Well, it’s official. The covid-19 vaccine is finally here and being rolled out. At the time of writing, there have been  4 million people vaccinated, and many more to come. 

However, there is still some scepticism around the vaccine. Theories, myths and conspiracies are flying all over the place, especially on social media. Yet, this vaccine is incredibly important to get us back to normality and save lives.

So, read on to learn (almost) everything there is to know about the Covid-19 vaccine. Including how it works, who can have it, and why the myths on social media could be false. 

Why do we even need a vaccine?

Vaccines are one of our best lines of defence when it comes to treating and preventing illnesses. 

As we have seen with Covid-19, trying to contain a virus is incredibly hard, which is why lockdowns and restrictions are necessary until vaccine numbers reach their required peak.

So, simply put; we need a vaccine because they stop and slow the rate of transmission between people. Vaccines generally provide necessary immunity for the population, thereby preventing people from catching a certain virus as frequently or virulently as would otherwise be the case.

The vaccine is essentially our best way back to normality with reduced casualties. This low level of transmission is absolutely vital to protect people’s lives, keep the NHS functioning and get our economy back on its feet.

How does the vaccine work?

Well, that largely depends on the vaccine you are given.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is an entirely new type of vaccine, and is a breakthrough for medical science in many ways (it could be used to cure cancer and AIDS). It is called an mRNA vaccine. This vaccine contains certain ‘messengers’ which tell our cells to produce Covid-19 proteins. Our body then kills these cells releasing the proteins. This then gives us the immunity we need.

The other vaccine is the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine. This acts in a very similar manner to the other two. It contains the virus that has been grown in a controlled lab and made ‘dead’, or non-harmful to us. Following vaccination, the body identifies the virus as a foreign invader and fights to kill it off. Furthermore, due to the presence of memory cells our bodies will be armed to fight the virus, should we come into contact with it again.

Neither of these vaccines actually give you Covid-19. Any feeling of illness is purely coincidental, a mild allergic reaction or your immune system waking up and building its defences.

Who can have it?

Pretty much everyone can have it, which is good to know.

People who are immunocompromised can have it because it does not contain the virus in a way that can harm them. Likewise, those with ethical concerns or religious and dietary requirements are also eligible as the vaccine doesn’t contain embryos, eggs or other animal derivatives.

For more information on who can/cannot have it, click here.

Busting vaccine myths

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the myths.

The first one is that it contains a tracking device. This comes from Bill Gates’ recent vaccine idea. His original idea described a vaccine that was in the shape and style of a plaster. This vaccine would contain lots of tiny micro-needles, which would inject the formula when applied to the skin over a number of days. It would also release tiny micro-crystal glass beads. These would last up to five years in the body, reflecting when a UV light was shone on them. 

Now, the micro-crystal beads are not tracking devices, according to Mr. Gates. Instead, they are a way of checking if people in Third World countries have had vaccines — which can be hard to do when technology is lacking. I realise that it’s easy to jump to conclusions, but this device is actually just another way of saving lives and helping others.

Next is the idea that the vaccine contains harmful chemicals. If you’re unsure of the ingredients in the vaccine, you can check this on the NHS website. However, some people are also worried that it contains ingredients which deplete your immune system. This suspicion developed after people started becoming unwell following a vaccine.

Now, you can of course feel unwell after having a vaccine, but this is not due to the ingredients in it. This is usually the result of your body building up its immunity from the pathogen. It’s true that a small number of people can become unwell from having a live vaccine, such as the MMR vaccine, but this is usually nothing to worry about. Bottom line, vaccines should not interfere with your daily life. If they do, contact a health provider.

Finally, the argument that it causes autism. This came about after Andrew Wakefield published his paper on the MMR jab, claiming that vaccines cause this condition. This obviously caused a lot of worry amongst parents.

However, other researchers were unable to reproduce his findings. A research paper conducted in 2010 found that Wakefield had undisclosed financial conflicts, acted against patients’ best interest, and was dishonest — having only tested 12 children. The argument now is that if a child is diagnosed with autism following a vaccine, chances are it always had it and would have had it, vaccine or not.  

So there you go. There is really no need to be panic-stricken about having a vaccine. The majority are perfectly safe for nearly all people.

But if you’re still unsure, or want to know more, check out the links below:

JCVI: Click here

NHS: Click here

Public Health England: Click here

World Health Organisation (WHO): Click here


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