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Vaccine Q&A with Eugene Milne

Why you should still follow the guidelines after your Covid vaccination

29.01.21

The vaccine roll-out gives us all hope, but did you know that having the vaccine doesn’t mean you’re ‘good to go’ and socialise with others.

Health experts have warned that even if you’ve had the vaccine, you must continue to stick to the rules - or risk another spike in cases. One dose alone does not make you immune, and it’s still not known if you can be a carrier of the virus, even with the vaccine.

Read our simple explainer, from Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health, to find out more about the vaccine and how it can help the North East to #BeatCovidNE.

The largest vaccination programme in British history is now currently underway. Millions of people across the UK have now received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and I’m incredibly proud that the North East has been leading the way with its roll out.

Currently, the target is to vaccinate every person in the top four priority groups by the middle of February, which would account for around 15 million in total. But what should you do once you’ve been vaccinated? And why have people who have been vaccinated been told not to hug family members once they’ve had the jab? Here’s everything you need to know:

Q. How effective is the Covid-19 vaccine?
Very effective. The first dose of the Covid vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the full two doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection. That’s why it’s really important that people come back for their second dose when invited at a later date.

However, like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection. This means that people may still get Covid-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.

There is also a chance you might also spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. It is therefore really important after your vaccination to continue social distancing, washing your hands and wearing a face covering.

Q. Why can’t I mix with others once I have had the vaccine?
It’s a mistake to think that it is safe to meet with people outside your household or bubble as soon as you receive the jab. Scientists have warned those who have been vaccinated to continue following precautions – which sadly means that we cannot immediately go out to hug our relatives and those outside of our household after receiving the vaccine. It’s going to take time before we can get back to that way of life.

This is because, although a full course of the vaccine will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19, it is not yet known whether being vaccinated will stop you from catching and passing on the virus to others.

So it’s really important that people stay on their guard, even if they’ve had that first vaccination.

Q. How can meeting with friends and family after I’ve received the vaccination lead to another spike in cases?
It’s important to stress first of all that the vaccine cannot give you the Covid-19 infection, and a full course will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill.

However, we do not yet know whether the vaccine will stop you from catching and passing on the virus, but we do expect it to reduce this risk.

This means if everyone rushed back to “normal” immediately after having a vaccine it could risk another surge in cases, and sadly deaths.
To continue protecting yourself and your family, friends and your community, after your vaccination you still need to:

• practice social distancing
• wear a face mask
• wash your hands carefully and frequently
• follow the guidance in your local area

Q. Why is it important to get your Covid-19 vaccination?
Whist some people may still get Covid despite having a vaccination, this should be less severe.

The Covid-19 vaccination should therefore help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services. I would urge everyone who is invited to get vaccinated to get it.

Q. How soon after I get my vaccine will things be back to normal?
Whilst the vaccine brings us all a ray of hope at the end of the Covid tunnel, not everything will change the second that syringe enters your arm. Returning to normal will be a much more gradual process.

In the meantime, I would advise everyone to continue with social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands. You can also get up to date information on guidance in your area here: https://gov.uk/coronavirus

Should people who have already had Covid get vaccinated? 
Yes, if they are in a priority group. The MHRA have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t.

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