Removing the myths around the Covid-19 vaccine

Online attendees of a webinar about the Covid-19 vaccine have been advised not to be fearful of having it to help bring down the death toll which has reached 100,000 in the UK.
BMA event

Mohammed Elsharif, community development officer, at Bristol City Council told a webinar of 500 people that there is “no us and them” and to trust our scientists.

He added that the vaccine was recommended by the British Islamic Medical Association, contained no animal products, and therefore was halal and safe. Position statement here https://britishima.org/pfizer-biontech-covid19-vaccine/

Latest figures suggest that a Black African male is 2 and a half times more likely to die of Covid-19 than his white counterparts.

The death toll for Covid-19 has now reached 100,000 and no-one has died of the vaccine, Dr Rajeka Lazarus, Principal Investigator for the COVID-19 vaccine trials for the West of England, told the webinar event. She also said the vaccine has been tested on different racial and age groups as well as some people with medical problems to ensure it was safe. (See breakdown of groups in picture below)

Myths are causing people not to have the vaccine

The webinar was organised by the Bristol Race Equality Covid-19 steering group to dispel many myths around the vaccine. Dr Lazarus refuted comments that it contained cells from aborted fetuses, animal products or a type of microchip to track people. She also said many people with allergies would be safe to have it even if they have reactions to foods. See the latest allergy advice on our website.

There were questions from the public about whether it was safe for people with autoimmune conditions. The answer from Dr Neil Kerfoot, a partner at Kingswood Health Centre, was that this vulnerable group was very much advised to have it and would be the next on the 'cohort list' to be invited to have the vaccine.

Covid vaccine Q and A - separating myths and facts.

Does it contain animal products? No it doesn't.

Does it contain any human cells such as from the foetus? No nothing like this is used.

The vaccine isn't safe as it's been rushed through and hasn't been tested properly? Dr Rajeka Lazarus, Principal Investigator for the COVID-19 vaccine trials in the South West, said vaccines had been developed for over 100 years and preparation had been made against a pandemic since 2014 and the start of the Ebola outbreak as well as viruses like SARS. A team in Bristol of 200 people (and other similar teams around the country) has been working virtually seven days a week on clinical trials since April 2020.

Only healthy British people have been tested not a diverse group of people.

Vaccine trials had been done on different ethnic groups and different ages as well as those with medical conditions such as heart disease and lung problems. See table below of different people who were tested.

Can you get Covid from the vaccine?

Dr Lazurus said it does not contain the live virus it just stimulates a localised response in the muscle so your body can fight Covid. 

It doesn't matter whether I get vaccinated?

Being vaccinated mean you and your family are protected and also means the virus transmission rates will fall in your community, so it is very important to have it.

The big pharmaceutical companies just want to make money from us don't they?

Dr Lazarus said yes the big companies would make money but the vaccination programme had also been funded from government grants and there wasn't any conspiracy among big corporations. The big pharma companies are also held to account with the possibility of having to pay out millions when things go wrong.

Can you get the vaccine if you have an auto-immune disease? Yes this is the next group that will be called to receive it.

Can you have it if you are pregnant? It is very likely to be safe but the trials haven't included pregnant women. If you are a key worker/at risk from the virus you should speak to your GP/midwife.

Can I choose whether I have the Pfizer or AstraZenica vaccine? Not usually as it depends on which supplies come into your local centre. However there might be reasons which make one more suitable if you have an allergy to a certain ingredient or you have an autoimmune disease and you are on biological therapy. If you really want a certain type it may be possible but could delay when you have it.

 

It's time to move on and trust our scientists there is no us and them. This is not a time to be hesitant - it's about life and death. Muslim scholars are backing this up - the vaccine is halal and safe."
— Mohammed Elsharif, community development officer, Bristol

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