Blog post- Health Inequalities part 1 – Getting the COVID Vaccine or not?

“My vaccine protects you; your vaccine protects me.”

Meeting of 27th Feb 2021

On the 27th of February we discussed the health inequalities faced by ethnic minorities within the UK with more death rates and contraction rates amongst the ethnic minority group yet the take up for the vaccine was less for minority ethnic groups. During this discussion we had a guest speaker who is a public health community engagement officer for Redbridge council. She joined us to discuss the importance of vaccinating and to help bust the myths and fears surrounding the vaccine.

We learnt from the discussions the importance of vaccinating and the benefits it has on the community as a whole. We learnt that the vaccine has had multiple trials in different continents and tested on different groups of people, this allowed us to rest easy knowing the vaccine has had trials on ethnic minorities like us.

We were able to share our own stories and experiences of the fear mongering that goes on within our own social groups and communities. Having this discussion let us know the true facts around the vaccine.

Here are some of the questions we were able to ask our guest speaker, that we found informative and helpful.

coronavirus newspaper headline montage - coronavirus stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images
Getty Images

Why are ethnic minorities hesitant to get the vaccine?

There are a number of reasons this happens. The history of vaccination and the use of ethnic minorities to test vaccine on them to then give the vaccine to the white ethnic race has caused a lot of the ethnic minorities more particularly the older generations to not want to get vaccinated because of this impact. Having certain politicians make claims of trialling vaccines on ethnic minorities does not help in spreading awareness on the importance of vaccinating.

What vaccine is better?

Currently the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are being given. Both vaccines have an equal success rate, and both are effective. However, it is much easier to store the AstraZeneca vaccine compared to the Pfizer which makes such a difference in the availability of each vaccine.

Are vaccine ingredients list given?

Before going into going into the centre you can ask for a list of ingredients, it will be given to you. However, the ingredients are written in scientific term so unless you are a health care professional yourself it may be difficult to understand it.

Does this vaccine protect us from all strains as well as future strains as well?

Yes, this vaccine does protect us from current strains as well the new strains that were found in South Africa, Kent etc. However, it is unsure if this vaccine will protect us from future strains as the virus changes and mutates constantly. What could happen is a booster vaccine may be needed.

Are you told which vaccine you will be given?

When getting the vaccine, you will be told right before what vaccine you will be given. You cannot choose what vaccine you get.

What is the process of getting the vaccine?

You re first contacted by your GP via text, phone call or mail. You will be given a date, time slot and location to get the vaccine. You then go in on the day 10 minutes early. You will be given information about the vaccine and then assigned a medical professional to give you the injections. You will be given a card with the name of the vaccine given as well as an app card for your next vaccine. You then wait for 15 minutes and if all is well you can then go home.

hand injecting coronavirus globe with vaccination syringe - coronavirus vaccine stock illustrations
Getty Images

Can you turn up and be vaccinated?

No, you cannot turn up to be vaccinated. Wait to be contacted first by your GP. They may call you first or send you a letter.

Are children being vaccinated?

Currently the vaccine has not been deemed safe to be given to children. There is currently a trial going on testing on children.

Can I refuse getting my child getting tested at school?

Yes, you can. However, for the greater good and peace of mind get your children tested because they are going back to school and will be surrounded by other children it allows you to be safe and keep everyone around your child as well as your child safe.

If I want to test my children at home how can I do this?

The schools should contact you on how to do this if you would like to test your children at home.

Has the vaccine caused any deaths so far?

So far there has been no deaths caused by the vaccines which is an amazing outcome for this vaccine. As at April 2021 there have been reports of blood clots after taking the astrazeneca vaccine but there has been no direct link to the vaccine.

If I refuse the vaccine would it be made compulsory in the future?

No, it will not be made compulsory as it is against human rights. But there could be certain jobs that require you to be vaccinated in order to work e.g., care home workers. As a blanket policy public health England will not force you take the vaccine.

Normally vaccines are tested and tried for about 10-15 years, why has this vaccine been deemed safe a lot earlier?

