You may be one of the 32 million people in the UK who have already received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination. Or you may still feel a sense of uncertainty.
Here at Medacs Healthcare, we understand there are so many questions and myths flying around about the vaccine. Is it safe to have? What are the side effects? What does the vaccine contain? Does the vaccine affect fertility?
We decided to hold some Covid-19 Vaccination discussion sessions for our care workers and staff in partnership with AKD Solutions to stimulate conversations and enable individuals to make an informed decision about the vaccination.
The sessions were run by Maureen Obatomi - a Leadership Coach and Trainer with AKD Solutions who also has a specialist background as a Pharmacist. Maureen has extensive professional experience within NHS healthcare, making her ideally placed to lead the discussions.
How were the sessions run?
“The sessions were run via Skype. This gave easy access to everyone who wanted to attend. It was really important to me that these sessions were interactive conversations, and not simply just me talking. At AKD Solutions, we believe in the power of conversation to stimulate new thinking and change. We wanted to create a safe space, so participants felt comfortable talking about their experiences and worries.
“We set a clear agenda covering topics areas including; Introducing the Covid-19 vaccine; What are the main worries about taking the vaccine; What are the contents of the vaccine; The potential side effects; What additional information is needed that would help make an informed decision about having the vaccination.”
Introducing the Vaccine
What is the vaccine made of?
For Maureen, it was important to include a list of the ingredients within the vaccine, as she explains, “Across all communities, there is a level of mistrust of information. It was important for me to share with the group, what the factual contents of the vaccine are, and to dispel some of the rumours circulating within communities and on social media. Rather than simply providing a list in response to a question, I wanted to challenge the participants to consider what would be the reason / benefit for including certain rumoured ingredients, such as animal products.”
What are the different types of vaccine?
“Talking about the need for a range of vaccines that can work for a diverse variety of people, such as different ages and ethnicities was a key part of these discussions. One type of vaccine might not be as effective for everyone.
“We also discussed concerns around the speed of developing vaccines for Covid-19 and if this has compromised safety. This was a really important point that was brought up, so we talked about the global pandemic, and how funding and resources were instantly available globally to help combat the virus.”
Who can have the vaccine?
During the discussions, there were several questions relating to pregnant women, and if it is safe for them to have the vaccine. Maureen clarifies, “The vaccine has not been tested on pregnant women which means there simply isn't enough clinical trial data at the moment to establish if there would be any harm to the foetus. Therefore it is better to be safe by advising pregnant women not to take it. However it has been certified as safe to use when breastfeeding."
“We then moved into a Q&A session. It was significant to me that the session was led by participants, and that I could answer as many questions and concerns as possible, to provide that desired information from a trusted source.”
Side Effects – what are they and how long do they last?
The side effects were another topic of conversation. A key reminder of the session was that the healthcare professionals doing the vaccinating are fully trained and have all the necessary equipment needed, should an extreme allergic reaction occur on-site.
One participant reported they had extreme fatigue, nausea and chills after their first dose, and that made her anxious about having the second dose of the vaccination. However further into the conversation it emerged that the participant had taken antibiotics and steroids to treat an infection prior to having the vaccine, both of which can weaken the strength of the body's natural immune system and therefore enhance the impact of side effects felt from the vaccine.
As Maureen explains "One key piece of information to remember is that it is important to always inform your vaccinator / doctor if you have recently been taking any other medication in the weeks leading up to the vaccine. Knowing this will help them determine whether they need to temporarily delay your vaccine dose so that you don't experience extreme side-effects."
“Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are also being constantly monitored through sources such as the Yellow Card Scheme which collects and monitors information on suspected safety concerns or incidents involving medicines, vaccines and medical devices.
“The scheme relies on voluntary reporting of suspected safety concerns or incidents by healthcare professions and members of the public (patients, users or carers) and provides evidence to continue to ensure safe and effective use. You can use this website to report any side effects that you experience as a result of taking the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The session ended with Maureen posing the questions, “Why do you think you need to take the vaccine? What would happen if you don’t take it? What else do you need to know that would help convince you to take the vaccine?”
One participant shared their story of their Nana contracting Covid-19 whilst in hospital and the distress of sitting with her whilst she deteriorated over a period of five days, eventually passing away.
Maureen explains, “This was a very emotional admission and was courageous to share with the group. It is so important that we recognise that the decisions made over whether we take the vaccination or not, have much wider implications than just our immediate family and friends. This is about protecting the wider population and helping the country, and the world, get back to some kind of normality, sooner rather than later.
“These discussion sessions were hopefully beneficial to the participants. There is a cultural mistrust in the government, but we are living in weird times and although the government has made mistakes, we are going in the right direction.”
If you have any questions you would like to ask about the vaccine, or the information contained within this article, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can contact Maureen directly by emailing her at email@example.com.
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