Tobi Oredein 00:00
I think it'll be great for you to kind of just kick off who you are what you do, just so people know a little bit about you who aren't familiar with your work?
Dr Zoe Williams 00:09
Yeah, so first and foremost, I'm a GP working in the NHS. I work as a GP in Southwark in southeast London, and I work out of two practices, one's in Peckham and one's sort of near Elephant and Castle. And I do that part time, I also have a number of other interests outside of my clinical work. So I'm really passionate about lifestyle medicine. So I work with Public Health England, and the Royal College of GPs, they're sort of leadership roles in looking at ways, particularly around how we can encourage people to be more active. And then the other third bit of what I do is working in the media. So I work on This Morning, and I work on a BBC programme called Trust Me, I'm A Doctor, and then put out content on Instagram, etc. I also write a column for Fabulous magazine. So lots of things going on, keeps it interesting keeps me busy.
Tobi Oredein 01:07
It'd be great to kick off a conversation in terms of what's the purpose of this vaccine?
Dr Zoe Williams 01:11
Yeah, I mean, it's a really sensible question. And when I'm doing vaccinator clinics, it's always the first thing that we explain to people. And so the purpose of the vaccine – first and foremost, the main purpose of the vaccine is to protect the person who is having the vaccination against Covid 19. And that's the reason that the trials have looked at it predominantly looked at the impact on the person having the vaccine and its ability to reduce them getting the infection, but also reduce them having serious infection and reduce deaths. And that's the reason that the rollout was prioritise those most at risk first. So first and foremost, the purpose is, it helps your body build an immune response to one of the proteins that's on the virus, that if you ever actually then encounter the real virus, your immune system is primed and ready to deal with it very quickly. The second and third reasons and purpose for the vaccine is, then the added benefit that if you're vaccinated, it protects, also protects those close to you, so your family and your friends. And the third benefit is also protects the wider community. And originally, the research didn't look at transmission, or whether the vaccine prevented you transmitting the virus, that wasn't the primary aim. But now we're learning that it's highly likely that it does, we don't know to what extent. So being vaccinated also protects other people as well.
Tobi Oredein 02:40
So it protects you, it protects other people. That's the purpose of the vaccine.
Dr Zoe Williams 02:44
Tobi Oredein 02:45
Great. And now we've kind of started there, I think the one of the burning questions is, how come this vaccine has been approved so quickly? Erm you know, we know that vaccines can take decades to be approved. I think that's one of the reasons why a lot of people are a little bit, you know, hesitant. Why has this vaccine and how has it been approved so quickly?
Dr Zoe Williams 03:06
Yeah. So, again, there are a number of reasons. So we can almost break it down into two sections. So how has it actually been developed so quickly? And then how has it got through the approval process so quickly? So in terms of it being developed, this specific vaccine has obviously come around in about 10 months, which is rapid for a vaccine, but actually, for many, many years before that, already, a lot of work has been done around, we could call it disease X. We didn't know what the infectious disease will be. But we've kind of been preparing for many years for a pandemic, in fact, in 2009, when swine flu was quite prevalent, I think that accelerated a lot of processes as well. So gearing up to produce a vaccine on a large scale for a pandemic, which we've always thought would be a flu pandemic most likely, turns out to be a Coronavirus one. So there's that history. Also we have experienced Coronaviruses in the past, so SARS and MERS were both other types of Coronavirus. So again, there's a lot of research that was going on in developing vaccines for those. So that's kind of the history. But then actually, it's still very quick. 10 months is incredibly quick. But it kind of goes to show what happens when all of the resources, and that's financial resources but also scientists, laboratories, drug companies, all focused on one common goal, it shows what can be achieved. There's never been a time before where there's been such a need for a vaccine and so many people have diverted the attention to it. So that's another reason. Money's been thrown at it so often it can take years to get the financial approval for something like a vaccine production to go ahead, whereas governments have thrown money at this. So that's helped accelerate things as well. When it comes to research, there were there's been 10s of 1000s of people probably, well, hundreds of 1000s of people involved in the trials, and recruiting that number of people to a clinical trial would normally take months, possibly years. And so again, that's another reason that it's been really quick. So that's how it's been developed so quickly. And then approval wise, so here in the UK, it's the NHRA that approves vaccines and medicines and the way that they've done it quicker than usual, because they have approved it more quickly than usual as well, is they've had everybody working on this one thing, people have been working longer hours, and they've done a lot of overlapping. So normally, there'd be various different stages of approving a vaccine. They have different teams working on different bits, and it overlaps that. But really importantly, the Coronavirus vaccines, the three that have so far been approved in the UK, they haven't cut any corners. So they have been through just as rigorous a process as other medicines and other vaccines such as the flu vaccine. And that's really in order to be approved, it needs to be three things: it needs to be safe, it needs to have high quality, and it needs to be effective. So it's hard to believe and I think if you just said to scientists five years ago, you know, they'll create a vaccine in 10 months, they'd have said, No, it's not possible. But you know, exceptional circumstances have led to exceptional results. And that's how it came about. I don't know if this is just me. But you broke up a little bit when you said the three things a vaccine needs to be and it might be on my end. But just in case it's not. Can you repeat the three thing that the vaccine needs to be pleased? Absolutely. In order to be approved a vaccine needs to be safe, it needs to be of high quality, and it needs to be effective. Great. Thank you so much. Sorry about that. As I said, I just don't know if it's just me and my reception. I think, you know, we are here to talk about the vaccine. But I think the reason we're having this event, the elephant in the room is that there is hesitancy in the black community about this vaccine and about medical healthcare, and how it treats us in general. I think in order for us to make sure we have a full conversation, a conversation that's worthwhile, it'd be really great for us to address that. And so I'd like to know, you know, why do you think the black community are so hesitant about this vaccine? Yeah, I mean, and that's absolutely, I think you're absolutely right. And I think that's something that is often lacking is that, clearly we have identified that the black community are the most hesitant, and there was a study done in November last year, which is quite a while ago, and things have changed since then. But that showed that over 70% of people from the black community response to that said they were likely unlikely sorry, to have the vaccine, they were the only ethnic group where the majority of people said they were unlikely. And I think in order to, it's all very well, that, you know, the government and the NHS and scientists are recognising that people from the black community need more information, you know, there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy, but it's also important that there's acknowledgement as towards, towards the reasons the very valid reasons why that is. And there's a really long, complex history when it comes to the black community and the scientific medical community, there's a lot of distrust, and there's really good reasons why. And I think I tend to find that older members of our community are more suspicious than younger members. And that's perhaps because they remember or they're more aware of some of the issues. And I think there are a lot of people signed up to this event, a lot of my friends signed up, who are my age or younger, and they'd signed up because they wanted to share this information with family members that they're concerned about who aren't sure about the vaccine. And I think it's important, therefore, that we all, young or old, we educate ourselves a little bit about this, this history. So I've written down a little list that I share with you of a few things that have happened in the past, that are adding towards this very valid reason why people from our community have concerns. So if we go all the way back to the 19th century, there was an obstetrician called James Marion Sims, who you may have heard of, and this is, you know, this is a very long time ago, but it's quite traumatic for the black women to hear that he experimented essentially on black women who were slaves, and learned how to do really important operations so that that could benefit white women, but he experimented and often did it without anaesthesia. And if we go more recently, there's a study, this was in America called the Tuskegee study, and it was a syphilis study. And again, it was it was black men that were enrolled in this study. And the United States Public Health Department wanted to see what would happen if people were left untreated with syphilis, so they signed up African American men, because they believe they were gonna get free treatment for their syphilis, and they left them untreated to see what happened to them. You know, that's, that's not that long ago 1932 to 1972. And there's a story of Henrietta Lacks and her cells. So this is a story of not, she didn't consent for her cells to be used in research. And then if we go even to 1996, so there's been a lot of distrust, particularly around the Pfizer vaccine in some groups, and that's because even just, you know, 1996, this is in my lifetime, Pfizer did some studies in Nigeria. It was meningitis studies, it was a new antibiotic, they were trying, and there were issues around consent there. And you know, they ended up paying out billions to families. So that's another one to look up called the, the Truven trial. And then just last year, 2020 report came out saying that black women are four times as likely to die in childbirth as white women, Asian women are twice. So there's a long, complex history and there are really good reasons why people who are black, they may not even know this science, but they've heard their families talking about it – do not trust the scientific community, do not trust the medical community. And now here, we are asking them to trust it and have a vaccine. And, and that's really tricky. So it's really important that I follow that up with, I've researched it, as a medical professional, very privileged that I get access to all of this information, and they're really genuinely, in my opinion, is no reason for people from the black community to be concerned about the safety of the vaccine, to be concerned that it's been in any way used experimentally on certain groups, or to be concerned that it won't work. As far as we know, this vaccine is as good for everybody, whatever your ethnicity, whatever your race, whatever your background, but I understand, and I think it's important to acknowledge that people have very justified reasons for being concerned and being hesitant. And we need to address that in order to help people move on and be able to be fully informed about making a decision about the vaccine. But I think it's important to just give a bit of additional information.
