COVID-19 Vaccine Positive Impact
By Lyndsey Downes
Service Director and Vaccination Lead for Creative Support
Championing COVID-19 Vaccine Heroes!
It has been while since my last blog, so I wanted to contact you, to thank you for your COVID-19 vaccine efforts! It’s great to see such a fantastic uptake across Creative Support, and I am so proud of everyone for working to keep each other safe.
The 8th March marked International Women’s Day, which was followed by the saddening story of Sarah Everard, who went missing while walking home from her friends house – this sparked a social media movement of sorrow and solidarity from women across the UK. It had me thinking about how amazing the women in my life are, and reminded me of some of the women I have discovered during my research into the COVID-19 vaccine. I wanted to share a few words about this with you today.
Women have played a strong part in the drive to develop and administer the COVID-19 Vaccine, and in particular, the efforts of women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have been pivotal in this effort.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director of primary care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, is one of the women who has been vital in this campaign. A GP with a senior role in the NHS, and a mother of 2 young children she has been integral in setting out the health service’s “blueprint” to tackle vaccine hesitancy.
“As we reach the next stage of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, we are faced with fighting dual epidemics: COVID and misinformation, particularly around the vaccine” – Dr Kanani.
It’s no suprise that Dr Nikki Kanani is so passionate, her upbringing led her to an early grounding in medicine. Her father Jagdishbhai, fled Uganda for Britain as a teenager in 1972, a year after Idi Amin started his brutal regime of terror that resulted in 60,000 East African Asians being driven out of the country. He met his wife, Keerti, now 65, at Sunderland Polytechnic, and they later set up a high street pharmacy in Croydon.
Dr Nikki is a perfect example anyone can achieve anything.
Last year, when the London Marathon was cancelled, she walked 60 miles to where her father spent his first six months in Britain in a refugee camp, raising £14,000 for charity.
When asked about her contribution to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, she told the BBC ‘I’m happy to admit I’ve been in tears many times more in the last couple of months than I should have been…Seeing what it means to individuals is really quite incredible. Every vaccine we give makes a phenomenal difference.’
The feedback from real life studies of the effectiveness of the vaccine must leave the professionals involved in its development and roll out so overwhelmingly proud. Here is a quick round up of facts I have discovered this week…
• A study from Israel found that Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE’s coronavirus vaccine prevented 97% of symptomatic cases, hospitalizations and deaths. It was also 94% effective at blocking asymptomatic cases of infection, suggesting the jab can help reduce transmission.
• Unvaccinated people are 44 times more likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19, and 29 times more likely to die from the disease (than those who had been vaccinated) These figures are based on adults, 2 weeks after their second dose!
• I was also so happy read that the UK are expecting an extra 10 million doses this week, and are looking to open up vaccines to over 50s, followed by over 30’s in April and then over 18’s in May!
There is still time to book your appointment and receive your COVID-19 Vaccine payment from Creative Support!
Be a vaccine advocate for our Creative Support service users!
As the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to gather momentum, Creative Support must make a real effort to capture this, encouraging our Managers and Senior Staff to support the people we care for with any concerns they may have. In our Mental Health accommodation or floating support services, we may be the only form of support many service users have. They may not have access to reliable information to help support their decision, and may seek advice from us.
Some of our service users may ask:
- How do I book my appointment?
- How do I know I am eligible?
- When and where will I get my vaccine?
- I am worried about this…can you reassure me?
- I take medication for my mental health, is the vaccine still safe?
Once they have made their appointment, they may ask:
- How do I get there?
- What do I need to take with me?
- Can you help me make a list of all the medication I take?
- Can someone come with me for my appointment?
- I’m worried about injections, can I have a longer slot?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation say that people with underlying health conditions are a priority group. This includes people living with severe mental illness.
This week, I am going to send a number of easy read myth busting documents and a proposed vaccine advocacy letter for service users. I would like to encourage the following actions throughout our Creative Support services –
- Write a warm, informative and encouraging letter to all of your service users, sharing appropriate literature regarding the vaccine
- Contact GPs for health information relating to specific service user concerns – some GPs have been making calls to their caseloads to help with this
- Have a vaccine day/week where all 1-2-1 and key working sessions focus on the vaccines and the benefits of accepting it when their time arrives
- Consider holding some service user Zoom sessions – I am happy to help!
