Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

Jenny Walrond, NHS Devon CCCG Media and Publications manager

Why should I have the Covid-19 vaccine?

Around 9 in 10 adults in Devon have now had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Analysis by Public Health England suggests that the vaccination programme has prevented between 6.4m and 7.9m infections and 26-28,000 deaths in England alone.

NHS advice states that research has shown the vaccines:

  • significantly reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of getting symptoms of COVID-19
  • will help reduce your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

Long Covid can affect people of any age. Research is being carried out into whether the vaccine reduces the chances of developing Long Covid and/or eases the symptoms of Long Covid in existing patients.

Some countries currently require travellers to be vaccinated or show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test.  This situation regularly changes and it is best to check before booking any travel. Having the vaccine may make it easier for people to go abroad for work, holidays or to visit family.

Once you have had both doses of the vaccination you will be able to prove your vaccination status by getting the NHS Covid Pass.  It is available through the NHS app; which is free to download or online.  More information here:

NHS COVID Pass for events and travel – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Where can I find information in other languages?

NHS England has produced leaflets about Covid19

  • The government has published easy read leaflets on the Covid-19 vaccination, what to expect afterwards and information for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding in 21 languages.

Is it safe?

Each of the vaccines are tested on tens of thousands of people across the world. They are tested on both men and women, on people from different ethnic backgrounds, representative of the UK population and of all ages between 18-84.

Pfizer/BioNTech trials took place in the US, Europe, Turkey, South Africa and South America. Approximately 42% of global participants and 30% of U.S. participants had racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds

AstraZeneca trials took place in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. The non-white demographic in the UK trial was 7.1%. In the Brazil trial it was 31.4% and in South Africa it was 87%.

Vaccine safety monitoring is ensured at the national, regional, and global level.

Internationally WHO supports the set up of safety monitoring systems for COVID-19 vaccines in every country. WHO works with vaccine manufacturers, health officials and other partners to track safety concerns and potential side effects on an ongoing basis.

In the UK The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority approves vaccines for use. The MHRA is globally recognised for requiring the highest standards of safety, quality and effectiveness for any vaccine. It has responsibility in law to continuously evaluate all products on the UK market.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is an independent group of experts who advise the Government health departments in the four UK nations on immunisations and the prevention of infectious disease. They consider vaccine safety, efficacy and look at the impact and cost effectiveness of immunisation strategies.  The JCVI looks at data on the impact of a disease, data from clinical trials and modelled data, then advises on the best way to get these vaccines to the public.

Government advice states that:

  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on fertility or your chances of becoming pregnant.
  • COVID-19 vaccines offer pregnant women the best protection against COVID-19 disease which can be serious in later pregnancy for some women.
  • The JCVI has recommended that the vaccines can be received whilst breastfeeding.

What side effects may I get?

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

They can cause some side effects, but not everyone gets them.

Any side effects are usually mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

a sore arm from the injection

feeling tired

a headache

feeling achy

feeling or being sick

More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or blood clotting, are very rare.

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines side effects and safety

Which vaccine will I be offered?

All first doses being offered in Devon are now Pfizer or Moderna (mRNA vaccines).  Details of which vaccine are being offered are shown in advertising for walk in clinics.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology has been rigorously assessed for safety, and clinical trials have shown that mRNA vaccines provide a long-lasting immune response. mRNA vaccine technology has been studied for several decades, including in the contexts of Zika, rabies, and influenza vaccines. mRNA vaccines are not live virus vaccines and do not interfere with human DNA.

How can I get my vaccine? First and Second doses

You do not need an NHS number to book your vaccine in Devon.

You can book an appointment on the national booking system website or by phoning 119.

Details of walk in clinics can be found on NHS Devon CCG’s social media pages and at:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/our-work/south-west-covid-19-vaccination-centres/

If you have any problems accessing your vaccine you can contact the Devon Vaccine Support Team:

 d-ccg.devonvaccinationsupport@nhs.net

  • Please remember to dress appropriately for the weather, and it’s a good idea to bring a drink along with you
  • Please wear a face covering, unless you are exempt
  • You will need to provide your name and date of birth
  • You do not need to provide identification
  • When you arrive on the vaccination site one of our team of marshals will greet you and help you find your way for your vaccination

Second doses are given 8 weeks after the first.  You can book your second dose through the national booking service or visit a walk-in clinic offering the same vaccine as your first dose. 