Tobi Oredein 12:24
Yeah, it's a needed answer. Cuz I think, you know, people have been talking about this and kind of skirted around but I think, you know, you being a black woman, you being a medical professional and not shying away from, you know, why that hesitancy there is important to make sure that we have, as I said, a full conversation as possible. And we can't not acknowledge that in order to move forward with this vaccine. So thank you so much. And now I've addressed that we've addressed the purpose of the vaccine. And I think, you know, that I until this afternoon, for there's only two types of vaccine, and I've learned that there are three types of vaccines. Can you explain the differences between these three vaccines?
Dr Zoe Williams 13:02
Yes, so. So the Pfizer vaccine and the Astra Zeneca vaccine, the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine are the two vaccines that are currently being used. But there is a third one the Moderna vaccine has been approved. But it's not yet being used. So yeah, you're right, there are three vaccines that have been approved. They all work in a similar way in that all three vaccines, what they do is that they, they get your body to produce a protein. And that protein is identical to the proteins that are on the outside of the actual virus, they don't give your body the virus, that protein can't replicate and cause an infection. It's impossible, it is just a tiny little, almost like you imagine that this virus is red on the outside, it's got red little dots, it's the red dot of the virus so it gets your body to produce that. And your body then produces antibodies have an immune response to that protein, because it recognises it as an invader and wants to eliminate it. What that means is if you then encounter the actual virus your body sees it doesn't recognise the rest of the virus, it's never seen it before, but it recognises that red spot that's on the outside of the virus, and then you immediately because you've seen it before, your body can attack it, your immune system attacks it and gets rid of it. So you don't become unwell. It works exactly the same way as many of the other non live viruses do. There is a slight difference between, so the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine contain a bit of genetic code that then makes your body create the protein. The AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine is slightly different in that it contains that bit of genetic code, but it contains it in what we call a viral vector. So it actually is a part of a different type of virus, an adeno virus which causes colds but it's a chimp adeno virus, so it can't infect us and again, it's non live, but it uses that as a as a carrier of the bit of code. So they work slightly different, but similar. And I think what's really important is that lots of patients say to me, Well, which one's best, there is no best, there are no studies that compare one vaccine to the other in terms of effect. They're all safe, they're all effective and the advice around that is whichever one is offered first, take it first. Because the only thing that makes a difference is, you know, having it as soon as possible. But there are some slight differences. And there are loads of other vaccines out there as well in production, I imagine that as the months go on, we will have more coming through, which is great. But at the moment, we have those three that are approved and two that are actually in circulation being administered. You said, um, you know, whatever vaccines offered, take, and can you choose? Can you say, you know, I would prefer, I won't even attempt to the names of those vaccines, like, oh, my God, but can you choose what vaccine you take? And yeah, can you? Mostly no, because it's just not possible to do that. So where I work in Southwark, in southeast London, we have one of our big practices that's kind of just been converted into a vaccination centre. Say, for example, I was to call you today, Tobi and say, right, we've got you an appointment on Monday at nine o'clock. Can you come along? Yes. And you say to me, which vaccine is we don't even know, we don't know till Monday morning, because the bottleneck so the thing, that's, I mean, we're rapidly vaccinating it's going at an incredible rate, but the thing that's slowing it down is the supply of vaccines. So when I turn up to work on a Monday morning, if I'm doing vaccinating, I don't know, until I get there, whether we've got Pfizer or AstraZeneca. So it's impossible for people to, to choose because we just don't, we just don't know. And also, you know, if people were choosing, it's another thing that could delay things and slow things down. So the only people who would and should, and for good reason to be able to determine which vaccine they have is, if a person has had a previous allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in one of the vaccines that isn't in the other, then of course, there's one vaccine they can't have. So they'd only be given, but in where I'm working, they will just turn upon that day and if they can't be AstraZeneca vaccine, and that's what we've got that day, then, you know, we'd rebook them for for another day, or we'd have them on a standby or something. But actually, it's incredibly rare, incredibly rare that people have had previous allergic reactions to these ingredients. And they've been such a small number of people bearing in mind, millions of people have now been vaccinated, that have had any form of reaction. And I think, you know, going on from that point, what would be good to ask is, I think you've kind of answered it, but I think, you know, just so it's really clear. If you've got a health condition, so diabetes, heart issues, is there a vaccine that you should be taking? Or one that you shouldn't be taking? How do pre-existing health conditions play a part in what vaccines you take? Yeah, and I've been asked that a lot by patients as well, you know, patients who've got certain, a couple of patients for some reason who had rheumatoid arthritis who were taking certain medications said is one better than the other? And the answer is no. So there's no evidence to say that one vaccine is better than the other whoever you are based on different types of health conditions. So whether it's diabetes that you have, or sickle cell or rheumatoid arthritis, there isn't there isn't any particular disease group for whom it's been specified that one vaccine is preferable to the other.
Tobi Oredein 18:50
Okay. And I think the final thing is, how did the dosages work? Do you have one one month one, you know, two months later, how does it work?
Dr Zoe Williams 19:02
So it's 12 weeks later, so whether you're having AstraZeneca, Pfizer, either one, you have your first vaccine, and then you'll be invited for the second vaccine within 12 weeks. So it's probably between the 11th week and the 12th week, and it's fine to have the vaccine anytime between three weeks after and 12 weeks after. And originally, we were vaccinating people after three weeks, this is another thing that caused a bit of confusion because I think when when things change, people get suspicious and worried about why, but that's because people get the majority of their immunity from the first vaccines. It takes about three weeks before people have a reasonable immune response and it's not a complete immune response. So nobody who's been vaccinated should be out there thinking I can't get Covid 19 you still can, it's still possible but it gives you good protection. You get the majority of that from the first injection after about three weeks. And then the second vaccine which will be given mostly around 12 weeks, tops that up for makes it so your immunity lasts for longer. It's like a booster.