- Create a log of all service users, as commissioners may want to know this data
- Tell your commissioners how proactive we are being!
If you have any best practice ideas, or good news stories regarding this, please do get in touch. I’d love to include your feedback in upcoming blogs.
As of today, 64 of our Creative Support services across the country have 90%-100% of their staff vaccinated…let’s get that number higher and help fight COVID-19 together!
We are really proud that so many of our workforce have taken their opportunity as Frontline Workers to have their COVID-19 vaccination. By doing this, you are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting the people you care for, your friends, family and your local community. I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you!
I am delighted that there are many of our services who have 90%-100% of their staff vaccinated already. These services have been listed below. There appears to be some regions who are clearly forging the path for others to follow and there are a significant number of services who are still yet to reach this target.
So if you aren’t listed below, let’s all make a collective effort over the coming weeks to achieve this, allowing you to claim your COVID-19 vaccine payment (the deadline for this is 31st March for your first dose). Each staff member who has their vaccine will also receive a limited edition Creative Support tote bag as an additional thank you – these will be distributed to individuals directly.
Hopefully some of the information I have shared over the last 10 days have helped in regards worries you may have about the vaccine, but if you have still decided to decline your invitation, you will be able to talk this through further in your Coronavirus Vaccine Supervision with your manager.
Werneth House, Lingfield Avenue, Shaw Heath, Wilshaw House, Union Street, Birch Lane Project, Manley Road, Beech House Prestwich, Bury Domiciliary, Crag House, May Road, Westfileds, Mersey Square, Salford Mental Health Services, Thatch Leach, 56 Ratcliffe Street, Haldon Road, Seamons Road, Warwick Drive, Westgate, Alba Close
Whitfield Loge, Northumberland Avenue, Woodland Road, Thyme Lodge, Blackpool LD, Bredon Respite, Birchwood Drive, Lambert Road
Creative Coffee, Downham Grove, Durham Floating Support, Eastgarth, Edwards Court, Innovation Court, Kenilworth, Middlesbrough Floating Support, Northwold, Oxford Crescent, Redcar Floating Support, Swanway, The Penthouse, Valley Gardens, Attwood, Stockton Home Care, Borrowdale, Durham Road, Gateshead Floating Support
Benholme, Central Drive, Vale House, Summit Avenue, Barrow homecare
Castle Rigg, Greenland Drive, Meadowbrook Road, Derby Mental Health, Grove Place
Moocroft Centre, The Wickets, West View, Pepper Mill, Mosswood, Lea Hall Place, West View, Leonora Street, Stoke
Yorkshire and Humberside:
Pelham House, Rose Buddies, Warwick House
If you believe your service has achieved our goal of having 90%-100% of staff vaccinated, and you haven’t been listed, please contact email@example.com so we can include you in our data.
Why we all should be encouraging service users to get the COVID-19 Vaccine when invited…
Over the weekend I was touched to read a story by Jo Whiley, BBC Radio DJ regarding her sister, who has sadly contracted COVID-19 and has been hospitalised.
Jo wrote a moving piece on her social media about her sister, Frances. She seemed to be well following her diagnoses, but when the care home she lives in invested in an oximeter, it alerted them to her worryingly low oxygen levels and she was admitted to hospital. Due to a number of complex issues, she is resistant to sedation which means that treatment for COVID-19 for her is not as easy as it may be for you or I.
Frances has a number of complex behaviours and needs, and Jo has reflected on how much they longed to bring her home, to look after her and also the difficulties that brings. I am sure many of our service user families can empathise with this. Jo also talks on her social media about the importance of ensuring that service users with LD are prioritized for their vaccine. I completely agree with her.
The approach to this does seem to be somewhat regional. In my own services, some supported living services have been fully vaccinated (service users and staff) whilst others have not. I have reached out to all of my commissioners, some with great success and others with little reply. I wont stop. Some of our supported living services and small houses, with shared facilities are home to older adults with multiple health issues, as well as a learning difficulty or mental health diagnoses. In reality, they are at significant risk should they contract COVID-19.
The report, Deaths of people identified as having learning disabilities with COVID-19 in England in the Spring of 2020 examined data from The English Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) and NHS England’s COVID-19 Patient Notification System (CPNS) which records deaths in hospital settings.
