Bedford health chiefs answer parents’ vaccine concerns at Covid Q&A session

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The Covid vaccine might not stop you from catching the virus – but its purpose is to prevent you from getting severely ill, attendees on a Q&A Zoom call were told.

Last night (Thursday, November 4), Bedford Borough Council hosted a webinar giving parents and carers of children aged 12-17 the opportunity to ask questions on the Covid-19 vaccine.

It was hosted by Dr Foyeke Tolani, a senior public health officer, and the advice was given by local GP, Dr Vijay Nayar, and Dr Ian Brown, the chief officer for public health at the Council.

One attendee asked why people who have been double vaccinated still get Covid.

Dr Vijay Nayar said: “Because the vaccine isn’t going to be 100 per cent effective. The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent you from getting severely ill from Covid, preventing you from going to hospital, and from dying, but it doesn’t prevent you from getting a milder illness.

“So if you are double vaccinated, hopefully you won’t catch it at all. But if you do catch it, it’s going to be a milder illness for you and it will reduce your chance of getting long-term consequences of that Covid, but it’s not 100 per cent, no vaccine is 100 per cent.

“This vaccine actually is more effective than many we’ve got, it’s certainly more effective than the flu vaccine we use every year, it’s a good vaccine, but it’s not going to be 100 per cent,” he added.

A follow-up question was why vaccinated people still need to wear face coverings.

Dr Ian Brown replied: “For the reasons that Dr Nayar has just explained, people who have had two doses of the vaccine can still catch Covid, they can still be infectious and they can still pass it on.

“I’m double-jabbed and I still wear my mask when I’m in indoor public spaces, I’m still being cautious, I’m still lateral flow testing when I’m meeting up with work colleagues, when I meet with family members who are outside my household.

“We have to think as a ‘vaccine plus’ strategy, so the vaccines are effective but they are not the only thing we need to do if you want to bring this pandemic to an end.”

Dr Nayar said that the case rates are highest with the children.

“So let’s get our children vaccinated,” he said.

“I understand that any parent giving anything to a child is going to be worried about that.

“So if there are specific instances, if your child for example, is underweight, or has epilepsy or screening for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and all those other things, please seek the advice of your GP, who can help you and guide you with that decision making.”

Dr Brown added: “I would encourage you all to talk to your children and young people about this and understand their concerns and how they feel about it.

“I hope that you’re able to make an informed decision together as a family.”

The attendees were told that it wasn’t possible to give a huge amount of detail in the answers given, but if they want to know more they can send an email to public.health@bedford.gov.uk.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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