The Tiktoctor will see you now: Cardiff doctor joins Tiktok movement to dispel vaccine myths

A doctor from Cardiff has joined a global TikTok movement to dispel myths about the coronavirus vaccines.

Dr Bnar Talabani, 32,  is part of the project called Team Halo - a group of doctors and scientists from all over the world who volunteer their time to answer concerns from the public. 

Bnar, who was born in Iraq, says she's passionate about making sure everyone is confident they're making an informed choice.

"There is so much misinformation on these social media platforms it made sense that we used those platforms to also deliver really good and accurate information", she said. 

Dr Bnar is a scientist and specialist in kidney and transplant medicine, and she's also doing a PHD in immunology. She says she gets asked all sorts of queries which she replies to through her social media channels.

Here are some of her responses:

Do Covid vaccines cause long term side effects?

The vaccines are injected into the body and about two to three weeks after they're injected they're broken down and removed from the body completely because they've done their job, they do not hang around.

We know that vaccines don't cause long term side effects because we've been vaccinating millions of people for many decades and vaccines have never caused long term side effects. 

There is no biological or physiological reason why these vaccines are any different because they do the exact same thing but in slightly different ways.  

All they do is make the process more efficient, and that process is telling our immune system what COVID is so we can prepare our immune systems defences and produce something called antibodies and other protective cells so we can fight off COVID if we come into contact with it. 

Is the COVID vaccine an experimental vaccine?

I often see this written on social media, but no it's not an experimental vaccine.

The three vaccines approved for use in the UK have been tested on over 130,000 participants in clinical trials. These clinical trials have proven the vaccines to be safe and effective.

Some of those clinical trials are ongoing because the question they want to ask and answer is how long does the long-term protection last?

Some vaccines require a single dose for short-term protection, and a second dose for long-term protection but occasionally we also need to give a booster dose a few years later to remind our immune system of whatever that virus is so we can keep that protection and keep that memory so if we ever come into contact with it in the future we are still ready to defend ourselves against it.

But the efficacy and the safety of these vaccines is no longer in question, because they have been proven to be effective.

Do COVID vaccines cause infertility?

We've been vaccinating for many decades and vaccines have never caused infertility, these vaccines do the exact same thing as other vaccines, they deliver information about a virus so our body can prepare its defences and immune system to fight against that virus if we come into contact with it.

In fact, two weeks after having the vaccine the contents of the vaccine are broken down and removed from the body completely, so vaccines have never caused infertility, there is no evidence to support claims that these vaccines cause infertility, they are safe and effective. 

In fact many millions of young people who work in the NHS and in the care sector have had the vaccine knowing that it doesn't impact fertility, myself included.

As well as being part of Team Halo, Bnar helped set up Muslim Doctors Cymru, a network of over 60 doctors across Wales who provide information about Covid - 19 and vaccines in a range of languages, including her native Kurdish.

Despite experiencing abusive comments online, Dr Talabani says she's determined to play her part in tackling vaccine hesitancy and ensuring the global rollout goes as smoothly as it possibly can.

She said, "I'm aware that I'm playing a small part in something big and tackling vaccine hesitancy is a global effort. Being on TikTok is increasingly important as the vaccine rollout reaches young people, and it is on these platforms that misinformation is spreading."

Worldwide it's thought more than one and a half billion doses have now been administered.