It found 451 per 100,000 people registered as having a learning disability died with COVID-19 between 21 March and 5 June, a death rate 4.1 times higher than the general population after adjusting for other factors such as age and sex. But as not all deaths in people with learning difficulties are registered on these databases, researchers estimated the real rate may have been as high as 692 per 100,000, 6.3 times higher.
This is a truly devastating statistic but sadly, not a huge surprise.
LeDeR state that those with a learning difficulty are likely to die 15 to 20 years earlier than an adult without a learning difficulty. This is thought to be because of the failure to report early symptoms, the management of health conditions and also a system that doesn’t always favour those who cant self advocate.
Sadly, it isn’t just our service users with LD we need to advocate for. I personally emailed the vaccine minister to highlight the plight of our service users with MH conditions and those with housing related support needs. In the email I noted that the Gov.UK report “Pre existing Mental health conditions spotlight” further adds to our concerns citing:
- Adults with pre existing MH conditions appear to be at greater risk of death and hospitalisation from COVID-19 than the general population
- People with a psychiatric disorder have been more likely to be to be diagnosed with, hospitalised and die from COVID-19 than people without a psychiatric disorder
- An NHS foundation trust in London reported 1,109 excessed deaths amongst those with pre existing MH conditions between 1 March and 20 June 20220 and COVID-19 was the underlying cause in 64% of this excess with the others unaccounted for.
Our staff are working tirelessly, face to face to keep our service users safe and have been amazing at taking up their own vaccines. We are working with service users who often do not want to, or can not understand the basics of hands’ face and space, meaning they are at a higher risk to the transmission of COVID-19. I would urge all of our services and managers to consider approaching their local lead for vaccines if their service users have not yet received an invitation, and advocate on their behalf. It could save a life. Please all join me in keeping positive thoughts for Frances and our own service users currently battling this terrible disease.
Why everyone should get the COVID-19 Vaccine…
We are proud to employ and support a diverse workforce, so it is a great concern that recent statistics suggest that those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are significantly less likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine.
I manage a number of employees from a range of different cultures who, thankfully have been more than willing to accept their invitation to have the vaccine – recognising the benefits it will bring to themselves, their families, as well as their colleagues and the people they support.
Stephen Bailey, an extra care Support Worker in London wanted to share his story:
“I took the opportunity to have the vaccine as part of the Vaccination Programme for Front Line Staff being offered by local authority via the service I work. My reasons for doing so were to protect myself from contracting COVID-19, also it would help me to fight off the virus if I should contract it in the future.
I was hesitant to take the vaccine at first, but after listening and reading about people who took the vaccine, who said they felt fine after taking the jab, I felt reassured. Following the vaccine, I did experience cramping in my legs, but I followed the advice given by the Nurse, by taking Paracetamol and the pain subsided. Since having the vaccine a month ago, I feel ok and have not experienced no other issues or symptoms.”
The Office for National Statistics has said Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are up to twice as likely to die from having COVID-19 than their white peers, even when age, underlying health conditions and other factors have been considered.
Yet figures show that in England, just 175,053 Black people (8.7% of that population) had the vaccine, when more than nine million white people were given their first and second doses (up to 7th February), covering 18.4% of that population. People from Asian and mixed ethnicity backgrounds are also less likely to have been vaccinated, with 11.2% and 7.7% of those groups receiving a jab respectively within the same timeframe.
I am pleased to read that the Government has started to act on this intelligence. A prime time advert is set to air which seeks to directly address misinformation and actors Adil Ray and Meera Syal, cricketer Moeen Ali and comedian Romesh Ranganathan are among celebrities who have joined forces to counter COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in ethnic minority communities – you can watch the video here.
Everyone I have spoken to fully agrees that misinformation about the vaccine must not be permitted to spread through communities. False information and myths shared online cost lives.