Tobi Oredein 20:07
Okay and I know, I did talk about specific health and underlying health issues. But I think you know, as you know what Black Ballad does, being part of that community, I really have to talk about sickle cell. Because you know, mainstream TV it's not it's not a pre-existing health condition that's had, I think enough attention in conversation about the Covid-19 thing. So if you've got sickle cell, are you safe to take the vaccine? And my second question is, should you be a priority in taking the vaccine?
Dr Zoe Williams 20:41
Yeah, so if you have sickle cell disease, then you are a priority, you're in the clinically extremely vulnerable group. So you should have already been offered your first vaccination and if you haven't, you should go online. I don't know what the web address is, I'm sure we can add it onto the website after this. But if you just search on the NHS, or any government website... so yeah, anybody with sickle cell disease, ideally, you would have already received an appointment for your first vaccine. If you haven't, you should get in touch and arrange it. And yes, it is safe, it's safe, it's completely safe for people who have sickle cell and highly recommended for those people. People who have sickle cell trait, then they they're not classed as being in a clinically vulnerable group so they wouldn't have been offered the vaccine yet unless they are above the age of 65. Okay, cool. Thank you. And one thing that Black Ballad has had a really strong focus on, since last year has been black motherhood. You know, you've mentioned the statistics, you know, black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth compared to their white counterparts. And we've had a lot of questions around the vaccine, and how it affects, I guess, those that are pregnant and those that want to get pregnant. And so I'd love to talk about that for a little while. So what effect does the vaccine have on those who are currently pregnant? I'd like to start there. Yeah. So and I think there's a few people actually, I keep seeing questions popping up about people who are pregnant, wanting to conceive, and I am pregnant myself. So I'm 23 weeks pregnant. So lots of people have been asking me personally. So let me break it down. So let's start with pregnancy. So the first thing to say is that we don't have the data to say that it is absolutely definitely safe in pregnancy, because pregnant people were excluded from the clinical trials. So we don't have that data. And we always tend to err on the side of caution when people are pregnant, we perhaps wrap them up in cotton wool and we're very cautious. And so for that reason, it's not routinely offered to women who are pregnant. The flu vaccine is offered to women who are pregnant, that's because it's been around for a long time, we know it is safe. But also, there's another difference in that in pregnancy, if you get flu, you're more likely to be severely unwell than when you're not pregnant. What we've seen with Covid-19, and there was a lot of confusion, we didn't know this at the start. But what we now know is that with Covid-19, your risk doesn't increase, the risk in terms of getting more severe disease of Covid-19 doesn't increase because you're pregnant. So more research I'm sure would have been done, perhaps if that was the case. So it's not routinely offered because there isn't the data. Having said that, the Covid-19 vaccines are non live vaccines and we know that non live vaccines are otherwise deemed to be safe in pregnancy. There's no scientific plausible reason why it wouldn't be safe in pregnancy, because this isn't a virus going into your body, it can't replicate. So the assumption, the scientific assumption is that almost definitely, it is safe in pregnancy. And for that reason, women who are pregnant who are deemed to be at higher risk, either because they have a condition that makes them clinically vulnerable, so that would be somebody with sickle cell disease, for example, or they work in a nursing home, or they work in a clinical setting, in A&E for example, where their risk of exposure is very high. For those two groups of women, then the advice is to have a chat, an individual chat with your healthcare professional to help you balance the risks and the benefits. We don't think there are any risks, but we can't say for certain because there's no data. And obviously, the benefits, if you are clinically extremely vulnerable are quite significant, because if you were to get Covid-19, you'd be at high risk. So it's a bit of a complicated answer, but that's the full answer. And I know people next will want to know, well, I've I had the vaccine, and I haven't and the reasons why... So I had a chat with one of the nurses at work, and I had Covid last year in March so I had an antibody test in the summer, which showed I had antibodies. Also I work as a GP, so most of my consultations are done online, so I'm not actually really at increased exposure, and I don't have any underlying health conditions. So I was still a little bit unsure what was best for me to do, so we actually repeated my antibody test, and I still have antibodies. So that decision for me now is that there aren't really any huge benefits to me having the vaccine right now. I will have it I intend to have it, but not whilst I'm pregnant. But that's the pregnancy bit. I think your answer was honest and I think that's what we need. Yes, fertility. I have had, my god, text messages, Whatsapp emails from friends and family members about, 'I'm not pregnant yet, but I want to have babies.' And, you know, this has been for men and women actually, I should say. Do we know the effects that the vaccine can have on fertility? Okay, so there is zero evidence to suggest that the vaccine affects fertility. There's no evidence to suggest that. So I know there are rumours out there that it affects fertility, they are all speculative. They're not based in science or based in data. Again, there's no plausible scientific reason why it should or would affect fertility. So the scientific community, again, believe it's extremely unlikely, practically zero chance that it would, because there's no reason that it should. But again, we don't have huge amounts of data to support that. So there were obviously there'd been 10s of 1000s, maybe hundreds of 1000s people in clinical trials, and from those people, people have gone on to get pregnant after that, . The numbers would suggest that, therefore, fertility is fine. But the numbers are too small to give us a definite answer to that. Animal studies. So these types of vaccines are tested on animals, sadly, before they're tested on us. Animal studies, they did look at fertility, they looked at pregnancy, and there was no reason for any concern there. And one important thing to mention is that Covid-19 itself, the infection has been shown to affect sperm count in men, not in all men, not in most men, but there has been a link. So currently, there is no plausible reason and no evidence to suggest it affects fertility, the chances that it does, are very, very close to zero. But of course, in science, you can never say for certain until you've got all of that data, so people should not be concerned about fertility. And the advice that comes out of the Royal Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is that people who are trying to conceive can have the vaccine, we shouldn't be doing pregnancy tests on women, before we vaccinate them. And if you do have the vaccine, you don't have to delay trying to get pregnant, you can continue as normal. And then finally, when it comes to breastfeeding, again, there's no suggestion that there's any reason that it's not safe in breastfeeding. I think the first thing to say is people who are breastfeeding, whatever you do don't stop breastfeeding to have the vaccine, because obviously, breastfeeding if that's something that you want to do, it's great for you, it's great for your baby. But yeah, women who are breastfeeding, if they're in a clinically vulnerable group, so as we're moving now to group seven, that would be women, perhaps, who have diabetes, for example. If you're being offered the vaccine, breastfeeding is not a reason to not take it. I'm sorry, if you've answered this, but I just wanted to get a little bit clarity on this. Just say you had the vaccine a week ago, you find out you're pregnant next month. Would you advise in your professional medical opinion to have the second dose? Because I don't know it just case that could likely be someone's scenario, whiso I just wantedto ask that. It's really good question, again. So we jump back to the pregnancy. So now you've gone from being the person trying to get pregnant to the person that is pregnant. So we would say to not have the second dose unless you're somebody in a clinically vulnerable group or somebody who is at high risk of exposure. And then it's back to having that one on one conversation. I mean, what we know is that the first vaccine gives you a really significant proportion of the immunity. So unless there's a reason to the general advice is to not. Now there will be some women out there who are pregnant, who feel very strongly that they would like to have the vaccine and there'll be some women that feel very strongly that they'd like not to. And you know, if in doubt, and you're not sure, and you want somebody to help you make that decision, have a chat with your GP or practice nurse and just talk it through with somebody. We had a couple of women on Friday who came to be vaccinated, who would find out that there were pregnant and, and I think sometimes even me just sitting and having the conversation and sharing that, that you know, we think it's safe and these are all the reasons why it's almost definitely say, but we don't have that data, blah, blah, blah. They were able to make up their mind really easily, once they knew, once they had that information to make an informed choice.
