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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Should I or should I not take the Covid-19 vaccine?

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We’ve all heard alarming stories and myths when it comes to Covid-19 vaccine. But have you taken it upon yourself to do some research, and come up with validated information?

COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2. It was first identified in late 2019. It is very infectious and can lead to severe respiratory disease.

Many people who are infected may not have any symptoms or only have mild symptoms. These commonly start with cough, fever, headache and loss of taste or smell.

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Some people will feel very tired, have aching muscles, sore throat, diarrhoea and vomiting, fever and confusion. A small number of people then go on to have severe disease which may require hospitalisation or admission to intensive care.

Overall fewer than 1 in 100 people who are infected will die from COVID-19, but in those over 75 years of age this rises to 1 in 10.

There is no cure for COVID-19 although some newly tested treatments do help to reduce the risk of complications.

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About the types of vaccine

In The Gambia, there is only one type of COVID-19 vaccine i.e Oxford/Aztrazeneca (AZD1222). It requires two doses at least 2 months apart, to provide best protection.

Who should have the COVID-19 vaccines?

The WHO offers these vaccines first to those at highest risk of catching the infection and of suffering serious complications if they catch the infection.

This includes older adults, frontline health and social care workers, care home residents and staff, and those with certain clinical conditions. When more vaccine becomes available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible.

Am I at increased risk from COVID-19 infection?

Coronavirus can affect anyone. If you are an older adult and have a long-term health condition, COVID-19 can be very serious and, in some cases, fatal.

You should have the COVID-19 vaccine if you are:

∑          an adult living or working in a care home for the elderly

∑          a frontline healthcare worker

∑          a frontline social care worker

∑          a carer working in domiciliary care looking after older adults

∑          aged 65 years and over

∑          younger adults with long-term clinical conditions

The vaccine will also be offered to adults with conditions such as:

∑          a blood cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)

∑          diabetes

∑          dementia

∑          a heart problem

∑          a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema

∑          a kidney disease

∑          a liver disease

∑          lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as HIV infection, steroid txt)

∑          rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or psoriasis

∑          liver disease

∑          having had an organ transplant

∑          having had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

∑          a neurological or muscle wasting condition

∑          a severe or profound learning disability

∑          a problem with your spleen, e.g sickle cell disease, splenectomy etc

∑          are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)

∑          are severely mentally ill

All people who are in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Whether you are offered the vaccine may depend on the severity of your condition. Your doctor can advise on whether you are eligible.

Who cannot have the vaccine?

The vaccines do not contain living organisms, and so are safe for people with disorders of the immune system. These people may not respond so well to the vaccine. A very small number of people who are at risk of COVID-19 cannot have the vaccine – this includes people who have severe allergies to a component in the vaccine.

Women of childbearing age, those who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding should not take the vaccine just yet.

Will the vaccine protect me?

The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine.

The vaccine has been shown to be effective and no safety concerns were seen in studies of more than 20,000 people.

Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe. The vaccine aims at providing herd immunity to re-open economies again.

Will the vaccine have side effects?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. Although you may get some protection from the first dose, having the second dose will give you the best protection against the virus.

Very common side effects include:

∑          having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine

∑          feeling tired

∑          headache

∑          general aches, or mild flu like symptoms

Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for two to three days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection. You can rest and take the normal dose of paracetamol, 1g trice daily to help you feel better.

Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, call 1025.

Take your vaccine today. The life you save maybe your own.

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