Why are vaccines important?
Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves, our children and the people we love and care for against ill health. Worldwide, vaccines prevent up to 3 million deaths every year.
Since vaccines were introduced in the UK, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus that used to kill or disable millions of people are either gone or seen very rarely. Other diseases like measles and diphtheria have been reduced by up to 99.9% since their vaccines were introduced.
However, if people stop having vaccines, it’s possible for infectious diseases to quickly spread again. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the biggest threats to global health.
Fortunately, most people do get vaccinated when they have the opportunity. For example, 85% of children worldwide are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, (whooping cough), and in 125 countries this figure is 90%.
Vaccinating to protect healthcare workers
Vaccinating people who work in healthcare is not new. For example, all frontline hospital staff in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are required to be vaccinated or have immunity checked for measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis B and chicken pox, and are requested to have an annual flu vaccine.
We recognise the vital role of care home staff. We want to ensure that you, and the people you care for, are protected through vaccination in the same way. That is why COVID-19 is now joining this list of diseases we need to protect our staff and those we care for from, and why vaccination against COVID-19 is required for your role.
Why should I have the Covid-19 vaccination?
Having two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine gives the best possible protection against hospitalisation from coronavirus infection and helps stop the virus from spreading. By having the vaccine, you are helping reduce the possibility of new coronavirus variants developing and protecting yourself, your loved ones and the vulnerable people you care for from the virus.
Up to the end of August 2021, nearly 133,000 people in the UK died within 28 days of a positive COVID test. Since the start of the vaccination programme, it is estimated that 106,000 deaths and over 24 million infections have been prevented.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
All vaccines contain ingredients that help your immune system make antibodies (proteins that fight off infection and disease). The COVID-19 has a spike protein on its surface that helps it enter human cells. The coronavirus vaccines help your body make antibodies that recognise this spike protein and can then fight off the virus. This means that if you choose to take a vaccine, you are less likely to get severely sick if you encounter the coronavirus.
Your body’s response to a vaccine is similar to when it encounters a natural infection, but it is safer to gain protection from a disease by having a vaccine because the vaccines do not contain a live virus and cannot cause disease. The vaccines cannot change your DNA.
Can I have the COVID-19 vaccination if I am pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby?
Yes. Healthcare professionals are urging those who are pregnant, trying to have a baby or breastfeeding to have the vaccine. There is no scientific process by which the vaccines could affect fertility and thousands of women have become pregnant following COVID-19 vaccination.
Although the overall risk from COVID-19 for pregnant women and their unborn babies is low, some women may become seriously unwell and need hospital treatment in later pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnant women who become seriously ill with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
The Pfizer (now called Comirnaty) and Moderna (now called Spikevax) vaccines are recommended for pregnant women in the UK because these vaccines have been given to over 140,000 pregnant women in the United States and the data has not raised any safety concerns. At least 62,000 thousand pregnant women in the UK have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, also without any immediate safety concerns. The vaccines do not contain living organisms that can multiply in the body, so they cannot infect an unborn baby in the womb.
Do I need to be registered with a GP to have my COVID-19 vaccination?
You do not need to be registered with a GP surgery, be documented or have an NHS number to have the COVID-19 vaccine. If you aren’t registered with a GP, you will have to attend a walk-in vaccination clinic as you will not be able to book an appointment using the National Booking Service. A full list of walk-in clinics in our area can be found at www.grabajab.net.
Does having the Covid-19 vaccination mean I can travel?
Being fully vaccinated means that you will be exempt from quarantine on arrival in many countries. You will need a COVID Pass to prove you have been vaccinated. You can get a COVID Pass using the NHS App, the online NHS COVID Pass service or by calling 119.
Before you travel abroad, you need to check the entry rules for the country you want to go to. For the latest information and advice on travel, please visit the Foreign Travel Advice section of the Government website.