This week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that the UK is “currently vaccinating more than double the rate – per person per day – than any other country in Europe.”
According to Vaccines Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi, around 140 jabs are being handed out every minute on average.
17 mass vaccine sites have now been set up across England – with more to come before the end of the month (which could amount to 50 in total).
It’s safe to say that the vaccine programme is well and truly rolling, now – and it couldn’t have hit momentum at a better time.
According to health officials, there are more people currently in hospital with COVID than at any previous point during the pandemic.
But the vaccine is, we’re repeatedly told by ministers, our route out of this.
More than 4 million people have received the jab so far, and the rest of the country is steadily moving forward in the queue – with Over 60s likely to be invited in the second half of February.
But whilst some people await their turn with anticipation, others are expressing a hesitancy due to pre-existing conditions such as allergies.
This is complicated further, of course, by the fact there are two different jabs to consider (soon to be three when the Moderna vaccine hits the UK in spring), which have slightly different makeup.
Dr Michael Barnish, Head of Nutrition & Genetics at REVIV, says the question he’s been asked most since the vaccine was rolled out is if the jab is safe for people with allergies.
“Historically, the number of true allergic reactions to vaccines is very low,” Dr Barnish tells us.
“In the United Kingdom, only one case of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) per million vaccine doses was reported between 1997 and 2003, with no fatalities at all.
“Many common side effects of vaccination such as localised pain and swelling at the site of injection or flu-like symptoms can be mistaken for allergy but are normal reactions to the vaccine.
“These normal reactions are not a reason to avoid the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.”
Dr Barnish has also stated that anyone who reacts badly to penicillin – one of the more common allergies to medicine – can safely receive either COVID jab.
The doctor adds that people with latex allergies, too, can have both vaccines – but should make their physician aware of their condition before going ahead.
“The Pfizer/BioNtech and AstraZeneca vaccines are supplied in vials that have a stopper made from synthetic forms of rubber, which does not contain any dry natural rubber (latex),” he explains.
“But it is still important to let your Healthcare Provider know about your latex allergy in order to ensure they do not use any latex containing products, like gloves, whilst treating you.”
People that have allergies to eggs, gelatine and dust mites are also safe to have either vaccine, Dr Barnish confirms.
The medical expert states that those who can’t eat fish are also ok to receive the jab – as the presence of any squalence will be in the form of a highly purified fat that doesn’t contain the proteins (which are what cause the allergic reaction).
Individuals that have a history of anaphylaxis to a medicine, food, insect bite/sting or vaccine can still receive either vaccine, as long as there are no known allergies to any of the vaccine’s components.
This advice comes directly after close surveillance of the initial rollout by the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA). It is recommended for individuals that have a history of anaphylaxis and have the Pfizer BioTech vaccine should be monitored and observed for at least 15 minutes after the vaccination is given.
Dr Barnish states: “For those that have already received your first vaccination, if you developed patches of itchy skin or a localised rash after this first dose, then guidance suggests that it is safe to have the second dose and this second dose is encouraged by current guidelines.
“My best advice, if you have an allergy is prior to having the vaccine, make sure that you are given the patient information leaflet of the chosen vaccine to read beforehand. This leaflet will contain vital information about who is safe to have the vaccine and will provide a complete list of ingredients.
“Discussion with the medical professional prior to giving the vaccine is also encouraged if you have any questions or concerns.”
Dr Michael Barnish is a medically-trained doctor specialising in preventative and regenerative medicine. He is currently Head of Genetics & Nutrition at REVIV.
Grealish holds his hands up over Almirón dig: ‘I do stupid stuff’
Jack Grealish has finally held his hands up after mocking Miguel Almirón, assuring that while he has made mistakes in career, he has a “good heart”.
Speaking to the media at the national camp in Qatar, the footballer was asked about his now-infamous dig at the Newcastle player, quipping that teammate Riyad Mahrez “played like Almirón” in a sub-par performance during Manchester City‘s 2021/22 title-winning match back in May.
Ironically, Grealish‘s Almiron joke has preceded an incredible run of form from the winger this year, arguably being their player of the season with eight goals to his name already.
Despite the 28-year-old insisting he has “never really paid attention” to what people say about him, he will have inevitably seen the viral clip.
Nevertheless, the England and City star took accountability for the unnecessary outburst, confessing, “I do stupid stuff, that was one”, whilst assuring: “Obviously I’ve done stupid stuff in my life but I think everything that I do good is from my heart.”
The 27-year-old went on to say that describe his Premier League peer as a “great player”, adding: “what a guy… if that was me and somebody had said that about me, I’d have probably been the other way and been like: ‘f*** it'”.
While he said he didn’t think the drunken video would go public, he knows it wasn’t the most professional of moments and that not only is he “buzzing” to see Almirón playing so well but that he will be sure to “show him the most respect” the next time they meet on the pitch.
Army ‘on standby’ as UK prepares for more postal, rail, lecturer and nurses strikes in December
The armed forces are said to be “on standby” to help fill various roles ahead of a new raft of strikes across health, education and postal sectors this month.
Royal Mail workers, university lecturers and sixth-form college staff are committed to walking out over pay disputes on Wednesday, 30 November as various organised strikes persist across the country.
Countless employees from various industries who feel they are underappreciated and underpaid are set to join the ongoing rail strikes, as well as the thousands of nurses expected to follow suit on the picket line throughout December.
Now, as per the interim chief executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery, given the strikes’ proximity to Christmas, roping in the British military now seems likely. Dr Emma Runswick of the British Medical Association said there is there a simple way to put an end to mass industrial action: pay people fairly.
Speaking to Sky News on Thursday morning, Cordery confirmed that while the army is waiting in the wings to help fill relevant NHS roles, “the reality is if the army or other armed forces step in it will very much be at the margins rather than going out and driving ambulances”.
It remains unclear whether army personnel will be needed to combat the impending labour shortage across other industries. Regardless, the Communication Workers Union are going ahead will a series of strikes in December.
Having formally called on Royal Mail employees to join the national demonstrations for strike action on the following days:
Friday, 9 December
Sunday, 11 December
Wednesday, 14 December
Thursday, 15 December
Friday, 23 December
Saturday, 24 December
As for rail workers, RMT Assistant General Secretary Eddie Dempsey shared a similar sentiment, assuring that while the train drivers and the transport sector, in general, are standing firm, negotiations with Network Rail and other operators continue this week.
In addition to RMT members across 14 rail companies striking on 13-14 and 16-17 December, as well as 3-4 and 6-7 January, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said that staff working onboard and station roles will take action against Avanti West Coast on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December.
Meanwhile, the National Education Union (NEU) which represents 77 sixth-form colleges in England are also striking over pay, stating that in real terms, teachers have suffered a pay cut of around 20% since 2010.
Furthermore, the University and College Union (UCU) already held a 48-hour strike last week and is now set to hold another 24-hour walkout among university staff. As well as organising a large rally in London, union members across at least 150 different institutions will be joining the December strikes.