I was so pleased to read that:
- Health Care Workers from areas with high populations of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are going out into their communities to talk directly to people with concerns
- Faith groups are working with their local health services to host virtual events to reassure and respond to peoples vaccine apprehensions
- Vaccine information is available in 20 languages
- The vaccine does not contain animal products
- There is no evidence to suggest the vaccine can affect fertility
- The vaccine does not contain the live virus itself – only harmless elements from it. These elements are the only way you can boost your immunity against COVID-19
- The vaccine was only available so quickly, due to the global effort behind producing it
- There are no cases of significant side effects from the millions of people who have received this vaccine
Why you should get the COVID-19 Vaccine even if…
“I’m worried it will impact my fertility”
“I am breastfeeding”
Being a mother myself, I feel I can offer some empathy to staff who are debating whether to have the COVID-19 vaccine if they are of child bearing age, or indeed pregnant. If I were contemplating having children in the near future, or was breast feeding, I too would want to arm myself with knowledge and facts to allow me to make the right decision for myself.
As this is a new vaccine, the UK appears to have taken a fairly conservative approach in the first trials when it comes to including women who were pregnant. I think this has left people some-what skeptical, and perhaps has fueled anxieties due to it’s sensitive and emotive impact. This false information could have a catastrophic impact on the uptake of the vaccine among our younger, female, staff. These are also worryingly the same staff who are at increase risk of Long COVID.
After extensive research on the matter, I wanted to share some of the information I have found, from very reliable sources. Hopefully it will give piece of mind and confidence to those with concerns…
The vaccination is only currently being offered to health and social care workers (including carers for older adults in residential care homes) who are at higher risk of catching Covid-19 and those with serious medical conditions who have a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are eligible, will also be offered the vaccine
There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women’s fertility.
Mr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, released a statement to support this, stating that “We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of the COVID-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data.” Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated have gone on to have fertility problems.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that the vaccine can be received whilst breastfeeding.
– this is in line with recommendations in the USA and from the World Health Organization. The COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant, and the benefits of breastfeeding are well known.
Prof Lucy Chappell, a professor in obstetrics at King’s College London and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said “The vaccine works by sending a message to the body with a blueprint, allowing it to manufacture a small, harmless fragment of the coronavirus’s distinctive “spike“.
Prof Nicola Stonehouse, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said there was “no possible way” she could think of “that this could have an impact on reproductive health.”
I would urge any of our staff who have questions about this, to seek the support of a medical professional who would be more than willing to answer their queries around the lack of impact the COVID-19 vaccine has on fertility. This will allow everyone to make decisions that is both well informed, and right for them.
Myth Busting: Why you should get the vaccine
Why you should get the COVID-19 Vaccine even if…
“I’ve already had COVID-19”
“I am young, fit and healthy with no underlying health issues”
As promised, I wanted to share some research I have been doing into COVID-19 vaccines, in the hope it will bust some myths and help more people feel confident to book their appointment and get vaccinated.
Our staff have told us that one of the reasons they refused their vaccine invitation, is that they have either already had COVID-19, or are young and fit with no underlying health issues – so they feel they would be unlikely to be unwell, or die if they were to contract the virus.
I wanted to look today at why it’s still so important for people who are fit and healthy, with no underlying health conditions, to have their vaccine if offered.
With natural immunity, you don’t have the choice of how your body fights COVID-19.
Below is some advise from Dr Esmerelda, an Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology doctor, who shares helpful information in her blog and on social media, to help us better understand the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Clinical trials of vaccines available to us report that the combined T cell and antibody response from having the vaccine offers almost certainty that your body will receive the correct “signals” to inform the rest of your immune system. This is great news if you are exposed to COVID-19, as you can be reassured that you are very unlikely to become unwell, or require hospital treatment.
Not everyone with a natural infection (from previous positive COVID-19 contraction) will be able to maintain high enough levels of antibodies to fight COVID-19 if they come into contact with it again. Those who are vaccinated likely will. Even better, the vaccine will do this without the risks and illness associated with catching COVID-19!
According to the Office for National Statistics, adults aged 35 to 49 years were most likely to test positive for COVID-19 in the week ending 6 February 2021. The ‘ZOE’ COVID App estimated that 1 in 20 of all infections will go on to develop what is now known as Long COVID.
The impact may be less likely to end in death or hospitalisation, however those with Long COVID can experience debilitating symptoms that last for months despite not being hospitalised. This could have a detrimental impact not only among our work force, but also in wider society.
