Me: Caucasian woman, 51 years old, no underlying conditions, but volunteers in a hospital. I’ve been offered a slot to get vaccinated next week. The vaccine will be the Pfizer vaccine (I know this for various reasons). My questions are:
How effective is it against the ‘new’ UK variant (the Kent variant) of the virus?
Would it be better to wait until the Novavax vaccine is released?
How effective is the Pfizer vaccine against the South African variant? Or the Brazilian?
I don’t feel I have all the information available to me to make a decision about what is best for me to do. I bet the Government knows the answers, and some scientists, but I would like to make an informed decision too. My gut is telling me not to have the Pfizer vaccine next week and wait for the Novavax but that depends on the answer to other questions: if you have already had a vaccine will it make you ineligible/bottom of the list for a second (likely more effective) type? The Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are based on the early (first?) variant of the virus but will those first variations die out completely in a few months or will they hang around for years? How many vaccines will we be able to have?
The problem is I don’t really know how vaccines work or how delivery of the various types against the different variants of the virus is going to be organised. I don’t know what to do for the best.
Yesterday was a big day. The UK became the fist country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for widespread use. People will be getting the jab from next week. The first to receive it will be those in the extremely vulnerable categories, the elderly and health care workers (which will even include me due to my work volunteering for Macmillan). I must privately admit to being a little apprehensive, if I’m being totally honest. I know the vaccine is not made of a live virus so there’s no possibility of me getting Covid-19, it’s not that that worries me. It’s more the fact that it’s been developed and approved so very quickly and that it is an RNA vaccine – a type of vaccine which has never been done before. I feel apprehensive about it, as I think many people do, because once it’s in, it’s in, and there’s no going back. I’m worried about side effects. But then again, the side effects from catching the virus and possibly getting Long Covid are said to be far, far more unpleasant than any possible side effects from having the vaccine.
Today, three ex-Presidents of the United States of America have pledged to have their vaccination jab live on television (Obama, Bush, and Clinton). In this particular case, we do want to see our leaders go first. I think it will reassure us.
Meanwhile the UK has come out of Lockdown 2.0 and into a new, stricter three tier system. My area is in Tier 2 (High). Restrictions apply, but shops are open. I will test this by buying a pair of new winter boots tomorrow.
An effective working vaccine is very close now. It’s all over the news. The markets are surging with joy! This first one is an RNA vaccine, a type of vaccine which uses a tiny fragment of the virus’ own genetic code to make part of the virus inside the body so it is recognised by the immune system as foreign. It then gets attacked and destroyed. Early studies show that it can protect more than 90% of people from developing symptoms, which is more effective than anyone could have hoped for. Its developers, Pfizer and BioNTech, said it has been tested on 43,500 people with no safety concerns raised, and is set to be put forward for immediate emergency approval.
No RNA vaccines have ever before been developed for use in humans so it’s all very new. But everyone is so hopeful and excited by it. This is how it works:
They say that the first vaccinations may be given before Christmas 2020.
Isn’t that something?!
People will be ranked by age, with the under 50s the last to receive it. Residents and workers in care homes, and health workers, will be top of the priority list.