COVID 19 is a very serious pandemic and has affected almost everyone around the world. As such this vaccine has had more funds, more experts help and more research and more international cooperation than any other vaccination has ever had. With modern medications and all the worlds resources being used to create a vaccine to stop the spread and allow the world to go back to normal it resulted in the vaccine to be made much quicker than normal.

Is the vaccine safe to take for people living with medical conditions such as HIV, cancer, immune compromised?

The vaccine is safe for people who have medical conditions such as HIV as well as people who are immune compromised for example having cancer and having other medical conditions such as diabetes. The only people who are unable to get the vaccine were those who are pregnant and those who have severe allergic reactions to the ingredients in the medication.

What is the time frame for a healthy person to get the vaccine?

For a healthy person, the time frame for the first dosage is expected to be between early to mid-July. Everyone who is healthy should latest have had their first dose by August. This could vary as it depends on vaccine supplies.

What about future side effects? What will happen if there are side effects in the future?

There has been no evidence showing future side effects as we are still in the early stages and can’t tell the future.  However booster dosages or yearly vaccination like the flu vaccine may be needed to keep up protection from the viruses mutation as well as keeping people safe. There is more research being done on this as of now this is not a major concern for now.

Does the vaccine conflict with certain medication?

There is currently no evidence showing if this vaccine causes reaction with other medications, therefore it could be said it is safe to get the vaccine whilst being on other medication.

What should you do if you do get serious side effect?

If you feel nauseas, vomiting and severe dehydration immediately call 999. Side effects may be felt although there have not been any cases of major side effect as of yet. A lot of individuals who have gotten the vaccine did feel minor side effects like pain on the injected sight, slight headache, and minor fever for a day or 2. These were all minor side effects that went away quite quickly or by taking pain killers e.g. paracetamol.

coronavirus covid-19 vaccination with world map in the background - coronavirus vaccine stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images
Getty Images

What about if I have no recourse to public funds? Can I get the vaccine? Will I be reported to the Home Office?

Everyone can get the vaccine for free in the UK and you do not have to be registered with a GP. Redbridge council has pop up vaccine centres in different locations within the Redbridge area. The aim of these pop up centres is to allow those with no recourse to public funds, marginalised or out of contact with society e.g., drug addicts homeless people etc to go and be given more information or to be even given the vaccine safely and confidentially.. The aim of this is to allow them to get vaccinated without being judged or having to have their information gathered.

What caused this chaos around the vaccine to happen?

The chaos was caused by the lack of communication and breakdown of information available. This led to wrong information to be spread. Having groups such as anti-vaxxers and people who do not believe in covid have spread their opinions causing a lack of correct information to be spread.

Old engraved illustration of a Medicinal plants : Stock Photo
Getty Images

Can I take herbal remedies to protect myself from COVID rather than getting the vaccine?

There is no evidence to say that herbal remedies work in protecting individuals from viruses. There is also little to no research or extensive testing/trials available to prove herbal remedies working. Using this approach does not prove if it will protect you from COVID 19.

What can we do as individuals to spread awareness about the importance of vaccinating and prevent fearmongering amongst our communities?

As individuals you could communicate with family members and friends and spread awareness of the importance of getting the vaccine as well as busting any myths or lies about the vaccine.

And finally, what is Redbridge Councils aim to prevent ethnic minorities from being affected as seriously as they were, with higher death rates and infected rates?

Redbridge council aims to have a focus on reducing the health inequalities. Currently a lotof the focus is in covid manage. We hope to increase the uptake of the vaccination as we would like people to come out of this situation, we are in at present. In the future we hope to look at better public health and community engagement. We currently have Mental health workshops funded by the council for the communities within Redbridge. We are also providing the reactive immediate support from aftereffects of COVID.

We also aim to put health inequalities in our health strategies to overcome this issue and understand how to deal with this better.

We were asked to share this information with our families and friends both at home in the UK and abroad so that fears can be set aside.

After this event I can confidently say that we were able to rest our minds from any worries about the vaccine as well as being able to know that the aim of taking the vaccine is to protect us a as individuals as my vaccine protects you and your vaccine protects me.

For more information see: