Nina Hines is Deputy Local Service Manager at two of Sanctuary Supported Living’s young people’s services in Swale, Kent. Until recently, she admits that she was sceptical about having the Covid-19 vaccine. In her own words, here’s how and why her view changed.

 I wouldn’t say I was an anti-vax person, however, I struggled with trusting something I felt had been developed in less than a year, when vaccines normally take 5-10 years to produce and approve. I was completely adamant until a month ago – I made it clear to my manager that I was determined not to have this vaccine and would take my chances.

There were several factors that started to make me rethink whether I should have the jab. The first was the news that my manager, Ebi, had herself contracted the virus and hearing the effect it was having on her whenever I spoke to her on the phone. I suppose this sewed the first seed, as well as her continuous support and reasoning around why the vaccine is our only way out.

I began to make a conscious effort not to listen to the news or read anything on social media. I saw my staff becoming more anxious and morale amongst the team was low – none of us could plan holidays or see our family – many of us have not seen them for more than a year.

We provide supported housing to vulnerable young people who have been or have faced homelessness. The support we provide is essential and is more difficult to deliver in socially distanced ways or under Covid restrictions. Getting back to a more normal life without Covid would be better for us all.

I soon got the news I dreaded; my elderly parents had both contracted the virus. My dad was 90 years old and had been in and out of hospital over the last few months, while my 76-year-old mum was his full-time carer.  We didn’t know initially, but Dad had contracted Covid from his stay in hospital and had only been home for one day before he returned there, then my mum tested positive two days’ later.  

Dad was very unwell and it hit the family hard, but I had faith in the care he was receiving and his own strength and willpower. But it made the message hit home; how will I get to see my parents and when will this end? I realised then that the only way out of this pandemic, to protect others – including our vulnerable residents – and have some sense of a normal future, was to be vaccinated. I knew that any side effects had to far out way the distress and the possibility of becoming seriously ill myself.

I had changed my mind about the vaccine. The minute the opportunity came along, I booked my jab and when I received it at my local hospital, I felt very emotional.

Sadly, my dad passed away on 11 February. If sharing my story convinces just one more person to have the jab, then I feel that’s a great tribute to him. It will mean a lot to me.

If anyone is still unsure, I totally get it, but please just focus on who and what is important to you. Do a little bit of research yourself, for example, how they have approved and rolled out the vaccine so quickly without taking any shortcuts. Read information from reliable sources and do the right thing for you and others around you.  

For more information about Sanctuary Supported Living’s supported housing services for homeless and vulnerable young people, visit our young people page, read residents’ stories or search for a young persons’ service near you.