If you are unable to attend a booked appointment please remember to cancel.

Pioneers inspiring generations

We are extremely proud and honoured to inform our members that two of our prominent Trustees (Prof Awadhesh Jha & Dr Sanjay Sharma) have been recognised as pioneers in their respective disciplines by the University of Plymouth.

I will not even try and summarise their pioneering work but please feel free to read in detail their considerable contributions and their respective journeys:

Prof Awadhesh Jha

Dr Sanjay Sharma

I will however attempt to emphasise the relative importance of such recognition within a modern multicultural British Society.

Recent research (Centre for Social Integration at Nuffield College, University of Oxford) points job seekers from minority ethnic groups had to send an average of 60% more applications to receive the same level of interest as those from majority groups. A number of factors contribute to such discrimination and some progress to overcome bias has been made. However, the report observes that the progress is far too little when compared with other studies carried out over the past 50 years. The latest NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard report suggests that 15% of ethnic minority staff in the health service experienced discrimination in the past 12 months, compared with 13.8% the previous year. Just under a fifth of the NHS workforce is from a black and ethnic minority background, yet the proportion in senior management positions is 6.9%. Progress has certainly been made as documented in the recently published report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities but the recommendations made in the report suggests that much more needs to be done.

The above references indicate the challenges in the preceding decades and despite these, we are now witnessing the recognition and celebration of contributions (like Prof Jha and Dr Sharma) made towards the betterment of the country and human race. We take immense pride as a diaspora that we do more than our fair share for the betterment of our local communities and the British Society as a whole. It is also reassuring to see that central and local governments are keen to work collaboratively to ensure a level playing field for each and every British citizen.

Awadhesh ji and Sanjay ji (as we address them traditionally), your recognition and achievement will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of aspiring scientists but you are also seen as exemplars of how to contribute towards community cohesion through voluntary work and action.

I felt inspired by you both when I joined SAaS and that feeling has not changed a bit.

You remind me of a famous quote by Steve Jobs “Stay hungry. Stay foolish”

Once more, heartiest congratulations on your success and keep up the good work.

Dr A Chatterjee

SAaS participates in £1.9M UKRI research project

man and woman sitting on sofa while looking at a tablet computer
Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

GOALD (Generating Older Active Lives Digitally) project the new work has been funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the healthy ageing challenge to ensure we all live healthier and more connected lives. This programme is providing a total of £9.5m across the UK for interdisciplinary academic-led teams to carry out research into social, behavioural and design aspects of healthy ageing. The programme aims to contribute to the challenge mission of ensuring people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035 while narrowing the gap between the richest and poorest by enhancing our understanding of the aspirations, preferences and needs of the ageing population.

crop friends stacking hands together
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The three-year project is a collaboration between the University of Stirling and the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology. The project partners with seven charities and community groups in the South West working with older people and younger participants living in the community, as well as residents from eight care homes in Cornwall. Over the course of the three-year project, the research team will record the different groups’ experiences of digital resources and assistive technologies and then share their findings with business partners – small to medium-sized enterprises – to develop new technologies, product ideas and test design concepts.

SAaS is delighted to be able to contribute to this very important development as part of the post-Covid recovery. Further information will follow in the next few months and will be coordinated by Dr Mahrukh Mirza and Dr Satish BK on behalf of SAaS.

Census 2021

The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. The next census takes place on Sunday 21 March 2021.

Your answers to the census questions will help organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services in your area, including transport, education and healthcare.

You can complete your census as soon as you receive your letter, but make sure you answer about your household as you expect it to be on Census Day. If you complete your census early and the number of people in your household changes, please let us know.

The census should take about 10 minutes for the household questions and 10 minutes per person.

What’s the Story Study – Serum Testing of Representative Youngsters

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust is researching a new way of surveying how well protected we are from infectious diseases by collecting blood samples from people who represent different groups across society. What happens in this study?

