Month: January 2021

Your Covid-19 vaccine questions answered

My gran has had both her jabs. Once lockdown has ended, can I go and see her?

Once lockdown ends and the prohibition on people from different households mixing indoors stops, including for the clinically extremely vulnerable, you would be able to visit your grandmother. However, it may be some time before this happens.

I’ve been shielding on my own. Once I’ve had the vaccine will I be able to form a bubble with other family members?

You would need to continue to follow any lockdown rules that are in place in your local area even after you have had two doses of the vaccine.

I’ve had my first vaccine – can I hug my grandchildren?

One vaccination offers only partial protection. Two vaccinations are needed for maximum protection. Even after receiving two doses of vaccine, you would still need to follow any lockdown rules that were in place in your local area.

Can my employer force me to get vaccinated?

It’s unlikely that employers could force you to get vaccinated but they could recommend vaccination for staff who have public-facing roles that place them at increased risk of infection.

Everyone in my mum’s care home has had the vaccine. Should they allow relatives to visit without a screen?

Relatives will continue to need to be screened for now because the Covid-19 vaccines are not 100% effective even after two doses and some vaccinated people can still get infected. The risk of serious illness, complications and death is very high in people living in care homes and we have to be particularly cautious with this group.

Can I still be fined for breaking the rules if I show my vaccine card?

A vaccine card does not exempt you from following any local or national rules that are in place; so yes, you can be fined for breaking lockdown rules even if you have proof of vaccination.

Once everyone has been vaccinated, might there be places those who have refused the vaccine aren’t allowed?

It’s possible that some places might implement this policy. For example, some cruise companies have said they will require proof of vaccination from customers.

Will I need to show proof of my vaccine to travel abroad?

It’s possible that some countries will require proof of vaccination before allowing you to travel there but this will vary from country to country.

If I’ve had my vaccine will I still have to self-isolate if I’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive?

If you have been in recent contact with someone who has tested positive, you would still need to self-isolate for 10 days because at this point, we don’t know if vaccination stops you being infectious.

When will we know if the vaccine just stops you getting symptoms or stops you actually getting infected?

It will take some time for research to establish this. We may find out later in 2021.

If one of my employees has been vaccinated, should I consider him/her for a role that has a higher risk of infection?

Employers should risk assess staff before placing them in a specific role. My view is that vaccination should not be used as a reason for placing potentially clinically vulnerable staff in high-risk roles that expose them to a greater risk of infection.

I’m a piano teacher. Can I advertise for students using my proof of vaccination to show I’m Covid free?

Vaccination does not guarantee that you will be “Covid-free”. You would need to continue to follow any lockdown rules that are in place in your local area.

My Medical and Public Health Wish List for 2021

2020 was a difficult year for many people all over the world (if only we had the benefit 20-20 hindsight at the start of the year). Here is a list of 10 developments I would like to see in 2021.

1. A much better government response to the Covid-19 pandemic with interventions introduced at the right time and correct scale.
2. A rapid rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme so that target groups such as older people, those with long-term health problems, NHS staff and other key workers such as teachers and people working in high-risk occupations can be protected.
3. Awareness that the Covid-19 pandemic must be ended globally, not just in richer countries, and ensuring that people across the globe have access to the vaccines that will be introduced in 2021.
4. Better government policies to address key health challenges and risk factors for poor health such as poor diets, lack of exercise, and obesity; along with the wider determinants of health such as housing, education, poverty, and employment.
5. Greater support for our schools and teachers who have been outstanding in 2020 in trying to keep children educated during the midst of a global pandemic.
6. Respect for science and a reduction in the anti-science conspiracy theories that are some common on social media and in everyday conversations.
7. Greater support and recognition of the role played by primary care in ensuring good access to healthcare and improved health outcomes globally.
8. A positive relationship with our European neighbours and with the European Union.
9. An adequate replacement for the ERASMUS programme so that or students can benefit from the social, cultural and education opportunities that placements at universities in other European countries can bring.
10. An improvement in the IT systems that staff working in the NHS have to use. Poor IT leads to high levels of stress among NHS staff, and wastes valuable time and money that could be used to better effect elsewhere.

This is just a small list. Let me know what’s on your wish list for 2021.

Returning to physical activity after a Covid-19 infection

In an article published in the British Medical Journal, we discuss returning to physical activity after a Covid-19 infection. A risk-stratification approach can help maximise safety and mitigate risks, and several factors need to be taken into account. First, is the person physically ready to return to activity? In the natural course of Covid-19, deterioration signifying severe infection often occurs at around a week from symptom onset. Therefore, consensus agreement is that a return to exercise or sporting activity should only occur after an asymptomatic period of at least seven days, and it would be pragmatic to apply this to any strenuous physical activity. English and Scottish Institute of Sport guidance suggests that, before re-initiation of sport for athletes, activities of daily living should be easily achievable and the person able to walk 500 metres on the flat without feeling excessive fatigue or breathlessness. However, we recommend considering the person’s pre-illness baseline, and tailoring guidance accordingly.