Camden, London – Healthwatch Camden hosted the ‘Ask about the COVID-19 vaccine’ event – accessible online and by phone – for residents living in the London Borough of Camden on 16th February 2021.
The event was organised for members of the public and local partners to engage with Camden’s GPs, public health specialists and other NHS leaders. Over 140 people attended, many of whom reported difficulty in obtaining answers to their questions elsewhere.
72% of attendees learnt something new about the COVID-19 vaccine after hearing from the panellists, and around 1 in 5 reported being more likely to get the vaccine as a result of attending the event.
Commenting on the event, Matthew Parris, Director of Healthwatch Camden said:
“We’ve received feedback from local people that they don’t currently have enough information about the vaccine. Some have been worried about having to make a decision, and unaware of whom to approach to get their concerns addressed.”
“With much misinformation circulating about the vaccine, we are glad to know that this event has allowed people to get their questions answered directly by experts and that it’s provided accurate first-hand information to help people make an informed decision.”
The panellists at the event were –
- Piers Simey, Acting Director of Public Health for Camden, Camden & Islington Public Health.
- Simon Wheatley, Assistant Director, Primary & Community Commissioning, Camden Directorate, North Central London CCG.
- Dr Ammara Hughes, Partner Bloomsbury Surgery and Clinical Director Central Camden PCN.
- Dr Archana Tina Agrawal, Museum Practice.
- Dr Frances Baawuah, Brondesbury Medical Centre.
The event was moderated by Dr Louise Jones, Healthwatch Camden Chair. A BSL interpreter was available and translated the event for several participants.
Residents had a variety of questions for the panel, from understanding the ingredients of the vaccine, to its effectiveness, and the potential side-effects. They were also keen to understand how the vaccine was being rolled-out across the borough and its availability.
The panel addressed the concerns of the attendees and encouraged residents to take the COVID-19 vaccine, if they are eligible, as it is safe to use and, is crucial to ending the pandemic.
Safety of the COVID-19 vaccine
The panel assured the audience that the COVID-19 vaccine has gone through vigorous checks and balances as with any other vaccine and is approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). They also expressed their confidence about the long-term safety of the vaccine and confirmed that there are no biological, virus, foetal or human products of any kind present in the vaccine. As there is a lot of misinformation going around about the Covid-19 vaccine, they urged people to fact-check any information either through the website of Public Health England or by asking a reliable source.
Two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine
Addressing the concerns of residents regarding the extended period between the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, the panel confirmed that the WHO has endorsed the decision by the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers on deferring the second dose from 3 weeks to 12 weeks. The panel assured attendees that the first dose does provide excellent immunity for the community, so it is important that the eligible people do get their first dose to minimise their risk of Covid-19 infection and serious disease. Additionally, for many vaccines, an extended period between the first and the second dose does lead to a better immune response.
The Covid-19 vaccine in Camden
Piers Simey announced that, so far, around 30,000 Camden residents have been vaccinated since the start of the vaccination programme on 8th December 2020 and the number has been growing quickly. The panel also urged residents to share information about their needs with their local GP practice so that proper preparations in terms of travel to the site or accessibility can be arranged for the patients.
This was the third in a series of events organised by Healthwatch Camden since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, to encourage open dialogue between the residents of Camden and their NHS services. Residents are being encouraged to sign up to get notifications on future events and opportunities.
Residents can visit the Healthwatch Camden website (www.healthwatchcamden.co.uk) next week to view a summary of the event, a recording, and a transcript – or call 020 7383 2402 for more information.
Notes to editors-
- Healthwatch is an independent watchdog created to gather and represent the views of the public. Healthwatch plays a role at both the national and local level to ensure that the views of people that use services are taken into account. It provides a collective voice for health and social care users in Camden.
- Healthwatch Camden has a seat on Camden’s Health and Wellbeing Board and can alert Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to concerns about services.
- Local Healthwatch functions and powers are set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. This includes the power to refer its concerns to the local Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
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