Community leaders, representatives, and a wide range of South Leeds residents are rallying together to encourage everyone to take up the opportunity to get vaccinated against Covid-19 (also known as Coronavirus) in the coming weeks and months.
Ten months on from the Covid-19 pandemic going global and turning the world upside down, nations and communities everywhere are battling to defeat the virus, and move on. The long-anticipated development of vaccines is seen by many as the single most significant step to do so.
But at the same time, some people seem hesitant about whether the vaccines can be trusted – and in some places, like India, the whole vaccine programme is faltering.
Barriers include: the fear of side-effects and allergic reactions; concerns that the vaccines were rushed through without standard checks, or contain pork or cow products; ‘needle phobia’; the assumption that the pandemic is already subsiding; and other far-fetched theories that the vaccine is being used by powerful groups and individuals like Bill Gates to control or harm the world population.
Vaccines though (also known as immunisations) have played a huge part in saving lives, since a British doctor – Edward Jenner – first started inoculating people against smallpox in 1796. Numerous major diseases – killers like polio, tuberculosis and measles – have been brought under control by large-scale vaccination programmes. Now medical professionals across the world are speaking out loud and clear to allay the fears people might have about these Covid-19 vaccines.
Like every other major country in the world , the UK is undertaking a huge nation-wide programme, aiming to offer accessible and free vaccination to every adult (50 million) by July, and the 15 million most vulnerable by mid February. World Health Organisation researchers estimate that 60-70% of any given population need to become resistant to Covid-19 to develop so-called ‘herd immunity’, and stop the virus in its tracks.
Some of those locally helping to push for vaccination take-up commented as follows…
Minnie Rahman (NHS staff nurse, Beeston):
“Cases are so high, I’m a complete advocate for getting the vaccination.”
Serge Kouob (Academic researcher, Beeston):
“I’m dismayed by the disinformation being circulated in my church, and other faith communities. Covid-19 has inflicted damage on every aspect of our lives, and the vaccine’s the only way to come back to normal life.”
Hilary Benn (MP, Leeds Central):
“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect those we love, and get back to normal life.”
Sanchita Doshi (Hunslet):
“I’ve been suffering from Long Covid since March 2020, it’s taken away months of my life, and been very very stressful. Please get your vaccine, so we can all protect ourselves and each other from this horrible virus.”
Angela Gabriel (Councillor, Beeston and Holbeck):
“I’m an ex-nurse, and the science says yes. You may not trust the government, but do trust the NHS.”
Paul Mattison (city centre resident and business owner):
“It’s essential we all stand together, and undertake this small sacrifice to protect our families, friends and loved ones from this horrid virus.”
Pat McGeever (CEO, Health for All):
“The vaccination programme is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel, and I’m embracing the offer of the vaccine wholeheartedly.”
Mohammed Iqbal (Councillor, Hunslet and Riverside):
“There’s so much unfounded negativity on social media about the vaccine, but it’s all myths. Listen to the NHS, protect yourself and your neighbours, and save lives.”
Andy Gamble (Headteacher, Music Federation in Hunslet and Belle Isle):
“We’ve all worked so hard to get this far: it is our duty to protect each other. This is the obvious next step!”
And Laura France-Hodgkinson (co-leader, Kidz Klub Leeds):
“The vaccine offers an opportunity for families and different generations to be together again without fear. Activities and the things we’ve missed will be able to restart: there are good times ahead!”
Other local supporters include:
- South Leeds Live at Home
- Yanks Sawo (Beeston, Leeds Gambian Association)
- Cllr Judith Blake (Leader of the Council and Middleton Park councillor)
- Cllr Gohar Almass (Beeston & Holbeck)
- Andrew Price (Hunslet Carr Residents Association)
- Karen Peters (Hunslet, Friends of the Aire)
- Dennis Robbins (CEO, Hunslet Club)
- Inderpal Sagoo (‘Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha’ Sikh temple, Beeston)
- Irshad Hassan (H2010)
- Cllr Paul Wray (Hunslet & Riverside)
- Rebwar Sharazure (Hunslet Moor, Kurdish House Leeds)
- Elissa Newman (CEO, Holbeck Together)
- Wayne Dixon (Middleton, SDP)
- Rev Alistair Kaye and Rev Lindsey Pearson (Church of England, Beeston)
- Leeds Green Party
- Phil Pearce (Beeston, poet and youthworker)
- The St Cross Food Bank team (Middleton)
- Becky Howcroft (Beeston, Leeds Citizens)
Still more are signing up everyday: get in touch to lend your support.
Notes on Vaccination
Wait to be contacted. The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
The vaccine takes up to three weeks to become fully effective. Even then you may be able to carry and pass on the virus, so please continue to:
- Wash your hands
- Cover your face in shops, etc
- Keep to 2m apart from people in other households