REFLECTIONS - 'Ask about the COVID-19 vaccine’
We held an online Q&A event for members of the public and local partners in Camden to engage with local GPs, representatives from Camden & Islington Public Health and North Central London CCG on the COVID-19 Vaccination in Camden on 16 February 2021.
The event was extremely popular as around 140 residents attended the event both via Zoom and by telephone. The objective of our event was to allow a platform for residents of Camden to share their concerns and get questions answered about the COVID-19 directly from the local experts.
- The event was accessible online and by phone.
- BSL translators were present for several attendees that are Deaf.
- Over 200 people registered to attend.
- Attendees found it highly informative.
- 1 in 5 people said they were more likely to get vaccinated as a result of attending the event.
Participants were asked to submit questions in advance. Eighty-five questions were submitted. This formed the basis for the questions asked at the event. Questions covered topics which included, but were not limited to safety, side-effects, details of the roll-out, availability, effectiveness, and access for Carers.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
The panel addressed the concerns of the attendees and encouraged residents to take the COVID-19 vaccine, if they are eligible, as it is safe to use and, is crucial to ending the pandemic.
Some important questions asked during the event were:
Q: I am nervous this vaccine was rushed. Can you explain how it was developed so quickly, and can you ensure is that it is safe, how do we know if it will have any long-term impact.
It's a question that we're hearing a lot from people and understandably so, and one thing we have to remember, is it hasn't been rushed. It has gone through all of the checks and balances and safety checks and has been approved by the MHRA which is the medicines regulator and it's gone through all of the bigger safety checks that any medicine goes through before it comes to market.
Q: What are the vaccines made of?
There are no pork, gelatine or animal blood or organisms of any kind in the vaccine. They are made in the lab, they are engineered in a laboratory, so there is no live ingredient in there.
Q: I had really bad side effects when I got the first dose. I had, chills, fever 39c, lump/pain around the jab, tingling, tinnitus, weak left hand. 1) Where to report these side effects? 2) is it safe for me to get a second dose?
Most of these side-effects are quite common with the vaccine and should resolve on their own in a day or two, but if there's anything uncomfortable, then you should seek advice through your GP or dial 119. You can also talk to the pharmacist or you can self-report, using the yellow card system which is available on the coronavirus government website here.
The doctors are confident about the limited side-effects of the vaccine as a huge number of vaccines have been given quite safely without any significant alerts coming.
Q: My wife and I are in our mid-80s and had our first those are the Pfizer vaccine on the 30th of December. But our appointment for a second dose was cancelled, which makes us concerned about when will we be contacted to share with you our second dose and how will second vaccinations be managed?
The panel confirmed that the WHO has endorsed the decision by the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers on deferring the second dose from 3 weeks to 12 weeks and the first dose provides excellent immunity for the community, so it is important that the eligible people do get their first dose to minimise their risk of COVID-19 infection and serious disease. Additionally, for many vaccines, an extended period between the first and the second dose does lead to a better immune response.
For the full recording and transcript of the event, please visit here.
We have been receiving feedback from many local people that they do not have enough information about the COVID-19 vaccine. Some have been worried about having to decide whether to take the vaccine and were unaware of who to approach to get their concerns addressed. Some also wanted to know where they can get accurate information to counter the misinformation circulating about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Q&A platform gave an opportunity to residents to put their questions directly by the experts and get accurate first-hand information to help them to make informed decisions.
RESPONSE FROM THE AUDIENCE
Post-event, we sent an evaluation survey to the attendees to gather their feedback on the event. We received many positive responses from the audience on the event, suggesting that such online forums are a useful mechanism in getting messages out into the community.
‘Many thanks for hosting/supporting the Covid Q&A session on Tuesday, it was really informative, very well put together and presented, the interaction questions were great.’
‘So informative and well-organised. Thank you so much to everyone for taking the time to do this. I have shared the recording to reassure people with fears and worries.’
‘As both a Camden Resident, ex NHS employee and now a Community Health Champion Volunteer I found the event extremely interesting and it was great to see that as at the date of the meeting 30,000 Camden residents have had their jab - Thank You.’
It was also promising to note that 8 out of 10 people shared information from the event with other people they know.
This was the third in a series of events organised by Healthwatch Camden since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, aimed at encouraging open dialogue between the residents of Camden and their NHS services.
After the event, some residents proposed some interesting ideas for future events which we will be considering further in the coming weeks.
Residents are being encouraged to sign up to get notifications on future events and opportunities. If you would like to stay updated on this session and all our future events and opportunities, please sign up for our mailing list.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our Chair, Dr Louise Jones, for hosting the event. We are also very grateful to all the panellists for making time to respond to a wide range of questions on the evening:
- Piers Simey, Acting Director of Public Health for Camden, Camden & Islington Public Health.
- Simon Wheatley, Assistant Director, Primary & Community Commissioning, Camden Directorate, North Central London CCG.
- Dr Ammara Hughes, Partner Bloomsbury Surgery and Clinical Director Central Camden PCN.
- Dr Archana Tina Agrawal, Museum Practice.
- Dr Frances Baawuah, Brondesbury Medical Centre.