With the imminent rollout of the covid-19 vaccination programme by the NHS, we were concerned that many members of the public remained skeptical or unsure about whether they should agree to accept the covid vaccination.
Therefore, in December, Healthwatch Milton Keynes hosted a presentation by Dr Tarlochan Grewal (Raj) PhD. to help the public gain a better understanding of vaccinations and the new technology behind the 2 (currently) NHS-approved covid vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTECH and AstraZeneca/Oxford University). The aim of the presentaion was to give the public the knowledge and information that will allow them to make an informed decision on whether to have the vaccination or not based on facts rather than rumors.
You can view a recording of the Covid Vaccination Myth Buster presentation below:
You can also download the Vaccination Myth Buster Slides by clicking the button below.
The Slide pack also includes additional information on the different types of COVID-19 testing methods - RT-PCT testing, lateral flow covid tests and testing for Covid-19 antibodies.
Following the Myth Buster presentation, Healthwatch members were free to ask questions regarding the vaccination, here are some of the Q&A following the presentation:
Q1: The Mayor of Milton Keynes asked if we could share the slides and in particular the Myth Busting section with the public and on the Mayor's social media content.
Q2: Can people who are immunosuppressed have the covid vaccine ?
A2: It is recommended that patients discuss this in detail with their GP/Nurse before taking the covid vaccine. Each vaccine from different pharmaceutical manufacturers will have different tolerance profiles. Many people with suppressed immune systems are usually unable to have "live" or "live-attenuated" vaccines (such as seasonal flu vaccinations). However, only the AstraZeneca /Oxford Uni uses a "live-attenuated" virus, the Pfizer/BioNTECH vaccine does not use any form of "live-attenuated" virus. Different vaccines will be better suited to different patients and this should be discussed with your GP/consultant prior to the vaccination.
Q3: I have an allergy to antibiotics and anaesthetics - can I still have the vaccine, is it safe? Will we get a choice of which vaccine we can have?
A2: It is strongly recommended that patients discuss this in detail with their GP/Nurse before taking the covid vaccine. Each vaccine from different pharmaceutical manufacturers will have different tolerance profiles. Vaccines from different manufacturers will be better suited to different patients, this should be discussed with your GP/consultant prior to the vaccination.
If there is no clinical indication that will determine which, if any, of the vaccines you can have safely (in consultation with your GP), then generally people will not have a choice of which vaccine they are offered. This will depend on supply of vaccines to the NHS. All the vaccines offered by the NHS will be safe and effective.
Q4: Why is the government not telling the public more about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Uni vaccine in reducing serious illness or death from covid? We hear numbers regarding effectiveness, but the key one is if the vaccines are effective in reducing death and/or serious illness due to covid.
A4. In Phase 3 clinical studies, both the Pfizer/BioNTECH and AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines showed a high effective reduction in cases of serious covid-related illness or death. The clinical data at this time indicated that Pfizer/BioNTECH showed a higher effective rate of reducing covid-19 infection (i.e covid-19 positive test following second dose of vaccine) compared to placebo group than the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine. However, both vaccines showed a similar reduction in serious covid-related illness and death.
The UK's independent medicine regulator (MHRA) will make a decision based on the best available clinical data from the trials to inform if the vaccines are both safe and effective.
Q5: Are there any benefits in using different combinations of different vaccines?
A5. There may be some benefits of using different combinations of vaccines, especially if the covid virus changes significantly. However, this approach is not currently recommended by the NHS / MHRA (except for some very exceptional clinical reasons). Usually, a new set of clinical trials would need to be undertaken to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of using different combinations of vaccines.
Q6: What about the rumors that say that the vaccines contain 5G chips that can control/track people?
A6: Some people have been watching far too many SciFi films! There is no evidence at all that the vaccines contain "chips" - current technology has not yet advanced to make this reality.