Tobi Oredein 30:13
Yeah, no, thank you. And I've only got a few questions left because I know how important it is for the community to have access to these questions. So I'm going to say if you do want to ask questions, do raise your hand, but do remember what I said earlier, that it's important that you have your video on, so we can see who we're talking to, and make sure we're having a really, as I said, fulfilled conversation and make sure that it's black people that actually have the floor. So I'm gonna go through my last questions. Side effects. That's been, I think we all have those WhatsApp, you know, messages where it's like this side effect that side effect, I think everyone's probably had at least one of those messages. And what are the side effects of the vaccine? And? And are they short term or a long term? Can we get into that, please?
Dr Zoe Williams 31:08
Yeah, of course. And yeah, I know exactly what you mean, my WhatsApp...my family WhatsApp, I've seen them all. Like the Bell's Palsy one, where, you know, people have had the vaccine, black people, and then they've got the facial droop. That's not true. And in terms of the... just a note on, just be careful. I mean, it's important that people feel that they can go and get information and seek information, but just be careful. What we know is that sensationalism sells. So the more sensationalist a story is, the more people find it interesting and are going to copy and are going to spread it around. Just think about your sources when you're getting this information, where you're getting it from. So side effects, short term side effects. Yes, there are some. So whenever I give anybody a vaccination, I give them the warning that the things that they can expect, it's essentially exactly the same as if you have a flu vaccine. So for one or maximum two days afterwards, you can experience soreness at the injection site, so a sore arm sore muscle in the arm. And then mild flu like symptoms for a couple of days. And the things that most commonly tend to be reported are a mild headache, a mild fever, and feeling a bit fatigued and then sort of general muscle and body aches. Few people have reported nausea as well. And some people have said that their second vaccine they – because a lot of healthcare professionals have received the second vaccine, because it was before they change it to 12 weeks – a lot of people, younger people actually, seem to say that they have more side effects at the second dose, which kind of makes sense, because your body's already started to build an immune response for the first dose. So when you add the second dose, it's like whoo! And whacks it. Important to say two things: one, if you have those side effects, it's not a sign of an infection. This vaccine cannot give you the infection. It's actually a good sign in a way because it's a sign that your immune system is doing its thing. And the other thing to say is actually if you have the vaccine, and you develop a high fever, or become very unwell or a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, please don't assume it's from the vaccine. If you're having something more than mild symptoms, then get a test and check because you can still get Covid. Your protection from the vaccine, as I mentioned before, takes about three weeks. So you know, some people will have the vaccine, and then sadly, will actually get Covid in the days and weeks afterwards, because it doesn't protect you straightaway.
Tobi Oredein 33:36
Okay, thank you so much for those.
Dr Zoe Williams 33:37
Long term side effects, that's a really important one. And again, you know, I always just give really truthful, honest answers. I'm not going to say it absolutely is not going to cause any long term side effects in the future, because with science, you can never say that. There's no reason to think it will cause any side effects in the future. There's no plausible reason. But with everything, there is always a very, very small, miniscule theoretical risk of a side effect in the future, as there is with iPhones as there is with like the ear pods that everybody wears, you know, in 10 years time your brain could explode. Chances of that happening from wearing ear pods is practically zero, but it's possible. And it's the same with these vaccines, you know. Now, people in trials started having vaccines six months ago or longer and we haven't seen people having any long term side effects. The chances people will have long term side effects are again, practically zero. So, so minimal, but you can never say that there, there is absolutely no risk of a side effect in the future. But that's when you have to then balance the risks and the benefits. So the risks of having the vaccine long term risk of side effects is almost zero, but there's this very vague theoretical risk that something could happen in the future, the risk of getting Covid-19, well we know what those are, and the risk of us living in a pandemic. Even if you're somebody who's young, fit and healthy, you know, you can become unwell with Covid-19, but it's unlikely. But the risk of us living our lives the way we are now the impact on our mental health, the impact on our social health, etc, etc. So, you know, the vaccines are important for us individually to protect us from this illness, they're important for people in our family and community because we protect them by having it, but it's also important on a global scale that until almost everybody across the world is vaccinated, life can't fully get back to normal. And we all we all need that for our for our mental health and our social health. I think, you know, the one topic that we should talk about is children. I've got a 10 month old, and does she need the vaccine? Do children need the vaccine? What is what is the age that we should be getting the vaccine? Is it 16, 18? Does it matter? So do children need the vaccine? So it's a currently the cutoff is 16. So the vaccine isn't available to people under the age of 16. I always say that one of the real silver linings to this awful virus has been that it doesn't seem to affect children. Children tend to, if they get it, either have no symptoms or have a very, very mild illness, milder than a cold. And you know, the number of children who have had a severe illness is extremely, extremely low. So one of the silver linings has always been that children pretty much come out unscathed from this. So for that reason, they haven't again, they haven't been a priority group for research. And, therefore it hasn't been tested on children. So it's not recommended currently for children because they're not deemed to be at high risk, and it hasn't been tested. The exception to that rule would be a child who was clinically vulnerable. So it might be a child who has sickle cell disease, for example, who has lots of problems with their sickle cell disease. And in that scenario, the child's family should have a one on one conversation with the doctor and a decision should be made. So some children, a small number of children may be considered for the vaccine. There are now trials going on and people under the age of 16, so we might see that change in the future. It might be in time months to come or in a year to come or in the future at some point vaccination will be recommended for children, but currently is not. Thank you so much. What if someone's had the virus? Did they still need the vaccine? You said that you've had the virus, you know that you've got antibodies? So let's talk about that. Do you still need the vaccine if you've had the virus? Yes, it's still advised. If I wasn't pregnant, I would have had it. And that's because the vaccine will... So I have some immunity from having had the virus. But I don't know the strength of that immunity or for how long it will last. So having the vaccine makes my immunity stronger and longer. So yeah, so having had, even if you've had the virus, you should still have the vaccine. And is there a time period, I guess, in terms of which you should wait after having, you know, the vaccine after having Covid? If you have Covid on February 1, is there a time period that you should wait after February 1? Yeah, there is. Yes, it's four weeks. So four weeks from either the first day that you started with your symptoms, or the day that you got the positive test results. So if even if you've had an asymptomatically, but you had a positive test result, four weeks from either one of those two, it should be delayed.
Tobi Oredein 38:36
Those are all my questions, a lot of questions
Dr Zoe Williams 38:38
Just a few! But that's really helpful, because that's probably covered most of people's questions, I would have thought. Are we likely to need a vaccine every year as the virus continues to mutate? Great question. I don't have the answer. We don't know yet. And this is one of the things that's to be decided. So the current focus is on vaccinating all of the high risk groups and then vaccinating everybody else. And there's some, to some degree there's a wait and see. So we know with something like measles, you have the course of vaccines when you're a baby, and you're immunised for life. Whereas we know with flu, you need a vaccination every year. So we don't yet know with Covid and Coronavirus, where that will lie. The hope will be that it'll be more like if you've got immunity once you've got immunity life long. But we also know that this is a virus that can, as can all viruses actually, can mutate. So I think that the best guess at the moment is that this year the aim will be to vaccinate as close to everyone as possible. And in future years, I think the guess is that people will need a booster but it might only be people in the more vulnerable groups that will be, that will be offered that. Okay. All right. Thank you so much. And I don't think Jenna can switch on her camera, unfortunately. But if Jenna is happy to put her question in the chat, we'll answer. Safsim? Are you happy to put your camera on an unmute so we can ask the question?