King’s College London have completed a study into Long COVID and report that:
- It occurs in all age groups, affecting around 10% of 18-49 year olds (and 22% of over 70s)
- Body weight plays a role, with people developing long COVID having a slightly higher average BMI than those with short COVID.
- Men are more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19, however women appear to be slightly more likely to suffer from long COVID than men (14.5% compared with 9.5%), but only in the younger age group.
(The full study can be found here)
By getting vaccinated, you not only protect yourself, you protect those around you and help to reduce transmission in your community.
Book your COVID-19 vaccine appointment here
Claim your Creative Support COVID-19 Vaccine payment here
Several national surveys suggest people from Black, Asian and minority backgrounds are far more likely to reject having the Covid-19 vaccine than their white counterparts. So tomorrow, I will be sharing information in relation to this. If you would like to share your vaccination story – please get in touch.
COVID-19 Vaccine Positive Impact
As a Service Director, a Mother of a school age son, a daughter, a sister and a friend, I have been impacted by the Covid Pandemic in many ways. Both personally and professionally, it has been a challenging few months to say the least. During this period, I have reflected with my teams on the absolute joys that have been witnessed, but also supported them through the sad events of losing service users and colleagues. This is something that has really hit me hard. Like many of you, I think I came into social care due to being someone who was caring and supportive and believed in positive outcomes.
It’s for this reason that I feel so passionate that we should take the opportunity to have the Covid vaccine, and how this will positively impact not only ourselves, but our service users, families and friends.
This week I am going to share some of the information that I have found helpful when doing my own research around the vaccine. Hopefully this will support anyone who may have concerns, or need to talk over their views and feelings on the matter.
In December, the UK became the first Western country to authorise a Covid-19 vaccine – a real pivotal moment in the global fight against coronavirus.
Britain has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the highest death toll in Europe. So seeing that we now have multiple approved vaccines and have vaccinated over 15 million people in the highest priority groups brings me a lot of joy and hope.
Creative Support have been proud to do all we can to encourage our staff to have the vaccine, offering £150 for contracted staff and £50 for bank staff (up to 31st March 2021) to show our thanks for helping us to support this national effort.
Our aim to vaccinate 90% of our staff and service users appears to be in line with the national picture, which is fantastic to see. Boris Johnson this week shared that over 90% of everyone over 75 and over 90% of eligible residents of care homes for the elderly have now been vaccinated. Whilst this news is brilliant, and we must feel proud to have been part of this effort, I am sure many of us share the Governments concerns that there are still nearly two million people, (a population roughly twice the size of Birmingham) who are eligible and haven’t yet had a vaccination.
There are of course many reasons why, but misinformation seems to be at the heart of this. Some of the reassuring messages I have shared with my own staff teams are that:
– There are very few side affects – a sore arm and in some cases a mild headache that will soon subside
– You can’t catch Covid from the vaccine
– There is no evidence the vaccine effects fertility
– The vaccines do not have any animal components in them
– The JCVA who approved the vaccine approved all of the vaccines you would have had as a child, they are reputable and knowledgeable and were only able to approve the vaccine so fast due to the global effort and resources.
– Those who are not elderly have still been impacted by Covid and have a vital part to play in protecting the more vulnerable in society. By protecting themselves from Covid and Long Covid, they will also contribute to the easing of social restrictions.
We have been overwhelmed with good news stories, and many of our services now have 100% of staff and service users who have had their first dose of the vaccine.
– In Sheffield – both our mental health and learning disability service have seen a 100% uptake of all staff.
– In the North East, our services in Borrowdale Mills, Edwards Court, Amersham, Downham, Welldeck and Northwold too have achieved 100% staffing uptake
I know that we still have more to do, to continually challenge misinformation and ensure our managers and senior staff know the facts. This will enable them to support and reassure staff so they can hopefully overcome their worries.
The current levels of uptake give me genuine hope of maintaining services to be as safe as they can be and will help to ensure our staff and services users are protected from further impact of this pandemic.
Today, more than 1 million over 65’s will receive a letter to encourage them to access the national booking service. If you, a service user or family member are in any of these top 5 priority groups, then please go ahead and use the service.
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- All those 80 years of age and over, andfrontline health and social care workers
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- All those 65 years of age and over
The national Booking service can easily be accessed by calling 119 or using this link. Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination – NHS (www.nhs.uk)