Right now in the UK COVID-19 Vaccines are being rolled out. The vaccine is offered to people based on their priority group at the minute. However, the Government has stated that they aim to vaccinate 14 million of the most vulnerable people by the end of February. Our staff have now all been vaccinated to try beat the virus.
Will this end the Pandemic?
Effective vaccines are a vital part of ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Through vaccination, we can stop those most at-risk from getting the virus, meaning a reduction in hospitalisations and fewer deaths. However, a vaccine is not a ‘silver bullet’ and won’t stop the pandemic immediately.
It will take time and a continued combination of all the things we know help reduce spread. Such as social distancing and washing hands. A vaccine and a deeper understanding of the virus that only comes with time. Better treatments will help reduce deaths in hospitals. It’s very important to receive the vaccine regardless. This will help better your chances of not becoming ill from COVID-19.
What about COVID-19 variants?
We are continuing efforts to understand the effect of the variants on vaccine efficacy. There is currently no evidence to suggest that vaccines will be ineffective.
We know that the vaccines currently in use are likely to have at least 50% protection against the variant first identified in South Africa, which is very encouraging. This is equivalent to flu vaccination.
We will learn more about this as the population is studied in South Africa throughout their vaccination programme.
There are a number of studies taking place at the moment including an AstraZeneca trial taking place in South Africa and we will continue to monitor the situation.
Why are we now leaving up to 12 weeks between doses of the vaccine?
Both the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provide high levels of efficacy after the first dose. By giving as many people as possible the first dose of the vaccine, we are giving a greater number of people significant protection from the virus at a greater pace. This protects those who are most vulnerable and likely to suffer the worst effects of COVID-19. Simply put, every time we vaccinate someone for a second time, we are not vaccinating someone for the first time.
Why is it important to keep following the rules once you have been vaccinated?
The information we have so far on the vaccines in use are that they are highly effective, however they are not 100% effective, so there is still a chance you get infected with COVID-19, but it’s highly likely to be much less severe.
We don’t yet know if the vaccines stop you from passing the virus onto other, so while they will offer significant protection to the individual, you could still pass on COVID-19 to someone who has not been vaccinated. It is therefore important that even if you are vaccinated, you continue to follow the national guidelines to keep others safe and that if you are asked to or someone in your household has symptoms or tests positive, you still self-isolate.
What is the guidance on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people who have previously suffered allergic reactions?
Any person with a history of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction) to a vaccine, medicine or food should not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. A second dose should not be given to anyone who has experienced anaphylaxis following administration of the first dose of this vaccine.
Anaphylaxis is a known, although very rare, side effect with any vaccine. Most people will not get anaphylaxis and the benefits of protecting people against COVID-19 outweigh the risks.
Do the current vaccines contain pork products?
No, neither the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines contain pork products, so they should be suitable to people of various faiths.