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Coronavirus: scientists call for campaign to warn of post-vaccination Covid risk

Experts fear that members of public will become lax about safety measures after getting long-awaited jabs

The UK’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign may fail to stop the spread unless the government launches an information campaign to combat complacency among people who have had the jab, scientists are warning.  

New research outlined in a report “due to be published in the coming days” by the Sage advisory group suggests that members of the public may “let down their guard” after being inoculated - with potentially disastrous results, the i news reports. 

As report author Professor Susan Michie warns, “no vaccine is 100% effective”. The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, which started being rolled out in the UK last month, offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19.

Michie, director of the centre for behaviour change at University College London, told the news site that “there is polling evidence of people potentially changing their behaviour after they have been vaccinated, in terms of reducing protective behaviours and thinking that restrictions are no longer so important”. 

Warning that the benefits of the Covid jabs could be “undermined” as a result, she called on the government to launch “a major public education campaign about the importance of keeping up all the protective behaviours after you have been vaccinated”.

The plea comes after an NHS nurse told the BBC that she was “angry and heartbroken” to have tested positive for the virus three weeks after receiving her first vaccination jab.

The unnamed nurse, who works for the Hywel Dda University Health Board area in west Wales, said she was told the vaccine would begin to offer some protection after ten days. But three weeks later, she began to feel unwell and had a test that confirmed she was infected.

The health board’s deputy CEO Dr Philip Kloer has pointed out that while the vaccine “reduces your chance” of infection, “there is particular risk that you may have contracted Covid-19 immediately prior to having the vaccine without knowing it, or that you may contract it in the week or two following vaccination as your body builds up protection”.

Health experts fear that these provisos are going largely unheard, however.

According to the i news site, “scientists are growing increasing concerned that ministers have placed too much emphasis on the vaccine providing the country with a route out of the pandemic”. Boris Johnson has repeatedly referred to the jab as a means to “defeat the virus”.

Calling for caution, England’s deputy chief medical officer ,Professor Jonathan Van Tam, told a Downing Street press briefing last week that the public needed to be “patient” and resist the urge to act with “wild abandon” after being inoculated.

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