Four hesitant vaxxers explain why the changed their minds
Every adult in the country now needs to get a Covid-19 booster vaccine, because two doses does not give you enough protection against catching Omicron.
But don’t worry: if you haven’t had your first dose of the vaccine, it’s not too late to get it. It’s important that you have both jabs as well as the booster, because over time, the protection wanes.
It takes minutes to get your Covid-19 booster, but it can take much longer to recover from a Covid-19 infection – an estimated 1.3 million people are experiencing self-reported long Covid. Shortly after having the booster, though, you’re at least 85% less likely to end up in hospital than if you are unvaccinated.
Covid-19 remains highly infectious, so it’s more vital than ever for you to get vaccinated – and book your booster on the nhs.uk/covidvaccination website or find a local walk-in centre. Don’t take the risk. Get boosted now.
“I was worried about the effects on the baby, but I decided to have the vaccine”
Rhian Thompson, 32, from Hertfordshire was initially hesitant about getting the jab when she was pregnant last year, but changed her mind after doing careful research
“By the time it was my turn to get the vaccine I was pregnant with Finley, who’s now four months old. I felt quite nervous because I didn’t understand how scientists would know its impact on a foetus when it couldn’t possibly have been tested on someone pregnant through to having given birth because of the timelines.
“It was April and the world didn’t feel particularly scary then. We were coming into the summer and I felt quite confident that I could probably avoid situations and people. My daughter, Evie, 3, wasn’t in nursery. I work from home running my childrenswear business, Bibevie, and I could meet people outside. So I thought I could manage my risk until October, when my second baby was due.
“I came across information from Pregnant Then Screwed and they had an immunologist who specialises in pregnancy, Dr Victoria Male, who gave such clear advice.
“That gave me the confidence to go for it and I went to have my first vaccine in July. I was due to have my second in October, but coincidentally I went into early labour on that day.
“Although I was only single-jabbed when I gave birth, I’ve now had two vaccines and a booster. I caught Covid in December and I wouldn’t really have known I’d had it if it hadn’t come up on a lateral flow test. I was breastfeeding Finley and he didn’t catch it – and we’re both fine.”
“I was concerned about my fertility”
When a friend questioned the safety of the vaccine, Marianna Michael, 28, from Enfield, north London, began to wonder if it would affect her fertility
“I booked in to have my vaccine and mentioned it to a friend on the phone. She said, ‘Have you looked into it?’ Then she hit me with: ‘How do you know it won’t make you infertile?’ She said she’d heard there could be an issue.
“A small alarm bell rang in my head. I know I’ve always wanted at least one child by 35. For a few days that thought was in my mind. I know how much misinformation there is online so I was careful about what I read.
“Then I began to think how I’d lost my gran during Covid – I couldn’t see her or go to the funeral – and I’d lost a good job at the theatre because of lockdown. That was potentially a lot more important than what I could do in the future.
“So I decided that I’d take every moment as it comes and trust science and have the vaccine. There’s no evidence that it affects fertility. I’ve now had three jabs. And if I find I can’t have children in the future, I won’t blame the vaccine.”
Safe for pregnant women
Being pregnant can put you at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid, raising the chances of your baby being born prematurely, or even being stillborn. The Covid-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women and are recommended.
● There is no evidence to suggest the vaccine brings any harm to unborn babies.
● Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are recommended for pregnant women. Data from the US shows that more than 170,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated without any safety concerns.
● There is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccines affect fertility in males or in females.
● Between May and October last year, 96.3% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 were not jabbed.
● Pregnant women who get symptomatic Covid-19 are two to three times more likely to give birth prematurely.
● Severe illness due to Covid-19 in later pregnancy is more likely. Around one in five women who are hospitalised with the virus need to be delivered pre-term.
● Go to nhs.uk/covidvaccination. If you are In Scotland, visit nhsinform.scot/covid-19-vaccine. For Wales, visit gov.wales/get-your-covid-19-vaccination, and for Northern Ireland visit covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated.
“I’m scared of needles, but I know how important the vaccine is”
Christine Emelone’s fear of needles nearly stopped her from getting the jab. But the 21-year-old from Sheffield changed her mind when her mum explained the benefits
“I suffer from extreme trypanophobia, a strong aversion to blood or needles. Each time I find myself in this type of situation, I start to feel faint and my heart rate increases. Then, it drops rapidly, which sometimes causes fainting or severe headaches.
“Friends had told me they’d had side effects after the Covid vaccine like dizziness and shaking, so I put the idea of getting jabbed out of my mind. I was not interested. Then I thought about the sharpness of the needle, seeing blood and the injection which caused fear, panic and anxiety.
“I was determined not to get jabbed, but I took the courage to take it after my mother walked me through the risks of being unvaccinated. As a secretary for the NHS, she sees many people each day and understands the value of vaccines.
“She slowly explained why it is important for me to protect myself in this way as well as people close to me and I decided to have the vaccine.
“I would say to remember why you are doing this. It’s not just to keep yourself safe, but also your loved ones around you. Also, keep in mind that is a positive step towards immunity and helping your community.”
“The jab has allowed my world to open up”
Sam Perkins from East Leake, Leicestershire, has lived with motor neurone disease for two years and was initially hesitant about the Covid vaccine
“Lockdown was mentally really challenging. Being told you’ve only got potentially a couple of years to live because of MND, now here’s a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic – and now you can’t go out!
“I was pretty certain Covid would have finished me off, which meant we had to be really careful in terms of who came into the house in terms of care.
“When I was offered the vaccine, my first reaction was surely that there hasn’t been enough time to have developed it properly. Second, not many people have my condition and the set of symptoms I have, which compromise my respiratory system. Could they have tested it on people in my position enough to know that it’s safe?
“Once I’d got my head around it, I wanted it. I spoke to my clinical team in the hospital, who explained you have to balance your worries against the bigger risk of getting Covid without being vaccinated.
“I’ve had three jabs now and had zero side effects, apart from maybe a slight bit of soreness in my arm. It’s given me the confidence to go out. The jab has allowed my world to open up in terms of going to football and gigs. Those things I’ve always liked to do, I’ve been able to do and it’s a huge thing from a quality of life point of view.
“I’ve launched a charity https://standagainstmnd.com and now I’m vaccinated I can do more to raise funds. I’m planning on doing a triathlon in May and I’ll use it to raise as much awareness as possible.
“I cannot do the boat and the bike any more because the Covid-19 pandemic and MND has robbed me of that opportunity, which is sad, but the thought of still being able to cross the finish line and be surrounded by the people who helped me do it and be part of that atmosphere again, is just massive.”
Everyone aged 16 and over now needs to get a COVID-19 booster vaccine, because two doses does not give you enough protection against catching Omricon. To book yours and find out more visit nhs.uk/covidvaccination
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