years’ time. But as a doctor, I wouldn’t be giving this vaccine if I wasn’t completely confident in the work scientists have done to assure us it’s safe and effective. It’s been really robust, and this confidence also comes from knowing how other vaccines behave.
“If side-effects occur, they usually happen within 24 hours or a few weeks, rather than years down the line – and as we know, scientists have been testing the vaccines for months, and using them in the real world since December. There’s no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility, and there’s no good scientific reason why it should, either.”
Q. If I’ve already had Covid-19, why should I have the jab?
A. Dr Raghib, frontline doctor and senior clinical research associate at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, says: “It’s true that having had Covid-19 gives you a degree of protection, but the protection you get from a vaccine is higher, particularly after the second dose. It will also give you better protection against new variants.”
Q. I’m religious. Why should I put my faith in a vaccine, rather than in God?
A. Pastor Dr Temi says: “Taking the vaccine doesn’t negate your faith – you’re just doing what’s necessary, while having faith that your God and your religion are still very much at work. Medicine and vaccinations are not mutually exclusive to God. If anything, it’s God that’s allowed it – or, if you like, instigated us to be able to create it. So there’s nothing wrong with taking the vaccine.”
Q. How does it feel once you have had the vaccination?
A. Zena Forster, 65, from Newcastle upon Tyne, had previously suffered a stroke and a heart attack, and has had the vaccine. She says: “I was relieved to get vaccinated. I was absolutely champing at the bit to have mine, and I’m thrilled and delighted to have now had the vaccine.
“It’s about protecting yourself, but it’s also really important that we protect our families, our friends, our loved ones and our communities. I would feel terrible if I was responsible for passing on something that I had. It’s about protecting our communities.
“We can suppress the virus so much that we can get back to some kind of new normal. We cannot continue to have this ravaging our communities.”
Q. Are the vaccines effective against the new variants of Covid-19?
A. Dr Nikki says: “Everything we’ve seen so far says they probably are, to differing extents. But what we do know very clearly about the vaccines is that they protect you from hospitalisation and death, which is the key thing. You might get a mild illness, but you won’t end up being hospitalised and dying. Over time, all viruses change to the extent that we need new vaccines, just as we do every year for flu. Scientists at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency will be able to tweak the vaccines relatively quickly, so if we need regular vaccinations we will be able to do that.”
Q. I’m young and fit, so why do I need the vaccination?
A. Dr Raghib says: “While it’s true that the majority of people who die from Covid have been over 60, about half of those in intensive care are below that age – this isn’t a disease that only affects older people. Young people are equally at risk of long Covid, which can leave you with debilitating symptoms for weeks, even months, such as extreme tiredness, headaches and breathlessness.
“Another reason, more relevant for ethnic minorities and especially south Asians, is to reduce the risk of passing Covid on to relatives you live with. It’s important to get the vaccine as soon as you are offered it. The quicker we stop the virus spreading completely, the quicker we can go back to our normal lives.
“As a young person, you have the chance to protect your elderly relatives and the whole of society.”
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