I’ve just listened to a debate on Radio 2 about whether care and medical staff should be forced to have the Covid vaccine, and a number of people have asked me recently whether I think it’s safe.

This question doesn’t get any easier to answer over time, and it’s not really my role to advise either way. What I aim to do is signpost patients to truly reliable, unbiased information which they can use to make an informed decision. But again, this hasn’t got any easier with time. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult.

So I suggest that you treat vaccines as you would any other medication, and that if you’d like to make an informed decision, you look deeply at ‘BRAN’.

What You Need To Consider Before Making An Informed Decision

Benefits – find reliable figures showing how well the drug worked in studies, taking into account how many people it was tested on, and how it was tested. The ‘gold standard’ for drugs tests is a large randomised double blind controlled trial. That means that an equal number of participants took the drug, and an inert placebo. Neither the person receiving or giving them the medicine knew which was which, minimising the chance of any improvement being down to placebo.

Risks – look into the short and long term risks associated with the medication. The Patient Information Leaflet will contain at least some of this information, and it’s available to look up online if you know the name of the drug in question.

Alternatives – research what your other options would be besides taking the medication, and how safe and effective those are compared to the drug.  This can be difficult for alternative medicines because for various reasons they’re not subject to the same rigorous trials as mainstream medication. Herbal medicine is often criticised for not being ‘evidence based’, but it only gets 0.1% of the global research budget! Despite that, it’s been safely used all over the world for thousands of years. If you’re considering working with an alternative medicine practitioner, vet them thoroughly and ask to see testimonials from their patients.

Nothing – find out what would happen if you took no medication of any kind. For some conditions, the only sensible option is mainstream medicine, possibly supported by other treatments. For others, you might manage without medication in the short term at least, but with any form of medicine, early intervention generally gets better results.

The Safety Of Herbal Medicine

Although herbal medicine in general has very few side effects, it would be wrong to assume that all herbs are safe and suitable for you to take. If you’re thinking of buying a herbal product to use at home, it would still be wise to look into it thoroughly before going ahead. Working with a trained, experienced alternative practitioner is somewhat different, but since many professions are not state regulated, it’s your responsibility to check any practitioner’s training, insurance, and membership of professional bodies before working with them.

Some patients I speak to feel bad about having to take mainstream medication, especially for mental health problems. If you need to take this kind of medication, please don’t worry about it. Sometimes it’s lifesaving, and absolutely necessary.  Herbs can still work safely alongside your medicine as long as your practitioner has checked for potential interactions before making up your prescription.

Got a question?

Message me now and I’ll reply as soon as I can.


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