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Still Waiting To Get Your Covid Jab? GP Talks Through Common Vaccine Worries

Still Waiting To Get Your Covid Jab? GP Talks Through Common Vaccine Worries

Dr. Oge answers some of the most common questions around the Covid-19 vaccine for those thinking about booking an appointment.

It’s been almost a year and a half since the Covid-19 vaccine was first given out in the UK. Before that moment, life as we knew it was put on hold and the world was praying for a route back to normality. In December 2020, it arrived: the vaccine against Covid-19.

Although thousands of people rushed to get their jab, the vaccine’s speedy arrival caused some people to worry that it was a bit too quick. 

These initial worries around the vaccine were some that North London GP, Dr Oge Ilozue, not only understood but recognised. Working on the front line throughout the pandemic, Dr Oge also helped to run the London region vaccination roll out alongside her role as a GP.

With cases rising, Dr Oge is keen to stress that the vaccine, alongside preventative measures like mask wearing, ventilation and hand hygiene, is the best way to protect yourself and others from becoming seriously ill. It’s never too late to get your first dose, so it’s really important to get vaccinated now if you haven’t already.

Here, Dr Oge answers some of the most common questions around the Covid-19 vaccine for those thinking about booking an appointment.

Does the vaccine really work?

Since the end of 2020, the vaccines have been administered to millions of people across the world. So, we’ve got plenty of data showing the effectiveness of the vaccine and how it compares for those who are unvaccinated. 

Dr Oge tells us: “The level of protection is around 80% for 18 to 64 year olds and that’s protection against hospitalisation after you’ve had three doses. We also know that vaccine effectiveness is even higher among younger age groups.

“After two doses, your antibody levels go down, so that’s why the booster campaign was recommended. If you’ve just had two doses, even though that was considered ‘fully vaccinated’, it’s not, you really need the three doses at the moment and then some who are severely immunosuppressed need their fourth or some are even on their fifth doses.”

How was it developed so quickly?

Speaking of the ongoing pandemic, Dr Oge said: “It’s still a really scary time. There’s so much unknown, so much uncertainty, so it makes sense that people question how the vaccine was developed so fast. But you have to understand that this is a global pandemic and it has been affecting so many people and every aspect of life. Driving it forward was the political will, the global will, the economic will, as well as a health will, to get a solution to this problem.”

She explains that although it might seem like the vaccines were made quickly, the technology that has been used to create the vaccines has been developed and tested for years. It was being worked on for the ebola virus and is also currently used in some cancer treatments.

All vaccines trigger an immune response. But, unlike other vaccines, the Covid-19 vaccines don’t contain a weakened or dead virus. Instead, scientists have developed a new type of vaccine using mRNA which is essentially a code that tells the body to make a certain protein. This trains the immune system to be able to fight against the virus more effectively. 

The Covid-19 vaccines were made possible due to a huge global effort. But it wasn’t from a standing start, rather it was built on years and years of scientific research. 

Greater London Authority
Greater London Authority

Do young people really need to get vaccinated?

Dr Oge says: “There are still people being hospitalised [including young people]. Covid is not a benign infection. It’s much lower numbers but we know that if you’re not vaccinated, there’s more chance of admission. 

“Even if you’re young and healthy, you may still feel very unwell. And even if you’re okay with the initial infection, long covid is something we’re going to be treating for years and years to come.”

Long covid, meaning symptoms that persist for 12 weeks or even longer after the initial infection, can be seriously debilitating, even for young people. These symptoms aren’t limited to people who were seriously ill or hospitalised, either. For some, new symptoms can develop over time. This could be things like a cough, fatigue, breathlessness, a loss of smell or taste, problems with sleep, a low mood, brain fog and anxiety. 

The good news though is that emerging evidence shows that the vaccine reduces the risk of long covid. And, it’s not too late to come forward.

What are the real side effects? 

We’ve all heard tall tales about the potential impact of the vaccine. From planting microchips in our bodies, to changing our DNA, and becoming a beacon for 5G, Dr Oge has heard it all and she’s keen to clear up some of these myths around the side effects of Covid-19. She says: “Nothing is without risk, even taking paracetamol or aspirin, there are potential side effects. So, this vaccine is the same as any vaccine or medication.”

Common side effects include an achy arm, flu-like symptoms and aches and pains. There are some other rare side effects like allergic reactions and fainting which can be discussed in full with the health care professional when you go to get the vaccine. It’s worth keeping in mind too that contracting Covid itself can have similar and often even worse effects. So you’re staying at a higher risk by remaining unvaccinated.

Greater London Authority
Greater London Authority

What are the downsides of not getting the vaccine?

Apart from the risk of becoming unwell yourself, there’s also the risk of passing the virus on to vulnerable loved ones. Dr Oge says: “We all have grandparents, older relatives, people in our family, our friends and our communities that we care about, so there’s always that transmission factor as well. So, it’s about protecting ourselves first of all, but it’s also about protecting those around us.”

Travel is another way that people might be held back if they’ve not been vaccinated. Many countries aren’t letting in unvaccinated travellers, while others are imposing much stricter restrictions and testing. Dr Oge says: “If you want to live your best life and get on that plane. You may need to be vaccinated.”

How can I get the vaccine now?

There is an evergreen offer for the Covid-19 vaccine. So if you’re now ready to receive your first dose, it’s never too late to book.

Dr Oge says: “A lot of people wanted to just wait, get more information, take their time. That’s absolutely fine. If people feel that they’re now ready to proceed and have the vaccine, or they want to make that trip and that country’s not letting them in, whatever the reason, we will welcome you with open arms!”

“Even if you wanted to go to your vaccine hub and just talk. You don’t necessarily have to be jabbed. There are people there who are willing to give you any information you want, answer your questions. Try approaching your GP practice as they will be able to point you to the best person to give any advice.”

The vaccine is the best way you can protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and it’s never too late to come forward for your first, second or booster dose. The easiest way to book a vaccine is to visit the NHS website here.

To learn more, you can listen to the latest podcast episode here

Sponsored by: Greater London Authority

Featured Image Credit: Greater London Authority

Topics: Health