In a race against Covid-19 and its fast-spreading variants, the United Kingdom’s vaccination program is proceeding rapidly and throughout the country. Over half of the British population have received at least the first dose accounting to around 43 million vaccinations given. The vaccination program began in December for with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and in January for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
As restrictions are beginning to ease in England and Scotland following closely behind the hopes for a return to normality is firmly pinned on the continued widespread rollout of the vaccines to as many people as possible by summer. The UK government’s success in offering the first dose to everyone in top priority groups has meant that vaccines are now being offered to people below the age of 50. Around 62% of people above the age of 16 have already been vaccinated in Fife. These promising numbers encompass St Andrews students who have now been offered the vaccine.
Starting a week ago, St Andrews medical students in their second and third year were contacted by the medical school to get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Accounts from students report that the process was very quick and easy with students being able to drop in at the local St Andrews hospital at a time that was most comfortable for them. Upon their arrival, students were informed about the vaccination process and possible side effects. Following the vaccine, students reported different experiences. Some felt no side effects while others reported feeling tired, feverish and having a headache, unable to get out of bed. However, students recovered quickly after 24 to 36 hours. Despite these symptoms, a third-year medical student has reported that after witnessing the effect of getting Covid-19 on her family members, she believes the short-term symptoms of the vaccine were worth it.
St Andrews medical students have received the AstraZeneca vaccine, a vaccine that has garnered significant attention in the past few weeks around cases of blood clots. While cases of blood clots in patients receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine have been very rare, concerns with people refusing to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine and preferring Pfizer. Denmark has been the first country to go as far as to stop the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while the United Kingdom continues to use the vaccine stating that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of the virus. This general concern has caused a slowdown of the vaccine rollout in Europe.
Despite these hiccups, vaccination programs continue throughout the UK, with St Andrews medical students expected to get their second dose in late May or early June. As vaccines continued to be administered throughout the country and businesses begin to re-open the hopes for a return to normality in the summer seems more like a reality.