Audience Member 40:21
Hiya. Yeah, I can. Can you hear me now?
Dr Zoe Williams 40:24
We can, we can't see you.
Audience Member 40:26
Because I'm doing it via my phone, for some reason, I don't know how. It says disconnect audio, but it doesn't give me the option to show my video. I don't know why.
Tobi Oredein 40:37
Okay, um, okay, let's hear the question. But please, please do if you can everyone else put your camera on. I'm sorry about that. Sorry. Go. Saf go for it.
Dr Zoe Williams 40:53
Oh, there you are. Now we can see you, but we can't hear you.
Audience Member 41:01
Okay, um, hi. So, my son had the bone marrow transplant. So he was sickle cell anaemia. And he had a bone bone marrow transplant just finished last year in September, where he rang the bell. So basically, my concern is he's completely unvaccinated because he had to do the chemotherapy stuff where he now hasn't he now needs to start all his vaccinations again, as if he was a newborn. So being completely unvaccinated, should he be taking the vaccine, bumber one, he's 13 years old? And would it be safe for him to do that, given that he's almost like at zero when it comes to vaccinations at the moment?
Dr Zoe Williams 41:43
Yeah. So this is this is quite a unique scenario, and one that as a GP, it's not something that I would feel comfortable advising you on personally, it's definitely something that I think should be agreed with a specialist team. However, I think the key one of the key points here is that the Covid vaccine is a non live vaccine. So for people who have a weakened immunity, even for people who are currently having, most people who are currently having chemotherapy, and for people who've had transplants of any nature, live, live vaccines can be a real problem, but non live vaccines are generally safe. So the fact that it's non live vaccine makes it much more likely that this is a vaccine that would be recommended for him. And obviously, protecting him from Covid-19 is really important. So, although the vaccines not offered to children generally, I think in your son's case, it's one of those where it's worth having a conversation with his team of doctors to make that decision based on the risks and benefits. And also they may, they may want to prioritise other vaccines first, and they won't want to give all the vaccines at the same time. So there's quite a few things to consider there.
Audience Member 42:58
Yeah, I had an experience when he was sickle cell. And he took the flu jab and he had a really bad reaction. And since then, I've been really sort of anti vaccine for that reason he ended up in hospital for like three months got triple coccle A, it was really nerve wracking.
Dr Zoe Williams 43:15
Did he have the nasal vaccine, the nasal spray or the jab?
Audience Member 43:19
Dr Zoe Williams 43:20
Right. Yeah. The nasal spray that's given to children for flu vaccine is that it's not a non live vaccine, it's a weakened vaccine. So that's why I was interested to know. But, okay, so yeah, so again, another factor, which is a completely individual case, decision around a vaccine for him is one that probably even various different members of his medical team will want to get together to make that decision how best to advise you on that.
Audience Member 43:52
Okay, thank you.
Dr Zoe Williams 43:53
All right. Good luck to him. But thank you so much for asking the questions, Saf, we really appreciate it,
Audience Member 44:02
Dr Zoe Williams 44:05
Can we bring someone else onto the stage? And before we do, I'm just going to read out another question. That you can answer Dr Zoe if you're okay with that. It's kind of similar. Someone says 'I have graves disease and I have been offered the vaccine, but no information around the potential side effects of this autoimmune disease.' Where can I find this or do you have any advice? Okay, yes, so graves disease is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland. And there are many different autoimmune conditions affect different types of different parts of the body type one diabetes is an example. rheumatoid arthritis is an example, psoriasis. So for anybody who has an autoimmune condition, any of those conditions, the vaccine is recommended, and they are in one of the groups that is now eligible. And again, because it's non live vaccine, there aren't any concerns about people who have an altered immune system having it. So if you want more information another tip for anybody out there actually who has a long term condition, another really good source of information is the charity The Sickle Cell Disease Society, for example, they are really a great source of information. I had a little look on their website the other day, they've got some incredible videos on there of other doctors giving information. Groups from the black community have come together to talk about this issue we're talking about today, so for somebody with graves disease, I don't know if there's a graves disease charity, but have a look at sort of thyroid, thyroid charities in the UK and they might have some more specific, but as somebody with an autoimmune condition, whether that is graves disease or another one, then the vaccine is recommended.
Tobi Oredein 45:51
Okay, cool. Thank you so much. And any of the links that you've mentioned or chat with us afterwards I have a quick conversation with you and then we'll link them underneath the video that's going to go in front of our paywall if that's okay, just because I hope people can just click on those links, and then maybe get some of their questions answered. Again, we're hoping to bring someone else up, Natalie Scarlett, thank you so much for coming to the event. Natalie, hopefully, we're going to be able to unmute you and get your camera on so you can ask your question.
Audience Member 46:32
Thank you for this discussion. It's so informative, so helpful. I guess. I've just got two really quick questions. One, I don't know the data around this, but it's some conversations that's kind of came up with colleagues. The flu vaccine, I'm not sure how effective it is but I know a lot of people still die from the flu around the world. And, you know, just anecdotally, every time my dad had the flu vaccine, he'd always get sick afterwards, he does get the flu afterwards. And I just wondered, I can't visibly see that vaccine is, is as effective as maybe it's said to be, so how have they managed to create this vaccine so quickly? If we haven't got the flu vaccine completely right and it hasn't kind of eradicated the flu is what I'm trying to get at, sort of like polio and, and meningitis or smallpox and those kind of things. Why is this one all of a sudden, so effective? And how do we know it's effective if only peoples had just first had the one dose and not had the second part, I know there's been trials? But yeah, yeah, I just kind of wondered if the flu one was not up to scratch then why is this one?
Dr Zoe Williams 47:50
Yeah, no, I understand your question. It's a good question. So you know, flu's been around for years, surely we should be able to get a vaccine that's 95% effective for that, and we haven't. And you're absolutely right. So the flu vaccine isn't as effective as the Coronavirus vaccine. And a lot of the time people have the flu vaccine and similarly with the Covid-19 vaccine, it doesn't give you, doesn't give you immediate protection. So there'll always be if you take 100 people and give them all the flu vaccine, there might be 10 people or five people that will get flu in the two weeks after that, that were going to get it anyway, but will think that the vaccine caused the flu. It didn't they just got it anyway. Now, the flu virus, the influenza virus is a particularly tricky virus, because it mutates and you know, I spoke earlier about the little proteins that are stuck on the outside and that's what your immune system learns about and that's what it recognises and that's what it builds an immune response to. When the flu virus changes, as it does, and we've got loads of different strains of the flu, what it changes is not what's inside the virus or how it works, it changes its spike proteins. So you can have a flu infection that seems to be the predominant one one year, and then the following year, it's a different strain that's got a different, a different coat on, sort of thing, so your immunity can't recognise it. So because the flu virus changes in that very specific way, it's very difficult. That's why we have to do an annual vaccination programme and that's why that vaccine changes a little bit each year. And usually now nowadays, the flu vaccine that you get protects against four different strains of flu and the World Health Organisation actually have to make an educated guess as to which strains of flu are going to be most predominant that year. And then they build a flu vaccine that protects against the four that they think are going to be the most predominant. If you get one of the other strains. Sadly, the flu vaccine hasn't protected you and they do a lot of work because our winter season follows Australia. So they look a lot towards Australia and see, you know which, which flu, which flu has been prudent in the Ozzies that year, and a lot of the information is based on that. So, flu is particularly tricky and for that reason, I can understand why it would be confusing that we seem to have developed a Covid vaccine that's much more effective than a flu vaccine. But that's, that's the reason why.
