England’s chief medical officer has said there is no point trying to convince extreme anti-vaxxers to take a COVID-19 jab.
Professor Chris Whitty argued there was nothing that could be done to persuade a small group of people who absolutely did not believe in inoculations.
COVID-19 vaccinations began in the UK on Tuesday but there are still people who are sceptical.
On Wednesday, during a meeting of the Commons Science and Technology and Health and Social Care committees, Prof Whitty said: “There is a very small group of people who have got very weird views about vaccines.
“In a sense, they're not worth worrying about in public communication terms, because nothing will persuade them that this is the right thing to do, and that's their right as competent adults to make those choices.”
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He added: “There is a lot of people, though, who actually have quite legitimate questions of any vaccine and any medical treatment.
“Vaccines are no different to that.”
Prof Whitty identified three key things people wanted to know about a potential medical treatment – if the emergency is big enough and if it can be solved, if the procedure works, and what the side-effects are.
He said: “They need to have those... as transparently and honestly as possible.
“So that people aren't surprised, they actually can ask straight questions and get straight answers.”
Some people are concerned by the speed at which COVID vaccines has been created.
It previously took around 10 years to get a vaccine on the market, but COVID treatments were created in less than a year.
A key reason for this was the amount of money poured into their development, which meant pharmaceutical companies did not have to deal with the usual financial constraints.
There are also concerns over potential side-effects.
On Wednesday people with serious allergies were told by regulator MRHA not to take the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after two NHS staff members who had the jab on Tuesday had allergic reactions.
But Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, quickly moved to allay fears.
He said: “As is common with new vaccines, the MHRA have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday.
“Both are recovering well.”
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Health secretary Matt Hancock said last week that the anti-vaxxer movement in the UK is not growing and that an increasing number of people want to have a vaccine against COVID-19.
A YouGov poll showed a third of Britons think coronavirus vaccines should be compulsory.
In a different poll, a majority of people said they were confident in the safety of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The survey showed 40% were somewhat confident, with another 28% very confident.
But it also revealed 14% were not very confident in the jab, 9% were not confident at all and 10% didn’t know.