06 Jan 2021
Covid-19 is a very scary virus. We are continually being bombarded with news of how many new daily infections and daily death counts, so it’s understandable to think that the vaccine is unsafe too. Also, there is a lot of miss-information on social media too. But when you start to read the facts about the new vaccine and the control method used in its development we can see that Covid -19 vaccination is safe.
How do we know a vaccine is safe?
Safety trials begin in the lab, with tests and research on cells and animals, before moving on to human studies.
The principle is to start small and only move to the next stage of testing if there are no outstanding safety concerns.
Who approves vaccines or treatments?
Approval is only given in the UK if the regulator, the MHRA, is happy that a vaccine is both safe and effective.
Checks continue after approval to make sure there are no further side effects or long-term risks.
Independent experts on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decide how best to use a vaccine and who should get it.
What’s in the Covid vaccines?
Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine (and Moderna’s) uses bits of genetic code to cause an immune response, and is called an mRNA vaccine.
It does not alter human cells, but merely presents the body with instructions to build immunity to Covid.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine uses a harmless virus altered to look a lot more like the pandemic virus.
Vaccines sometimes contain other ingredients, like aluminium, that make the vaccine stable or more effective.
Will, a vaccine make me ill?
There is no evidence that any of these ingredients cause harm when used in such small amounts.
Vaccines do not give you a disease. Instead, they teach your body’s immune system to recognise and fight the infection they have been designed to protect against.
Some people do suffer mild symptoms after being vaccinated, such as muscle aches or a raised temperature.
This is not the disease itself, but the body’s response to the vaccine.
What about allergies?
Allergic reactions to vaccines are rare. For any approved vaccine, the ingredients will be listed.
The MHRA says it hasn’t identified any “serious adverse reactions” during the trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
As a precaution, it says people with a history of significant allergic reactions should not currently have the Pfizer vaccine, however.
Be aware that anti-vaccine stories are spread online through social media. These posts are not based on scientific advice (or blend facts with misinformation).
Please note that all the information on the post is taken from the BBC article from the 30 December 2020 and is subject to change.