Audience Member 50:21
And I just wondered if you know, what you're saying about the flu vaccine, and there being different variants would that happen with this? Because there's different variants now isn't there and there's talk about maybe the vaccine not being effective against the South African variant. So might the same thing happen with this one?
Dr Zoe Williams 50:38
It may well do because what we've seen with the South African variant, for example, is that we don't know for certain yet, but it would seem plausible that the current vaccines are not as effective at treating it. They're still effective at treating it, but not as effective at treating it and I know that there is work going on to look at developing more and more vaccines that are slightly tweaked that will work as effectively for these strains. I think the important point, though, the really important point is that even though the current vaccines may not give you as strong a protection against actually getting the infection, what we seem to be seeing so far is that they'll still give you really good protection against getting a severe infection or dying. So it means that if you have a South African variant, you might be more likely to get Covid with a sniffle, you're not more likely to get Covid that's going to put you in hospital. So and you know, that's, that's the main thing isn't it you know, if we get Covid and have a bit of a sniffle, well, it's not ideal. But at the end of the day, if we can protect people from getting severe disease, that's what's important. So there are still so many unknowns with the Covid-19 vaccine, but it's looking like actually, as the scientists are studying these different variants, there might be different vaccines that come out in the future, and maybe sort of 2022's vaccine might be a bit like the flu vaccine in that you have a few it protects against a few different strains.
Audience Member 52:09
Thanks so much. Thank you.
Dr Zoe Williams 52:10
Great questions. Thank you for coming. We appreciate it. We really do. So we've got Dr. Zoe until about half eight. I'm really going to be straight and finish on half eight. And if we can finish earlier, that would also be fine. We've got another raised hand. But before we go to someone, before we bring someone on stage, I've got a few more questions want to ask Dr Zoe that have come through our chat. One question is, the second part of the vaccination was meant to be administered within 28 days, now the government is saying 12 weeks, do you have any insight into why that is? Yes. And so I mean, originally it was, it was, yeah, 21 to 28 days, and then it was extended. So the reason for that was, best way to explain it is imagine if you've got 100 vaccines to administer. And you've got two options, you can either vaccinate within a specific time period, you can either vaccinate 50 people twice and give them their first on their second, or you can vaccinate 100 people and give them their first. And if we think that you get about 70% of your immunity, so you're quite well protected from the first vaccine and that second vaccine tops you up and gives you a little bit more. It's better to vaccinate 100 people and give them good immunity than vaccinate 50 people and give them slightly better immunity. So what they looked into that they wanted to extend it to 12 weeks in order to achieve that. And that's the reason that that it was changed in that way because it means we can protect more people. So we've now reached this target of by Monday was over 15 million people have been vaccinated. If they hadn't made that change, then it would only be you know, roughly half that number of people that would be protected. So that's the reason why and then there was a lot of speculation, a lot of questions around well, you know, if is that the right thing to do? Do people still end up in the long run been as protected? And the scientists believe the evidence is that yes, they do. So that's the reason. I'm going to ask one more question then we're going to bring someone up on stage. We've kind of covered I think, the Covid vaccine covering all strains, I think we've covered that. But Dr. Zoe, please tell me if you think it's not been covered in our conversation I kind of think it has, what do you think? I think so I guess the summary is that there are going to be many more strains, we're going to see new strains popping up and the vaccines that we currently have offer good protection against becoming seriously unwell and dying from all strains. But protection is stronger against some than others, but essentially for all strains that we currently have the vaccine is going to give you the best protection that is available out there. There being new strains is certainly not a reason to to not have the vaccine.
Tobi Oredein 55:08
Okay, cool. Thank you so much. And so Yes, hi, I didn't see your name that was very quick. Iyola Please tell me if I'm pronouncing that incorrectly. Please do correct me if I pronounced that wrong. Eli, we're waiting for your camera and for you to be unmuted.
Audience Member 55:24
My name is Iyula. And I have two questions. So the first question is, I have the sickle cell trait but I will be going into a doctor's appointment that could determine that I may have a rare type of cancer that is related to the sickle cell trait. I wanted to know, what would be the process of me being in a priority group if I were to have that condition?
Dr Zoe Williams 56:10
Okay. So as you know that, the sickle cell trait on its own wouldn't put you into a high priority group, if you were to have this additional diagnosis, then it may or it may not. But I think the important thing in your case is that your healthcare professional, whether that is a hospital doctor, or your GP, can if they think that, you know, these are sort of their groups of people, you can have people who have type two diabetes, who are really super healthy, they've got it really controlled. And then you can have people who have other conditions that don't fulfil that criteria, who were actually quite unwell. And you really would be worried about them getting it. So therefore, your doctors are able to kind of override if you like, the group that you're in to some extent. So the best thing for you to do is whichever physician is caring for you, it's probably a hospital doctor, I'm imagining, and just have a chat with them and just say, you know, do you think that I would be at higher risk if I was to get Covid? And therefore do you think that I should be prioritised for a vaccine? And if they think that you do, then they can sort of put you into the group that means you'll currently be offered it and they can arrange that for you.
Audience Member 57:24
Okay, thank you. I also wanted to ask that, obviously, when it comes to me getting the vaccination, if I were to be in that situation, since there are medical biases and medical racism that is still within healthcare today, do you have any suggestions or advice on how to advocate for the treatment that I should get?
Dr Zoe Williams 57:49
That's an incredibly pertinent, it's a really great question. And I think, you know, we, we know that we do live in this society, where, because of the colour of our skin, there is a risk that we could be treated differently. I think that it's not something that I don't think I see explicit racism in my job day in, day out but I think when I look back, there are subtle things that I have seen that make me think, Well, actually, you know, when I look for it, and I searched, and I searched through that lens, I can see it. I think, you know, straight away the fact that you are so clearly really smart, and you have that mindset and you can articulate your thoughts and you can advocate for yourself, you're perhaps the type of person who may be at slightly lower risk. I think we have to be brave and I think if you ever feel that you are being victimised or discriminated against, then there are ways to deal with that. If there is a healthcare professional working in the department that you're in, that you feel confident and safe in, you can raise it with them. Or every hospital has something called PALS, which is the patient's liaison service. So if you feel that you're being treated unfairly or you want to make a complaint, either against healthcare professional or against a hospital or you know, whatever, then you can contact their PALS, P A L S, and they're a group that they're set up to advocate for patient when you feel that you've been treated in any way unfairly.
Okay, thank you so much for that advice. I just have one question. I come from a background of healthcare communications. And just recently I wrote a piece about how medical racism informs vaccine hesitancy. And what I was noticing when I was doing this article is that the government and the media's language and communications to the black community have been almost scapegoating us from holding back, like real change or overall vaccination progress. And no one has been, you know, referring to medical racism and all this long history. So I have like, the question I have for you is, obviously, I know and understand you're not from healthcare communications. But as someone who knows about the medical racism, do you have any suggestions for how the government and the media should approach communications to the black community?
