I am Dr Lola Oni OBE, specialist nurse consultant. I've had my COVID-19 vaccine, and you should, too.
Over the last year, many of us will have experienced the devastating impact of Covid-19, both professionally and personally.
Covid-19 has also had a disproportionate impact on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and we have seen a large number of deaths.
We know that members of the black community in particular are more vulnerable, as many of us have co-morbidities – I am diabetic myself.
My experience of COVID-19
My husband had the virus early in the first wave of the pandemic last year and he was on a ventilator in intensive care for two weeks.
It was an incredibly difficult period and at times it was very touch and go.
It was also really hard because of visiting restrictions, which meant we couldn’t visit or be with him.
Fortunately, he made a full recovery but since then I have had many friends and a family member who have sadly died.
Let's talk about misinformation
Despite this, and even though we are higher risk, there is a lot of misinformation doing the rounds about the vaccine.
This is particularly problematic within minority ethnic communities where misinformation is being shared through WhatsApp and other social media forums.
For this reason, I feel it is important to share the picture of me having the vaccine, which I have shared widely with my family and friends to encourage them to have the vaccine.
My concern is that a significant proportion of people who have decided not to have the vaccine chose not to because they have seen so much fake information on social media and believe them to be true.
There is a lot of information on channels like WhatsApp, and there is no way these can be verified and many of those who create them cannot be checked for credibility - anyone can create a video and circulate it.
I'm asked "what would you do?"
In my job I get a lot of calls and questions about the vaccine and they ask me: "what would you do?"
I have confidence in the vaccine. It’s a no brainer for me. The alternative to the vaccine is having Covid-19 and I wouldn’t wish that on my family.
So I explain that I am not fearful of the vaccine.
I send them information, particularly my patients with sickle cell and thalassaemia, who are vulnerable.
There is lots of information available for patients to encourage them to have the vaccine.
I tell patients, friends and family, “if you are unsure about the vaccine please seek the facts and the opinion of reliable professionals. Make your decision based on accurate scientific information obtained from trustworthy social media and the government websites”.
More information about the COVID-19 vaccine
My colleagues in London have recorded short messages in some of the capital's most spoken languages.
They can be downloaded and shared to help dispell some of the myths about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
I've had my vaccine: you should get yours, too
I recently had the AstraZeneca vaccine at Wembley.
It was brilliant - there was a one-way system in place and social distancing was maintained.
There weren’t any queues and the staff were wonderful and talked through everything.
If like me you’ve had the vaccine, please do encourage colleagues, friends and family who are unsure to think seriously about the vaccine and make an informed choice based on accurate information.