OMICRON continues to spread around the country, but some people are still wary about getting the Covid booster jab; others are yet to have their first two doses.
Here, three people who were hesitant about getting the vaccine tell us why they decided to roll up their sleeves and do their bit.
Kate Featherstone-Coombes, 29, from Winchester, was in two minds about getting vaccinated while pregnant with her now six-month-old baby.
“In February 2021, I was pregnant and the vaccine rollout was beginning. Even as a student midwife, I was apprehensive about my first jab. I was really torn and it was scary.
“In hospital we were seeing more and more poorly pregnant women come in with Covid, and I didn’t want that to be me.
“My partner Joss, 31, was pro-vaccine – no wonder, when we’d spent so long shielding due to him having Crohn’s disease. But it was a volunteer in the vaccination centre where I helped out who swung it for me.
“She pointed out that people had the same concerns over the flu jab when it arrived. I get vaccinated against flu every year, so why should this be any different?
“At 20 weeks, I had my first dose of Pfizer. As more studies confirmed that the vaccine was safe, there was no debate about getting my second shot in May. I had to protect myself, the people around me and my baby.
“All of the pregnant women I spoke to felt the same. Pandora was born full-term and healthy in July, a hefty 9lb 6oz too – a little sister for her brother Oswald, three.
“I’m on maternity leave now, running Parent Kind, which is my parent-coaching business.
“If any pregnant woman asks me about getting vaccinated, I tell them: it’s their choice but they and their baby are much safer with the vaccine than without.”
‘I worried about my immune system’
The potential side effects of having a Covid-19 vaccine niggled at the mind of Daniel Chowdhury, 38, a communications specialist in South East London.
A nasty accident that happened during the first lockdown, in May 2020, saw Daniel knocked off his bicycle.
Having been stuck indoors with a busted ankle, Daniel says, “I wasn’t really leaving my flat other than for medical appointments, so had got quite used to lockdown life.”
Then the Covid vaccines arrived. “The dilemma arose when I became eligible for my vaccine, because I was due to have a steroid injection for my ankle – so I didn’t want the jab because of possible side effects on my immune system.”
But as the weeks passed, he began to feel more comfortable about getting the vaccination, given how many of his friends and family members had got theirs with only mild side effects. He was a convert.
“Having the booster jab increases antibody levels, giving you the best possible chance to successfully fight the infection if you should come into contact with the virus,” Daniel says.
“It’s really important in allowing us all to return to our everyday way of life more quickly. Being sure that you are fully vaccinated is as safe as it gets.”
‘I thought it was just for older people’
Callum Tokody, 18, is a student in West London. As far as he was concerned, younger people didn’t need the jab. Then he became ill.
With a hectic schedule of school, social life and extracurricular activities, Callum felt he had more important things to do than get his Covid jab.
He says: “I didn’t think I needed to have the vaccine because only a few of my friends had got vaccinated, and I thought that initially coronavirus only affected people who were older.”
He adds: “I heard stories on social media of people having terrible reactions to the vaccine, so at first I didn’t want to get it.” That was until he caught Covid himself.
That was when he began to think again about the jab. After all, his mum had been vaccinated with no major side effects. It was time to have a word with himself.
Callum says: “When I became unwell, it was a sign to get the vaccine. Once I’d recovered, it didn’t take that long to get an appointment and I felt fine afterwards.
“I’ve since had all my vaccinations. My friends have as well. People need to get boosted because it protects you and everyone else too.”
Three more reasons to get the jab
- Shortly after having a booster, you are at least 85 per cent less likely to end up in hospital than if you are unvaccinated
- Pregnant women who get symptomatic Covid-19 are two to three times more likely to give birth prematurely
- It takes minutes to get your booster. It can take much longer to recover from Covid
Go to nhs.uk/covid-vaccination to book an appointment or to find a local walk-in vaccination centre
Northern Ireland covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated