A formerly vaccine-hesitant nurse who did not get her Covid-19 jab for two months while giving out inoculations to others has encouraged people to get vaccinated.
Toyin Oladotun – known to her colleagues as Lady T – has urged people who are still uncertain about getting a jab to talk to a health professional about their concerns.
Some 6.4 million people – 11% pf the population – across the UK are yet to have a single coronavirus vaccination.
Ms Oladotun and her occupational health nursing team at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, helped to launch one of the first vaccination clinics in the world on December 8 2020.
But it was two months before she got her own jab.
She said there is “no judgment” of people who are coming forward to get their first vaccination now, and urged people to get themselves protected ahead of winter.
The NHS has stressed that the offer of a vaccine is “evergreen” – indeed more than 21,000 people came forward for their first jab on December 5.
Ms Oladotun said: “We were so excited to start administering the vaccine to protect as many people as possible against the virus, but it was difficult for me as I had friends and family warning me, as a black woman, not to get it as they were concerned about what might happen.
“I spent almost two months vaccinating other people and processing all the evidence before I got my first dose.
“I thought I can’t tell others all the benefits and not take my own advice, plus I was vaccinating people of all different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds – they all received the same advice, had their vaccines and were perfectly fine afterwards.”
She added: “I went from running around finding staff to give leftover vaccine doses to at the end of the day instead of getting it myself, to being proud to have got my first, second and now booster jabs too.
“I understand those who are a little more hesitant, as that was me too, particularly for those that their hesitancy comes from a deep-rooted place or a fear of needles, but I’m always so happy to chat to anyone about how they’re feeling about it.
“Getting the vaccine is quick, easy and not at all scary – I’d urge everyone to get it and to speak to a medical professional if they want to discuss anything they’re concerned about.
“We’re all here to help and there is no judgment. It’s never too late to be vaccinated to give you the best protection this winter.”
The St George’s vaccination clinic has seen people aged 12 to 101 getting their jabs, totalling 100,000 in a year.
Rob Bleasdale, chief nursing officer at St George’s, said: “I am incredibly proud and would like to thank Lady T and our whole vaccine clinic team for providing protection and reassurance to our staff and local communities in south-west London over the last year – but it’s not over yet and I’d continue to urge the public to come forward for their vaccines.”
It comes after another medical professional said the majority of unvaccinated people “are not anti-vaxxers”.
Critical care consultant Dr Zudin Puthucheary said most people in intensive care with Covid-19 are not vaccinated, with around two in five not surviving.
In an interview with Sky News on Monday, he said: “The vast majority of unvaccinated people aren’t anti-vaxxers – they had very unclear messaging, they are very uncertain to know who to trust, and this is what has led them to that.”
In an interview with the PA news agency, NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “We know that some people have been nervous, and some people remain nervous, about the vaccine.
“So part of our strategy in the vaccine programme was to ensure that we have a whole range of people who are able to give advice – so that might be local community leaders, local faith leaders, it might be local doctors.
“It doesn’t just have to be a health professionals, it needs to be individuals, who people trust who they feel that they can listen to.
“We will continue to do that, because it is really important that you get that jab. And if you haven’t had that first vaccine, this is an evergreen offer. Come forward. We are there waiting to give that all-important jab.”