Care workers and COVID-19 – busting the myths of vaccination

Flu and Covid-19 are unpredictable but there are strong indications we could be facing the threat of widely circulating flu, lower levels of natural immunity due to less exposure over the past two winters, and an increase in Covid-19 variants that can evade the immune response.  This combination poses a serious risk to our health, particularly for those in high-risk groups – like people with diabetes, Crohn’s, MS or those who are having cancer treatment.  The H3N2 flu strain can cause particularly severe illness. 

Many of the People We Support are vulnerable with conditions that put them at greater risk, so getting the flu vaccine and making sure you’re up to date with your Covid jabs is a sensible, potentially life-saving thing to do.

Care Talk magazine recently published the below conversation between a GP and a support worker. Their chat busts some common myths surrounding the Covid-19 vaccination which our Colleagues may find interesting. Please scroll down to read the full interview.

For more support on how to arrange your booster vaccination and guidance on boosters for the People We Support, visit our Vaccinations Support pages here.

Dr Adrian Hayter is a GP in Windsor and the NHS’s National Clinical Director for Older People and Integrated Person-Centred Care. His team have been visiting local care homes to ensure residents and staff are vaccinated.
Kelvin works in a care home and has had his COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. Here he talks to Dr Adrian Hayter about some of the questions raised by care home colleagues.

Kelvin: Does getting vaccinated stop me passing on COVID?
Dr Adrian Hayter: Residents in care homes live closely together and are supported by different health and care professionals. This means that many viral illnesses can spread rapidly in care homes. Vaccination provides the best defence against several respiratory illnesses including flu and COVID. Vaccinating staff and residents reduces the chances of people contracting COVID and therefore the chance it will spread. The primary course (usually the first two vaccinations) offers 80-90% protection from catching COVID. This reduces to around 50% after six months but increases again following a booster dose. When there are high rates in the community, unvaccinated staff who enter the home can transmit the virus to other staff and residents without knowing.

Kelvin: What if I – or the people I care for – get side-effects?
Dr Adrian Hayter: The vaccines have now been widely studied at a global level and the risk of side-effects is very low. Side-effects are usually mild and generally do not last for long. Most common are a sore arm from the injection, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy or feeling or being sick. More serious side-effects such as allergic reactions are very rare and the vaccine teams are well prepared to detect and deal with this kind of reaction with monitoring and medication.

Kelvin: Can I catch COVID from the vaccine? And if I do get vaccinated, can I pass anything on to those I care for?
Dr Adrian Hayter: You can’t catch or pass on COVID from being vaccinated. COVID vaccines are not live, meaning there’s no risk of catching COVID from the vaccine or of transmitting it to others.

Kelvin: What does the COVID vaccine contain?
I’m not sure if I can have it because of my religious beliefs.

Dr Adrian Hayter: There are a few different types of COVID vaccines. The ones used for the autumn booster are mainly next-generation bivalent vaccines designed to target new as well as original variants of COVID. The vaccine doesn’t contain any wheat, gelatine, egg or other animal products. It has been endorsed by many faith leaders as aligned with their values and containing ingredients which don’t contradict their religious beliefs.

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