Young COVID patients share stories to urge others to get jabbed
As part of a drive encouraging people to get vaccinated, young people have shared their experiences of suffering long COVID in a powerful new video.
Young coronavirus (COVID-19) patients have told their stories of battling the virus and suffering long-term debilitating effects as part of a new film encouraging people to get their vaccines.
The video features several patients who experienced serious symptoms of COVID-19 or developed long COVID, as well as the doctors and frontline staff who treated them, to warn of the dangers of the virus for those who are not vaccinated. It is narrated by A&E doctor, Dr Emeka Okorocha.
It comes as people aged 16 to 17 have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine.
All at-risk people aged 12 to 15 have also been invited for a vaccination and young people are encouraged to take up the offer as soon as possible to build vital protection before returning to school in September.
The latest figures show that hospitals are seeing a rise in unvaccinated young adults admitted with COVID-19. A fifth of COVID-19 hospital admissions in England are aged 18 to 34 – 4 times higher than the peak in the winter of 2020.
The patients who feature in the new short film have issued a rallying call: young people should take up the vaccine to avoid suffering a similar fate.
Quincy Dwamena, a 31-year-old videographer and support worker from East London, who spent 2 weeks in hospital with COVID-19 after putting off the vaccine, said:
“I’m a healthy, young guy. I went to the gym often and have no underlying health concerns. I put off getting the vaccine because I thought the way I was living my life would mean there would be little to no chance of me catching the virus, or it would have little effect.
“But I ended up being hospitalised and thought I was going to die. My advice is to get the vaccine: don’t put yourself and others at risk, I wish I’d got mine as soon as it was offered.”
Megan Higgins, a 25-year-old special needs tutor from London who is suffering from long COVID, pleaded with others to get vaccinated. She said:
“I was always careful about catching COVID-19, but I’m healthy and active so thought if I catch it, I’d probably brush it off. It’s now been 8 months since I tested positive, and I can’t even walk around the shops without getting exhausted. Long COVID is debilitating so please, get vaccinated. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I have.”
Ella Harwood, a 23-year-old illustrator from London, said:
“I’m young and fit but I was bed-bound for 7 months with COVID-19. Before I caught the virus, I was super active and had no health concerns, but I now suffer with asthma which I didn’t have before and a number of allergies.
“I fear I’ll never be the same again but I’m making progress and I’m very grateful that I’m still alive. Please get vaccinated if you haven’t already.”
A total of 89,070,370 people have been vaccinated in the UK, including 47,573,794 people with a first dose (87.5%) and 41,496,576 people with a second dose (76.3%).
More than 1 in 20 people aged 16 to 29 (6.3%) have had long COVID, which is higher than the national average. Many of these have said long COVID has had a major impact on their lives, especially the ability to exercise, work, and maintain relationships.
TV doctor and emergency medicine physician, Dr Emeka Okorocha said:
“As an A&E doctor, I’ve seen a lot during the pandemic. But nothing has shaken me like the sight of young, otherwise healthy adults, being rushed into our hospitals with COVID-19.
“As well as their age, many of them have 1 other thing in common, they are unvaccinated. Vaccines truly are the way out of this pandemic and are the best way to protect everyone from the virus, so please get your vaccine.”
Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, the dominant strain in the UK. The analysis shows the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after 2 doses.
In all age groups the odds of experiencing symptoms for more than 28 days after post-vaccination infection was approximately halved by 2 vaccinations.
COVID-19 vaccines have saved around 95,200 lives and prevented 82,100 hospitalisations and 23.9 million infections in England alone, the latest data from Public Health England and Cambridge University shows.
Alongside Dr Emeka and patients, the film features interviews with the frontline workers who have been treating young COVID-19 patients.
Tom Williamson, physiotherapist at Epsom and St Hellier Hospital Trust who features in the film, said:
“We’re treating more and more young COVID-19 patients who are still suffering with long COVID and it’s heart-breaking to see. Patients are experiencing extreme fatigue which means they can no longer do the things they love, and some have had to quit work.
“My message is clear, COVID-19 can affect anyone, regardless of your age or lifestyle so please get vaccinated. It’s the best way to protect yourself and others.”
The government is working closely with the NHS to make it as easy as possible to get a vaccine, including through ‘grab a jab’ pop-up vaccine sites across the country, such as London-based nightclub Heaven, as well as football stadiums and festivals up and down the country.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“Vaccines are building a wall of defence in the UK and allowing us to safely live with this virus without restrictions.
“Regardless of whether you’re young, fit and healthy, these harrowing stories really show that COVID-19 can affect anyone. I encourage everyone to come forward for both their jabs as quickly as possible as vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness.”
Advice and information on the benefits of vaccination have been shared at every opportunity, including through a range of partnerships with industries catering for predominantly younger audiences.
This work has included partnerships with high-profile entertainment and sports personalities on short films encouraging people to get the jab, such as film stars Jim Broadbent and Thandiwe Newton, and football figures Harry Redknapp and Chris Kamara. The mass vaccination centres will be winding down their work in the coming weeks, as the buildings return to their normal roles. However, up until mid-September, they will continue to do walk-in second dose vaccinations and first doses for 16 and 17 year olds.
The vaccination centre inside the SSE Arena Belfast closed on Sunday. From Tuesday 24 August it will move outside the SSE Arena to the overflow car park, at the Water’s Edge, to continue delivering second dose vaccinations and first doses for 16 and 17 year olds.