Dr Zoe Williams 1:00:25
I mean, I think the big thing that's lacking is exactly what you said. It's that acknowledgement. I know that the government right now, public health right now, social care systems, the NHS at large, doctors, and nurses, they all really want to support people from black, Asian and other minor ethnic groups to feel confident in the vaccine. And I hear a lot of helpful language around how you know, that is actually about addressing people's concerns, and giving them the right information. But actually, the reality is, I think people from the black community, some people from the black community, they don't just want to be reassured about how the vaccine has come about so quickly, and about how... they actually want it to be acknowledged that their concerns are valid, and that systemic racism does exist, and that there is this complex history. And I think SAGE, actually, so SAGE, the scientific advisory group, it was I was quite shocked in a really pleasant way when the news came out a few weeks ago about this survey, which showed that 72% of people from the black community said they were unlikely to go ahead and have the vaccine, SAGE actually said that, you know, the reason they believe this was was because of systemic racism in healthcare, and because of the complex relationship that has developed over many years between black people and the scientific community. And I thought for them to say that was really helpful, because you don't often you don't often see that. I did personally wonder who's behind that? I feel like that's one person who stood up and spoken to their peers. But I've been speaking to my peers about it, I spoke about it on This Morning, and I spoke about it in a meeting we had locally and amongst our healthcare professionals in Southwark where I work and I think there's, there's a lot of, there's a lot of ignorance, a lot of people just don't know about it. And they're quite shocked, actually but they're interested, I think we've reached a stage where I believe this and other people may disagree, but I do believe that we're kind of at a bit of a tipping point where we've gone from a world where the medical system and the scientific world has illegally treated black bodies, you know, we know that that happened and then I think we've come through this long period where working in the NHS, I don't really see explicit racism, but there's a lot of, well, let's just ignore that and let it carry on and still a lot of these inbuilt beliefs such as, for example, that black women can tolerate pain better than white women, and we might not be making that decision. But we just somehow implicitly believe that it's that implicit bias and I feel that we're now possibly dare I say, just on the cusp of starting to see some change where, and you know, with Black Lives Matter, as well, and everything that's been going on there, where people are perhaps starting to feel that they are willing to have those conversations, and listen and hear it and it's uncomfortable for a lot of people to even hear this stuff but people are really interested. When I spoke to my colleagues about it, we were talking about vaccine hesitancy in certain ethnic groups and people were quite shocked to hear some of this stuff but interested and open and they want to engage with it. And I think now, you know, dare I say that the scientific community and health community are waking up to actually people from certain ethnic backgrounds need to be prioritised. And there's suspicion that comes with that, you know, all of a sudden, the government is saying, we want to vaccinate black people first, black people are like, Whoa, we're not being your guinea pigs. But actually, I think, you know, this is now with good intentions. So we are a community where there is a lot of hesitancy, but we're actually also community where we felt the impact of Covid much more, which is a whole other conversation about that. So I do feel like and I really hope we're at a tipping point where things will start to get better. Thank you so much. Your questions were so important. So thank you so much for coming on the stage and actually asking those questions. I'm really grateful you did. So thank you so much. We've got two more people waiting to come on stage. I've got a few more questions And we've got just over 15 minutes left, to the remaining people to come on stage. If you could just ask one question just so we can get through everything, I'd really appreciate that, but I do understand like how important this topic is as well. And so I'm just gonna go to one question I've been pointed to. Do recipients have to have a six month or annual boost when it comes to the vaccine? As of yet, we don't know. And you know this, I kind of answered this one earlier as in with the flu vaccine, it's every year with Coronavirus, we don't yet know, but there's a chance that maybe there will be something like an annual booster for the most vulnerable groups and but that's a guess.
Tobi Oredein 1:05:41
Thank you so much. And I'm happy for someone to be brought on stage and now.
Audience Member 1:06:22
Okay. Thanks. Sorry about that. Great evening. Fantastic discussion, really enjoyed it. And you kind of answered my question, really, in terms of whether black people who seem to be much more at risk, not seem to be, are much more at risk of not only getting it but dying from and having serious complications. Do you think that we should be in the priority groups for vaccination? And if so how would that go with the other as in white communities? How would they feel? You think?
Dr Zoe Williams 1:06:53
So I'm so glad you asked that question, because it gives me an opportunity to speak about something I didn't think I'd get speak about. It's kind of breaking news this week. So Oxford University have been working on a calculator, because we know that it's much more complex, then because somebody has diabetes, they're at high risk, and somebody doesn't, they don't, there's so many other factors. We know that age is by far and away the biggest risk factor. And then certain health conditions are, you know, put you at higher risk. But we also know that where you live, so your postcode, and what your ethnicity is, and what your BMI is, and your general health, we know that they all play a part as well. So it's taken some time but Oxford have created something called it's called Queue Covid. And it's a calculator that based on the information your GP already holds on you, creates a risk stratification. So it means that if you are black, you are slightly higher risk, if you are black, but you live the same postcode, everything else is the same, you will be deemed higher risk and somebody who's white. If you are a higher BMI, you will be deemed higher risk than somebody who has a lower BMI, if you live in a deprived area, because you're based on your postcode, you're at higher risk than somebody who is otherwise the same as you who lives in a more affluent area. So based on that people, it means that more people have been asked to shield actually, letters have gone out, I believe this week to people. Because that has meant that some people have been pushed into a very high priority group. And they've automatically been asked to come forward for a vaccine. So there will be some people now who will be prioritised over others based on that. And this kind of goes back to what I was saying before, I do feel like now, that is actually a tangible, practical step that's been taken, which means that it's been recognised in a fair way that people from certain ethnic groups are at higher risk than people from other ethnic groups. And we know that people actually from a Bangladeshi ethnic group are at higher risk than people from black ethnic groups, people from black ethnic groups are at higher risk than people from white ethnic groups. So based on what we've learned, it's really fair way of making sure that and it's and it's a way that I think doesn't make people feel... there's nothing negative about it, because it's not it's not just based on ethnicity. It's based on all of those factors. It's based on affluence, ethnicity, BMI, your general health, and those things that determine your health are outside of your control. So I hope that answers your question.
Audience Member 1:09:35
Absolutely. Thank you very much indeed. Thanks. Thank you so much. Have a great night, as well. Really enjoyed it.
Dr Zoe Williams 1:09:40
Thank you so much. And we've got two more people to be brought on stage. And then I think if we if everyone keeps to one question, and then the questions that we have in our chat, that will take us to half past I'm thinking. Dolly?
Audience Member 1:09:57
Hi, good evening, both of you. Thank you so much for this event. I really feel like I'm more equipped to answer questions and concerns that my loved ones and family members have raised about the vaccine. So my question really is, do you have any other recommendations or resources in stuff that can be forwarded on to loved ones, to either answer their concerns about the vaccine or to tackle misinformation about it as well?
Dr Zoe Williams 1:10:48
Yeah. I think the probably a really helpful resource, especially if you have found it helpful will be the recording of this. So please tell me if I'm wrong. But Tobi, the plan is to and to make this available on the Black Ballad website.
Tobi Oredein 1:11:03
It will be available from Monday morning.
