So, the highly anticipated vaccine is here and going into people’s arms as we speak. We have two centres which local GPs have organised, one at Dawlish Community Hospital and the other in Sherborne House in Newton Abbot. Having seen the Newton Abbot centre at work, I was very impressed. Each week a list is compiled of those in the priority categories who are most in need and invitations are sent out.
That said, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The arrival of several vaccines is great news, but not a quick fix. GPs and vaccination centres have lists of over 80’s among the first in the queue for a vaccine. They are gradually working through their lists and contacting patients inviting them for a vaccine. Those who are the most vulnerable in that group are being prioritised. So, if someone younger than you has been vaccinated and you haven’t – you haven’t been missed –it is coming!
Over 80’s should have had their first vaccination by mid-February. Care home vaccination programmes are underway, and all residents and staff should be vaccinated by the end of next week. Our vaccination centres will be used to continue the Covid vaccine rollout across all age groups and of course for the second dose of the vaccine. Please note, there is no way to pay for early access to a vaccine, so do not be fooled by scammers looking to make money from innocent people.
I wanted to bust a few myths that I have seen on social media regarding the vaccine. Firstly, the Covid-19 vaccine was not rushed or insufficiently tested. No steps in the usual approval process were skipped, they were just performed quickly or simultaneously where possible. Our growing knowledge and ever-improving technology has made us better equipped than ever to get important medical products safely and quickly to patients. I have worked closely with the MHRA, our medicines regulatory body, who have taken every step to ensure the vaccine’s safety.
Some of the vaccine candidates use inactive versions of a virus. This triggers the immune system to produce antibodies that will help you to fight the Covid virus should you encounter it. The vaccine will not give you Covid.
Some of the Covid vaccine candidates use RNA technologies. Despite what has been said on social media, this introduction of mRNA into human cells does not change the DNA of the human cells and if these cells replicate, the mRNA would not be incorporated into the new cells’ genetic information. Scientists have been working on this type of vaccine for over three decades.
Allergic reactions to vaccinations are very rare. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, you will need to discuss the vaccine and its ingredients with your GP when it is your turn. Others may experience mild, short term side effects from receiving the vaccine such as fatigue, muscle aches, a headache, or a fever as with many other vaccines.
There have been concerns about the delay of the second dose. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine may be given between 3 to 12 weeks following the first, and the second of the AstraZeneca vaccine may be given between 4 to 12 weeks following the first. Therefore, a delay of up to 12 weeks should not be detrimental to protection.
In other news, Devon County Council is working at speed with partners to introduce community testing supporting existing testing. These rapid turnaround tests will be available to people without symptoms and will be available to both paid and unpaid carers amongst others. As we know, those with the virus do not always show symptoms. This is a very important and promising step for Devon.
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