The Coronavirus pandemic has been running for nearly a year now and has affected every one of us. For many, there have been bereavements and they are still grieving for the loss of family and friends.
The vaccination programme is starting. Without this there is the prospect of a third, fourth and fifth wave of cases etc. The cycle is unlikely to be broken without the Coronavirus vaccinations. It is ideal to have your flu vaccine also, if you are eligible and this is readily available at the present time.
Vaccines against Coronavirus have been developed much more quickly than others in the past but this does not mean that ‘corners have been cut’. There has been tremendous international cooperation and huge investment and manpower put into development of the vaccines and technological advances have also helped to make the process quicker. In the UK the regulatory authorities have been thoroughly studying and assessing the vaccination trials throughout their progress, enabling them to authorise the first vaccine quicker than in other countries. Once more are approved, Public Health UK will decide which of the different vaccines will be offered at any time.
Tens of thousands of people have been vaccinated in these trials and they have only suffered very mild side effects such as headache and soreness at the vaccination site. Two health workers have had allergic reactions (at the time of writing). We cannot have long term information on side effects but we do know that WITHOUT vaccination the risk of long term side effects of the Coronavirus infection in many people are unpleasant and debilitating. People with a history of severe allergic reactions are advised not to have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine but to wait for further vaccinations to become available.
The positive effects of vaccination will include allowing residents of care homes to have regular visits again from family and friends; people who have been ‘shielding’ will be able to go ‘out and about’ with more confidence and there should be a return to communal worship and simchot with larger numbers of attendees. These longed-for changes will not be immediate as 2 doses of the vaccination are needed and a further wait of around a week for the vaccine to properly take effect.
As with other vaccines, it is most likely that by being vaccinated you will be protecting not only yourself but also those people with whom you come into contact. The more people who are vaccinated the better should be the protection for the most vulnerable members of the community. We do not yet know how well the different Coronavirus vaccines reduce our likelihood of infecting other people but with previous vaccinations they have usually minimised re-infection.
For the time being we shall still be asked to continue social distancing, even after we have been vaccinated. For the best outcome with the vaccine, look after your general health: continue to exercise regularly, eat healthily and keep hydrated. With the start of the vaccination programme we all hope for a better year in 2021.
Dr Jackie Lewis (Rose) and Salford Healthy Communities
For further information follow Prof Alan Silman’s blog: www.makingsenseofcovid19withs.com