Two young doctors have taken to social media to dispel myths about the coronavirus vaccine and encourage their peers to get a jab.
Dr Will Budd, 25 and Dr Tasnim Jara, 26, work in healthcare but spend their spare time making videos on social media answering questions about the vaccine roll-out.
They are members of Team Halo, a group of scientists and healthcare professionals who volunteer to answer questions about coronavirus vaccines online. Together, their videos have been viewed more than 95 million times on TikTok alone.
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This week, all those aged over 25 in England were invited to book their jab, with the Government urging young people to get vaccinated. In Wales, the rollout is ahead of schedule, with all over-18s set to be given an appointment by Monday.
By day, Dr Budd is a clinical research doctor, helping to run the Covid 19 vaccine trials at Imperial College London. After-hours, he works to dispel myths with light and informative TikToks.
“Obviously I think the vaccine is very important,” Dr Budd told i. “I was shielding during the first wave, so I understand the benefits of coming out of Covid. I also see a lot of misinformation, and I think the worst thing for healthcare is people not getting treatment because of things spread online, so I want to dispel common myths.”
Dr Budd said that because of the scale and speed of the vaccine rollout, it was “understandable people had questions” and that having been a patient himself he could see a disparity between medical professionals encouraging people to get vaccinated and the concerns from the wider public.
Cue TikTok, which provided an accessible way to reach hundreds of millions of young people worldwide.
“I had TikTok, but I just used it to look at content,” he said. “Now in total we’ve had a few million views and gone viral, it’s pretty strange. I hope it means that when people go for their vaccine, they will be confident it’s a decision they’ve made when they’ve been informed, with no questions or concerns.”
“Allthough Covid has been a terrible time, it’s good that health is in people’s minds again,” he added. “Plus, the quicker we get vaccinated, the quicker we can return to normal.”
In Oxford, Dr Jara spends her days as an A&E doctor. She makes many of her videos in Bangla, after becoming alarmed by the amount of misinformation circulating within the community, and expressed concerns about young people refusing the jab.
Despite having more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook and Youtube, and being recognised by the UK Government for her work, Dr Jara said there was still more to be done.
“I have encountered hesitancy in my age bracket,” she said. “One of the common themes is that young people do not get seriously unwell with Covid. Some were concerned about the vaccines affecting their fertility and some saw no benefit of the vaccine for themselves because they would still have to follow all the precautions. There are lots of myths out there that we still need to address.”