Local NHS joins vaccination call after young patients share their Covid-19 stories in a video

The NHS in south West London has joined the government’s call for young people to get vaccinated as soon as possible following the release of a video of patients in their 20s and 30s sharing their stories about the debilitating effects of Covid-19.

The new video – which can be watched on Vimeo – 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.

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 – four times higher than the peak in the winter of 2020.

Tom Williamson, a physiotherapist at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals 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 video’s release comes as people aged 16 to 17 in England are offered a Covid-19 vaccine by today (Monday 23 August), meeting the government’s target. More than 360,000 have already been vaccinated and letters and texts were sent last week to the remaining people inviting them to book an appointment with their GP or visit their nearest walk-in centre.

All at-risk people aged 12 to 15 in England 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.

In the video, Quincy Dwamena, a 31-year-old videographer and support worker from East London, who spent two 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, 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 eight 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 seven 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.”

People can book their vaccination appointment at www.nhs.uk or freephone 119. They can also find their closest walk-in clinic at www.swlondonccg.nhs.uk.

More than one 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.

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 two doses.

In all age groups the odds of experiencing symptoms for more than 28 days after post-vaccination infection was approximately halved by two 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.

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South West London CCG