Dr Zoe Williams 1:11:06
Okay, great, great. And that's for free without paying so that's wonderful. And in terms of other resources, I think off the top of my head, I mean, obviously, the obvious ones are the government website, the NHS website, and I think people are a bit more trusting of NHS than government, but they tend to hold very similar information. And more general, I don't really have any specific resources but I'm sure we can put some together so that when it goes live on Monday, Tobi and I can come up with a list of other places to go. But when thinking about the information that we all absorb, and the sources that we absorb it from, I always think is important to give different weights to different sources and different bits of information are something that's in your family WhatsApp group, I'm not saying completely ignore it, you know, it might be interesting. But it should be weighted very lightly, how much and how much attention you give that, whereas if something is coming from, for example, one of the scientists who's actually been working on vaccine development, who's, you know, their whole life's work has culminated in them shifting last year into something new, and actually, they are very knowledgeable and, you know, virologists and, and scientists. So but I think that's a really, that'd be helpful, actually, for us to come up with a list of resources to put on the website alongside this on Monday. Thank you. Thank you so much Dolly. And one of the questions actually was about giving advice to family members about vaccines. But I think Zoe you've asked about this recording, the links that we're putting about and make sure we're talking about weight in terms of where we're getting this information from when talking to a family member. So are you happy with that how I have summarised that for that answer for that question? Yeah, I think the only thing I'd add to it as well is, and listen to them, you know, like, explore their concerns, really explore their concerns and give them the space to talk about some of the things I mentioned earlier about, perhaps the previous experiences they've had, or they've heard about. And then a good exercise is if they're deciding whether or not they want to have the vaccine, help them make her weighing up of what are the risks and what are the benefits? And actually, that might be helpful for them think of Well, actually, the benefits to me are really significant and now we've had this chat I think the risks are very small.
Tobi Oredein 1:13:24
Yeah. Thank you so much. This is the last person we'll bring on stage before I finish up with a few more questions. Esther thank you so, so much for coming on stage. Hopefully, we'll be able to see and hear you in a few seconds. Thank you everyone, for bearing with us with technology, by the way. Um, but yeah, hi, Esther. Can you see me? Yes,
Audience Member 1:13:54
I typed my question. What did I put? I was gonna ask. Did you believe in Boris's whole herd immunity thing? Do you still believe in it? And do you think it even achievable?
Dr Zoe Williams 1:14:12
So, I'm not sure I'm not I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to as far as Boris' herd immunity thing. But in fact, do you want to tell me what that is?
Audience Member 1:14:21
People who had been infected would then meet up with other people, and they would build antibodies by being in contact with people that had been infected and that was the way to go.
Dr Zoe Williams 1:14:33
Okay. And so, I don't believe no, is to that. So herd immunity, I'll explain quickly what it is. So herd immunity is achieved when you have so many people in a community that are immune from a virus that that virus can no longer pass amongst enough people to spread? Coronavirus, all viruses actually, in order to replicate they need to be inside your body and inside your cells. And so they can spread from one person to the next. But if you've got enough people that are immune, then it gets blocked each time it lands on a person who has immunity. Different diseases have different infectivities and therefore require different proportions of people to be immune in order for us to achieve population herd immunity. If you take something like measles, which is highly infectious, one of the most infectious viruses we know, it requires more than 90% of the population to be immune, which is why it's incredibly important that as many people are immunised as possible, and I think it's about 95%, actually, to stop that being able to spread. They've said that with Coronavirus, they think it's somewhere between 60 and 70%. So 60 or 70% of people are immune either because they've had the infection and that immunity lasts a long time, we don't know yet how long it lasts, or they've been immunised and that immunity lasts a long time. And then it means that the virus, the R becomes so low that it can't transmit anymore amongst people. There'll always be some people in society who can't be vaccinated because of health reasons. So that's why you know, if we can if we get to a stage where 70% of people are vaccinated, then as long as that vaccination is long lasting, we should be able to get about some sort of normality, but obviously, it's not just here in the UK, we travel so easily, we kind of need that to be worldwide.
Audience Member 1:16:37
Right. Thank you very much.
Dr Zoe Williams 1:16:39
Thank you so much for asking the question, Esther, thank you so much. I think I've got two more questions for Dr. Zoe, and then we'll call it a night. Someone has said, I think you've answered this about allergies. But someone said, if you're allergic to the flu job, is it likely you'd be allergic to the Covid injection? No, it's very unlikely but if you have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu job, then please do tell the person who's going to be doing your vaccination. But the flu vaccine contains well it used to anyway contain a little bit of egg it was it was used to be cultivated in an egg, it's not any more. So a lot of people in the past may have had allergic reactions if they have an egg allergy. There are no animal products whatsoever in either of the Coronavirus vaccines. There were no preservatives, there were no antibiotics. So the only allergies that people need to be concerned of is if they've had a severe anaphylactic reaction in the past to anything, then it's important that you tell the person who's doing your vaccination. But it's only if you've had an allergic reaction, then then what we do is go through the ingredients of the vaccine and see if your allergic reaction was to any of those ingredients. It's highly unlikely because most of the ingredients are not things that are known to be commonly allergens. But yeah, having had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine is not a reason to not have the Coronavirus vaccine, but do make sure you tell the person doing your vaccination. Thank you so much. Someone has asked is there a list of underlying health underlying conditions which prevent you having the vaccine? So apart from those allergies that we just spoke about, that is severe allergic reactions anaphylaxis reactions to ingredients in the vaccine. There are there are some people who for health reasons it wouldn't be recommended for, they're very few and far between, and these might be people who, for example, are receiving an extremely strong, for use of a better word, treatments or extremely invasive treatments whether that be for cancer or whether they've just recently had a bone marrow transplant. For those people, you know, the teams looking after you will have informed you that you shouldn't be recommended. So if you don't have a severe illness, and you're not taking quite strong medications, strong treatment, and then you know other than those severe allergic reactions, there are no contraindications. Almost everybody over the age of 16, who isn't pregnant, it's safe for them to have this vaccine.
Tobi Oredein 1:19:26
Thank you. And this is my final question or not mine but from our wonderful audience. Could we signposts to where you can find out and can you signpost a week and find out if you classify it as high risk?
Dr Zoe Williams 1:19:41
Yes, so the gov.uk website or if you just type in JCVI risk into Google, it should bring it up, so the groups go from group one to group nine. And group one was the people in care homes and... I can't remember who came first now, I think it was at the over 80s? And then people in care homes? Or the other way around. Group nine is people over the age of 50. And then it's everybody else. So if you go on to the gov.uk, or even NHS website, and just type in JCVI risk groups, something like that, it should come up. If you're clinically extremely vulnerable, then you're somebody has been asked to shield and that's the people who should have already had the vaccine. If you're in the clinically vulnerable, but not extremely vulnerable in group six, then you can find that list of information there. But kind of generally, it's most people who would qualify for a free flu jab. But the difference exception is people who have sort of mild asthma are not in there.
Tobi Oredein 1:20:53
Thank you. We will put a link to that underneath the video that will be going up on Monday morning around 11, midday, the video should be out by then.
Dr Zoe Williams 1:21:06
Somebody just put it to us put it in the chat as well.
Tobi Oredein 1:21:13
So yeah. I think that's pretty much all the questions that we've asked and been answered. I have to say a huge thank you to Dr. Zoe, thank you so much. Thank you so much for coming and talking to our community, and for being honest, you know, for spending part of your night with us, we really appreciate it. You didn't have to do this.
Dr Zoe Williams 1:21:40
Thank you for saying that, really kind words, but also, thank you, thank you for giving me the opportunity. Because you know, you've created an incredible platform here and so many people just I hope people will feel that I was just really frank and honest, I didn't sugarcoat it, you know, I am privileged to be in the position that I have access to all this information. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to to share that with my people.
Tobi Oredein 1:22:05
Thank you so much. And as always, to the Black Ballad community, and for trusting us to have this event, for getting a ticket, for asking so many questions. Thank you so, so much to all of you. So everyone, please stay safe. Let's you know, abide by lockdown rules, please and have a wonderful night. Thank you, everybody.
Dr Zoe Williams 1:22:29
Tobi Oredein 1:22:31