Out of the Darkness... Paula's Message (22 January 2021)

21st January 2021 |

It is great that in these dark, wet and gloomy days we can feel increasingly hopeful regarding the vaccine roll-out programme. Although it will take time to roll out we must keep doing all the things to keep each other safe as the roll out programme is definitely gathering pace.

I know some people are anxious about getting the new vaccine and I would like to share some information that our friends in PSS have been sharing about the vaccine.

  • Vaccine development is faster now than it has ever been due to advances in science: just the same as mobile phones, laptops etc have improved massively over the years.
  • Scientists all over the world have been collaborating to get this vaccine developed as quickly as possible: in "normal" times, these scientists and pharma companies would be competing with each other. This collaboration has been key – we all know that we can achieve more through good teamwork. Best analogy I’ve heard is "if it takes one person 1000 days to knit a scarf, it will take 1000 people working together just one day to knit the same scarf".
  • Scientists were not starting from scratch: Coronaviruses (CoVs) are a family of viruses that cause respiratory and intestinal illnesses in humans and animals. They usually cause mild colds in people but the emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China in 2002–2003 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) on the Arabian Peninsula in 2012 showed they can also cause severe disease. Scientists were already working on SARS and MERS – they have just added to this research (like they were the 4th person in a relay race, not the one at the starting point).
  • Every year a new flu vaccine is developed (this has to be done because the virus causing it mutates every year). They can do this so quickly because they are not starting from scratch, just updating an existing model – like Apple can release a new iPhone every year. It’s a similar process with regards to the coronavirus vaccine – the scientists have worked on existing models and improved them.
  • The vaccines have gone through the same rigorous testing as any new medicine developed today: they’ve just had far more volunteers than they would normally (and it’s been done in global collaboration, not in isolation).
  • Testing for new drugs is more rigorous now than it has ever been: and the same is true of the licensing processes (if aspirin were discovered today it would not be licensed for over the counter purchase – it would only be available on prescription).
  • Out of millions of doses administered to date, very few severe side effects, including allergic reactions, have been reported. No long-term adverse effects have been reported.

Vaccine side effects are pretty much the same as those of the flu vaccine:

  • Heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had the injection – tends to be worst 1-2 days after the vaccine;
  • Feeling tired;
  • Headache;
  • General aches or mild flu-like symptoms.

If you do have a reaction to the vaccine this shows it’s working well and the immune system is responding. If you feel rough with small controlled reaction provided by the vaccine imagine how much worse it would be if you had a large uncontrolled reaction to the real thing?

We have written to all our local authorities, CCGs, MPs and other relevant people to put pressure on them that people we support and all people with learning disabilities should be classified in the top priority group and we will continue to press for the people we support to receive it as soon as possible and not just the people we support in residential settings.

To all the teams at Stanley Grange

On a positive note, I would like to thank all the teams at Stanley Grange who worked incredibly hard to organise and sort out all the logistics, so that last Saturday the vast majority of people who live at Stanley Grange, and the teams that were present, were able to get the first dose of the vaccine! This took a lot of organising, liaising with GPs and hard work! Well done everyone it was a brilliant achievement and really helps keep the people we support, and our teams, safe.

Another shout out I would like to give is to Mark “Duckers” Duxbury’s team. I am sure that many of you will already know that #teamduckers work really hard and, as seen on their twitter account, enable Mark to do the things he loves and really live out our values of going the extra mile.

Recently Mark got COVID-19 and was very poorly. So ill, that he ended up on intensive care. During this time his team stayed with him including being on the Intensive Care unit. As you can imagine, supporting someone on a COVID-19 Intensive Care unit must be really draining and at times scary and difficult as you are seeing, first hand, people struggling to survive. During this time his team truly lived out our values of putting Mark first and going the extra mile. They did not want him to be on his own and be scared so they stayed with him. #teamduckers were and are amazing!! With brilliant NHS care and his loyal values driven team, Mark is now out of hospital and recovering day-by-day!

These are only two examples of how amazing and values driven our teams are! Please send me (with photos) more examples of how our teams are living out our values during these times so we can give them a shout out and a public thank you.

I want to thank all our teams. We will get through this. We are on the last hurdles now and together, as always, get through this together.

Your work makes a real difference to people’s lives.

Thank you,

 

Paula.

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