COVID 19 VACCINATION INFORMATION
Be aware that information on COVID-19 and vaccines is changing daily. Your own GP can give you up to date advice on whether a vaccine is right for you based on your personal health circumstances. You will also have a clinical assessment when you attend for vaccination at any of the centers. This information has been published on 14/01/2021 please ensure you are following our most up to date information. The purpose of this publication is for information only. The British Polio Fellowship disclaims all liability for any claims, losses, damages, costs and expenses incurred as a result of reliance on this information. It is not a substitute for advice from your doctor, physiotherapist or other health care professional
From January 2021, the good news is that there are now three vaccines approved for use in the UK and the NHS has started a large scale vaccination program across the country. This aims to offer a first dose of vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups by the 15th February; many of our members will be in this first phase, but not all. The vaccinations will take place in hospital hubs, local vaccination services led by GP teams, and large scale vaccination centers.
Covid-19 vaccine roll out and polio
The trials to date have reported very few safety issues and no evidence to suggest that people who have had polio or have PPS should not take the COVID 19 vaccine if offered. Most people in the UK who had polio are over 65 and are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, so the clinical experts advising the BPF believe that they should have the vaccine unless advised otherwise by their health care professional.
The NHS are offering the vaccine first to people who live in care homes and care home workers, to people over 80 yrs, and to health and social care workers.
Younger women should be aware of the advice for women who are pregnant which has been updated. This says there is no known risk associated with giving non-live vaccines during pregnancy. However, the COVID-19 vaccines have not been tested yet in pregnancy. "As a matter of caution, COVID-19 vaccine is therefore not routinely advised in pregnancy but there are some circumstances in which the potential benefits of vaccination are particularly important for pregnant women. This may include women who are at very high risk of catching the infection or those with certain medical conditions that put them at high risk of suffering serious complications from COVID-19 infection. In such circumstances, a woman may choose to have COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy following a discussion with her doctor or nurse." (see link below)
Does having had polio or the polio vaccine give immunity?
You may have heard reports suggesting that having had polio gives immunity to COVID-19 - this is not backed by any clinical evidence.
You may have also heard reports that the polio vaccine gives immunity - again, this has no clinical backing. (In fact, most people in the UK are given the polio vaccine , so if the polio vaccine did give immunity - there would have been no COVID 19 epidemic in the UK). What has been discussed is that receiving live vaccines might possibly give protection against other diseases, but this has not been proven. The World Health Organization does not recommend the live oral polio vaccine (OPV) for the prevention of COVID-19.
Will I be given priority because I had polio?
Polio/PPS is not specifically on the list of conditions that is considered to make people clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and the BPF will continue to advocate for this to happen. However, members may be offered the vaccine sooner as they may fall in the priority vaccine list , such as is they live in a care home or are over 80yrs.
Some people who had polio will have significant respiratory (breathing) problems or other health conditions not related to polio which may make them clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable. For advice on your individual suitability for or benefit from the vaccine, you should consult your GP ensuring they understand your polio and other medical history. They will be able to take into account your personal health risk and will have the latest information on the vaccine.
Will we still need to take precautions after being vaccinated?
The government advice still is in place to take precautions around 'Hands, Face, Space'. Even after the vaccine is rolled out, it will take time for an immune response to build up and for the NHS to determine how long the protection lasts. No vaccine is 100% effective and some people who have been vaccinated may be unaware that they are still susceptible to infection or spreading the virus.
The NHS advice is that after vaccination, everyone should continue to follow 'Hands, Face, Space' and everyone must continue to follow all the measures in place to reduce contact with the virus until advised otherwise by the government.
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Information on safety of COVID-19 vaccines when given in pregnancy - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safety-of-covid-19-vaccines-when-given-in-pregnancy/the-safety-of-covid-19-vaccines-when-given-in-pregnancy
Other sources: Joint Committee for Vaccine and Immunisation, the UK government website for information on priority groups, UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan - accessed 13/1/2021