Worried about the coronavirus vaccine? Dr Opat explains it’s safe and here’s why

Dr Jacob Opat, GP at Cranwich Road Surgery in Stamford Hill, Hackney, who has been a doctor for almost 20 years, here answers your most common questions on the vaccine.Dr Opat outside Cranwich Road surgery credit Hackney Council 200x300 - Worried about the coronavirus vaccine? Dr Opat explains it’s safe and here’s why

The coronavirus vaccines have been safely administered to over 150 million people from all different backgrounds across the world. They have all been through rigorous clinical trials, to the same standard as all other vaccines. If there had been safety concerns, these vaccines would not have been authorised for use in so many countries worldwide.

The fact is that coronavirus is a dangerous and deadly disease, having the vaccine is the best way to protect you from this virus, stopping you from ending up in the ICU, or worse. Some people, even young and healthy ones, are experiencing ongoing chronic post-COVID symptoms such as fatigue, aches and breathlessness; the vaccine will help prevent this too.

I was lucky enough as a front line health worker to receive my vaccine in December, and I want to make sure everyone is able to make the informed choice to get the vaccine and keep safe from this disease that has so tragically taken so many.

Will the vaccine work on the new coronavirus variant?

Thankfully, as has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation, all of the approved vaccines give strong protection against the risk of severe disease and death, no matter what the variant. Though there might be the need for some people to have a booster shot vaccination later this year.

Does the vaccine cause COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

Was the vaccine rushed?

The vaccines were produced in record time thanks to scientists and governments from across the world pooling vast resources and using previously designed technology. The approved vaccines have gone through rigorous clinical trials. Most importantly, even though many tens of millions of people have already been vaccinated, the rate of serious reactions are incredibly low.

Is there reliable evidence of long term impact of the vaccine?

COVID-19 is a variant of the SARS virus, before COVID-19 there have been years of research and development into SARS vaccines, of which the coronavirus vaccine is one type, so we can look at the research done on similar vaccines and how the vaccines work to confidently say that the vaccine wouldn’t cause long term side effects. The vaccine itself also does not remain in the body for long, and the side effects which are felt in the days following it being administered are actually from your body’s immune response to the vaccine.

Does the vaccine cause health problems like Bell’s Palsy?

There is no evidence that the vaccines cause Bell’s Palsy. Bell’s palsy is a weakness or paralysis of one side of the face which is usually temporary. It’s true that on the Moderna vaccine trial four people later got Bell’s palsy, but that doesn’t mean the vaccine caused it. The trials in which this occured included 38,000 participants; this is not more than we would expect to develop Bell’s palsy in a group of this size by chance and is consistent with the expected background rate in the general population.

Will the vaccine make you infertile?

No. The vaccine will not affect your reproductive system, there is no biologically plausible mechanism by which the vaccines would cause any impact on fertility.

Will my DNA be changed or stored on a database?

No. It is impossible for the vaccine to change your DNA and your DNA will not be taken or stored on a database as part of the vaccine roll out

Does the vaccine contain pork products?

No. None of the approved vaccines contain any animal products or human products.

Are there any side effects?

Like any medicine, including those you can buy over the counter, such an antihistamine, vaccines can have some side-effects. Most people won’t have side effects, but if you do these will be mild and only last around 24 hours.

Common side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • soreness where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • aches
  • feeling sick.

There’s currently no concern that any of the COVID-19 vaccines cause anything more serious.

I hope I have been able to answer some of the most common questions, but if you do have more concerns please do call your GP who will be able to answer them. Make sure you are using only reliable information from trusted sources like a doctor when you are considering information on the vaccines.

If you are in one of the vaccination priority groups you will be invited for a vaccination soon by the NHS. Please make sure you book your vaccination slot as soon as you are able. You can either book an appointment with your GP at a local vaccination centre, or call 119 or book on the NHS website to use a pharmacy vaccination site or one of the London mass vaccination sites.

Watch Dr Opat receive his coronavirus vaccination: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDZ6zd-DJV4