COVID-19 Vaccines Facts & Fiction
We began the New Year with a bright hope that we have a good chance of controlling this dreadful virus called COVID-19. The vaccine is the best shot we have at this uphill task. However, some challenges heralded the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine such that it was not embraced by all as a positive intervention. Different information became freely available which confused the public even more.
A recent survey reported by Sky news tells us only 28% of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community agreed to have the covid-19 jab. This low uptake within the BAME community will further put the BAME at risk, already we know the BAME community have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the morbidity and mortality rate has been higher in this group of people. I feel by discussing briefly here and answering the numerous questions I have been asked by friends, family and clients it might go a long way to dispel the myths and reinforce the facts concerning these new vaccines.
How did we get here?
Let’s go back a little history lane. There was the biblical Plague of Egypt. History has also reported pandemics as far as the 2nd century;
- The Antonine Plague, described as similar to smallpox, may have killed as much as ten percent of the Roman population over a 23-year period in the late second century of 165 to 180 AD.
- The Justinian Plague claimed the lives of tens of millions of people in the 540s,
- The Bubonic Plague or the Black Death was one of the first formally recorded and well-documented pandemic. It was the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history. The Black Death pandemic resulted in the deaths of up to 75–200 million people worldwide.
- The more recent one is the Spanish flu from February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a third of the world’s population at the time – in four successive waves.
Why this history?
At those historical times, there was nothing like vaccination, science had not evolved as much then so the disease was left to ravish human beings, resulting in deaths. Natural herd immunity would eventually happen to control and eventually eliminate the disease as was the case with the Spanish flu. However, for that to happen a large number of people worldwide had to be infected and too many people died as a result.
This is what the present covid -19 vaccine is trying to achieve, provide artificially induced and rapid herd immunity to prevent continuous spread of the covid-19 virus and continuous deaths.
Herd immunity is resistance to the spread of an infectious disease within a population that is based on pre-existing immunity of a high proportion of individuals as a result of previous infection or vaccination.
What are Vaccines?
A substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.
Can we reach herd immunity against COVID-19 through natural infections?
Attempts to reach herd immunity through exposing people to a virus are scientifically problematic and unethical. Letting COVID-19 spread through populations, of any age or health status will lead to unnecessary infections, suffering and death.
We have two vaccines licensed for use in the UK –
The Pfizer ( BioNTech ) vaccine and the Oxford ( Astra Zeneca) Vaccine. They do not contain the covid -19 virus. The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine and the Oxford vaccine is a DNA vaccine.
How Pfizer Vaccine works:
How the Oxford Vaccine works:
Your questions answered:
The Covid-19 vaccine is an injection. You will need 2 injections of the vaccine, which will be up to 3 to 12 weeks apart. The vaccine has been tested to make sure it is safe.
Who should have the Coronavirus vaccines?
- The findings from the clinical trials show that the COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective for people across all subgroups. These include racial and ethnic minorities, but the focus, for now, is for people who are more likely to get poorly such as :
- People living in a care home for the elderly.
- People aged 65 years and over.
- Adults with Down’s syndrome.
- People with underlying medical problems of kidney, liver, heart, brain, or those with serious breathing problems like asthma (use of steroid inhaler often).
- If you are in any of the categories above, your main carer is able to get the vaccine.
- If you are a paid care worker for a vulnerable person, you will also be able to get the vaccine.
Health and social care staff will also be able to get the vaccine though there is a queue at present due to the large number to be vaccinated.
What if I had Covid-19 infection in the past?
You can take the vaccines if you have had covid -19 infection in the past.
How long will the vaccine take to work?
It can take a few weeks for the vaccine to protect you
Does the vaccine work for everyone?
The vaccine doesn’t completely stop everyone getting Coronavirus, but if you do still catch Coronavirus it shouldn’t make you as poorly if you’ve had the vaccine.
Is the Vaccine safe for children?
Children were not included in any of the coronavirus vaccine clinical trials. Neither were pregnant women. Work has started with regards to studying the vaccine in children ages 12 to 18. However, there haven’t been any studies on younger children.
If you have serious allergies, you should check with your doctor if it is safe for you to get the vaccine. You might have a serious allergy if you carry an epipen.
Pregnant or think you may be or breastfeeding?
Talk to your GP about it.
Side effects of the vaccine
- Your arm feeling heavy or sore where you had the injection
- Feeling achy or like you’ve got the flu
- Having a headache
- Feeling tired
- If you feel feverish (like you’re very hot or very cold) you should:
- Take some paracetamol and rest. You should feel better within a week.
You cannot catch Covid-19 infection from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught the virus and not realise until after your vaccination appointment.
I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the Coronavirus vaccine as well?
Yes, and you should wait sometime after you’ve had your flu vaccine before you get the Coronavirus vaccine.
What should I do if I am not well when it is my appointment?
If you are not feeling well, wait to have your vaccine when you feel better.
After taking the vaccine do I still need to be cautious:
Yes, you still need to follow the face space and hands prevention triad and follow the current guidance. We will still need to wear masks or face coverings and maintain social distancing for the foreseeable future. We can stop these measures when we achieve some level of herd immunity. That’s going to take at least 70% of the population to be immune.
Can I still spread COVID -19 after I am vaccinated?
Trials tested whether their vaccines prevented their participants from getting sick, not whether it prevented them from passing on the virus to others. That’s why health experts say people who were vaccinated should still wear masks and socially distance. It’s also why public health experts hope at least 70% of the population will get vaccinated to reach herd immunity where the Covid – 19 virus’s transmission will be reduced to the barest minimum. Then, we can start thinking of doing away with the face masks. This, however, is still a long time away.
Facts negating the Fiction about the Covid-19 Vaccine:
- You cannot test positive because of the vaccines because there is no part of the virus in either vaccine. You will test positive for antibodies because your body will have built them up as part of your immune response due to the vaccine, and that’s a good thing.
- The vaccines are safe and went through full review by the experts. No safeguards were sacrificed or compromised.
- The vaccines will not change your DNA.
- There is nothing in either vaccine that could affect anyone’s genetic makeup.
- There is no microchip and no tracking device of any kind in either vaccine.
- Immunity from the vaccines is far safer than natural immunity. Whilst it is true that for many diseases, immunity acquired naturally often lasts longer than immunity from a vaccine but that means you have to suffer, and survive, the disease to have such a chance. The illness and death rate from trialling this method of natural immunity as with the previous pandemics is simply unacceptable with our current scientific advances.
- There is no evidence at all that they have any adverse effect on fertility
I hope this information helps, I will be happy to answer more questions .
Keep safe, keep well. Get your jab.
References: NHS UK, Gov.uk, Biblical archaeological society, History.com, UCDAVIS Health