COVID-19: Doctors Use TikTok to Encourage Young People to Get Vaccinated

Danielle Desouza

June 11, 2021

Two young doctors using TikTok to tackle COVID-19 misinformation say their videos are encouraging young people to have a vaccine.

Dr William Budd, 25, and Dr Tasnim Jara, 26, are part of Team Halo, a group of scientists, doctors, and health professionals who voluntarily make videos on social media, answering questions about COVID-19 vaccines to prevent misinformation.

Using light-hearted videos, explainers, and even films of themselves receiving a vaccine, Team Halo has amassed more than 95 million views.

With the NHS rollout of vaccines in England now including  25 to 29-year-olds, both doctors said they felt TikTok was the best platform to reach a younger demographic.

Image credit: PA Media.

Misinformation and Myths

Dr Jara works in Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital as an A&E doctor and makes short videos in Bangla – the Bengali language – to tackle COVID-19 and vaccine-related misinformation.

She said she makes these because in her community a common area of misinformation has been around the safety of vaccines, with many concerned about the rapid pace of the development of jabs.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been no shortage of scare stories, misinformation, and myths surrounding COVID-19 and vaccines," Dr Jara told the PA news agency.

"If people reject vaccines because of reliable information being inaccessible, we will lose many lives that could have been saved. So, I joined Team Halo.

"Thousands of people have commented on Team Halo videos with positive feedback. Some say that our videos have helped them make the decision to take the vaccine, others say the videos have clarified their misconception."

Dr Jara’s health awareness videos have been viewed for more than 280 million minutes and she has gained more than 800,000 followers on YouTube, and 870,000 on Facebook.

Conspiracy Theories

Dr Budd is a clinical research physician at Imperial College London, whose work facility trialled both the Oxford and Imperial COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

One of his videos, called "Why take the vaccine?", highlighted how taking a vaccine will allow people to return to doing what they enjoy quicker such as travelling and meeting with friends.

"There has been evidence [having a vaccine] reduces transmission which is important to decrease the amount of virus in the population, while also protecting those around you," Dr Budd said.

"One conspiracy theory was that the vaccine can make you infertile, however there is no link between the vaccine and fertility.

"Many have concerns over the blood clots we saw with AstraZeneca, which was a very, very small number. But it’s understandable to have that concern and that is why the MHRA have decided to stop its use in this [younger] demographic."

Dr Budd shielded during the first wave of the pandemic due to a kidney transplant he had in 2016 because of a medical condition.

"I really recommend that people who are vulnerable to get the vaccine to protect themselves and allow for their lives to return to normal," he added.

Dr Jara added: "Please listen to experts from trusted bodies like the JCVI, MHRA, NHS, WHO or visit their websites.

"On social media, you can follow Team Halo guides and verified pages of national and international health authorities."

This article contains information from PA Media.

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