They are looking to enrol children and adults aged from birth to 19 years old.

  • There will be a single visit with a blood test. 
  • We will ask you some basic information including age, gender, vaccination history.
  • We will arrange to see you in a clinic at the Lind Research Centre, level 5, Derriford Hospital.
  • Participants seen in clinics will be offered £20 reimbursement in the form of a voucher for taking part in the study. If they are seen at home there will be no reimbursement.
  • Local anaesthetic skin cream would be used for children to reduce any discomfort from blood sampling
  • The whole appointment should take around 45 minutes.

Taking part in this research study is completely voluntary.  If you would like any further information please visit www.whatsthestory.org.uk or contact us by telephone on 01752 432447 or email on plh-tr.whatsthestory@nhs.net.

Register to trial

SAaS Youth Forum

We are exploring a proposal to set up a youth forum for the South Asian Society. A youth forum is an organisation run and developed by young people for young people. They exist to represent the views of young people at a community level, giving them the opportunity to have a voice, discuss relevant issues, engage with decision-makers and contribute to improving the lives of other young people within their communities.

The youth forum usually consists of members across age range of 11-18 years.

Youth Forum Benefits

  • develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • develop communication skills.
  • develop leadership skills.
  • develop organisational skills.
  • gain self-worth and inner strength to battle negative peer pressure.
  • develop winning attitudes
  • learning how to work with other young people.
  • build strong and lasting friendships.

The youth forum will strive to extend and expand on the core mission and activities of SAaS but with a new and independent outlook. This will also provide a route to represent in the regional youth parliaments improving integration and cohesion from a very young age while enhancing the overall contribution of SAaS towards the local communities.

Charity fundraising by SAaS youth

Continuing the efforts throughout this pandemic by the SAaS members, two young members of our community have raised over £1600

Sid

In the month of December, Sid Warrier trained and cycled 100 miles for supporting “Action for children” so he can help young children. Sid was interviewed by BBC Radio Devon. He said, “Over Xmas instead of asking my parents for presents, I would like to give something that can help the less fortunate children who need a safe place to live, healthy food to eat and can be cared for”. 

Swetha Pandy trained to complete a half-marathon raising money for St John Ambulance helping them to provide first aid training responding to their Emergency Appeal campaign for saving lives together. The weather was extremely harsh but that did not deter Swetha’s determination and she went ahead and completed the challenge.

Swetha

It is with this community spirit and effort from all parts of the society we will build a strong and cohesive future, overcoming the challenges posed by the Pandemic.

Virtual Annual Event 2020

The 2020 virtual annual cultural celebrations brought together the community at a very difficult time when social distancing and lockdown has been the norm. Despite the challenges, the event was as entertaining as in the previous years and was attended by over 130 remote attendees. The cultural event staged 16 colourful and heartwarming performances highlighting a wide variety of themes from South Asia.

The event was virtually graced by the Lord Mayor and Mayoress & Police and crime commissioner of Devon and Cornwall. Our sincere thanks to all the participants who were instrumental in making this event a huge success. We look forward to organising similar events in near future.  

Please see below a few “screen shots” from the virtual event.

Covid and me – BBC Reflection series

Members of our society are participating in a reflection series organised by BBC on their experiences during these difficult Covid times.

The series will run this week (Mon 30 Nov-Sun 6th Dec) each day at 7.20 am and might then be repeated at 8.50am too on the ‘BBC Radio Devon breakfast programme’

They could also be repeated later in the day. This is of course not guaranteed as sometimes breaking news comes in, or things need to be altered for timings, but those times mentioned above are definitely in the plan.

The plan is to broadcast all of the pieces (i.e. Monday through until Sunday) probably in the following order:

Dr. Mahrukh Mirza – Mon, 30th Nov

Dr. Surajit Sinha – Tue, 1st Dec

Ms. Ruby Arora – Wed, 2nd Dec 

Dr. Shagun Khera -Thu, 3rd Dec

Dr. Sarita Nesargi -Fri, 4th Dec

Ms. Rachna Mohan – Sat, 5th Dec

Dr. Vasant Raman – Sun 6th Dec