Travellers social work group ask - 'Should I have the COVID-19 vaccination?'
The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association encourages you to have the vaccination to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. If you are unsure whether to have it or not, we encourage you to seek advice from a health or social care professional.
The impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 has meant that 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for us all. As we think about the challenges brought about by the global pandemic, there will be things that we are glad to leave behind as we enter the New Year.
As we look forward to 2021, one thing we are hearing more about is a new vaccine for COVID-19. Latest government data released on 7th December shows that 69,752 people have died of COVID-19 this year. Although the number of people dying of this terrible disease is slowing, the COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool in helping stop the pandemic all together.
Wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing does help to reduce the chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. The vaccine is the only way to ensure that your immune system is ready to fight the virus if you are exposed to it. For this reason, we at the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association recommend that anybody who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination should have it.
Worried about the vaccine?
As a group of professionals who represent the community in social work, we have heard that some families are worried that if they do not have their children vaccinated against COVID-19, social services will remove them. We want to be clear this vaccine is NOT for children, it is for ADULTS ONLY. The vaccine has not been tested on children because they are unlikely to get very unwell if they catch the virus. If this changes and there is a Covid-19 vaccine for children, choosing not to vaccinate your child is NO reason for social services to remove them.
Ask for advice
We know that you want to protect your child in the best way possible. If you are worried about the vaccination and the consequence of having it, or not having it, it is essential that you talk to your General Practitioner (GP), pharmacist, or another health or social care professional. Being able to ask questions about the benefits of the vaccination, or any other matter related to your child's healthcare, is your right. The information that the professional gives you will allow you to have access to reliable information that can help you to make an informed decision.
As we look forward to 2021, and hope that the new vaccine for COVID-19 will help reduce the death and suffering that we have seen, let us continue to advance our right to access good quality health care services. For too long, our communities have experienced a worse health status than the rest of the population. As we leave 2020, we want to leave discrimination toward Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities behind too. We at the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller Social Work Association see the COVID-19 vaccination as an important step forward to promote health and protect the lives of our most vulnerable.
Who to call
If you are worried about not having the vaccination, please make sure that you speak to a trained health care or social care professional so that you have a full understanding of the facts.
If you are unable to talk to a General Practitioner, pharmacist, or another professional health or social care professional, you can gain advice from NHS Inform. At NHS Inform, a team of professionals are on hand to answer any questions that you have about the vaccine. All you need to access the NHS inform guidance, is an internet connected device (a phone, tablet, laptop, or computer). You will then be able to type any questions that you have in the question box. You can access the NHS Inform chat by clicking here.
By the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association
Supported by the Traveller Movement and the Travellers' Times