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The news that the UK has licensed a coronavirus vaccine has been widely heralded as a turning point in the pandemic. The Guardian spoke to three people about their reaction to the news.
The polio survivor: ‘Vaccine doubters need to have their minds changed’
Anthony Tugwell, 73, a retired architect from London, suffered badly from polio as a child a year before a vaccine was made available. He was temporarily paralysed from the waist down and considers himself “extremely lucky” to have made a full recovery. The experience has left him feeling strongly about the importance of vaccinations, and he says he doesn’t have much patience with those who decide not to take the coronavirus vaccine.
Tugwell says he doesn’t think there is cause to worry about the vaccine being rushed. “Because of they way they’ve done it – monitoring the vaccine during the process rather than waiting for the results, and putting more money and effort into more research labs – the fact that it’s come out sooner is not particularly a surprise,” he says. “I would rely on regulators to decide if it’s safe or not. I can understand if there are genuine doubts, but I think these doubts are fanned by social media and, to some extent, the press.”
Tugwell says the vaccine is a necessary step in the elimination of coronavirus. “It has taken 50-odd years for the world to be ridded of polio. The eradication of Covid worldwide will take a long-term effort and the vaccine doubters need to have their minds and actions changed before this can occur.”
The shielder: ‘I won’t be ringing my GP asking when I can get it’
Claire, 32, who lives in Leicester and works for a trade union, says she has mixed feelings about the breakthrough. “Vaccines before this have always taken years and years to produce. Suddenly this one is presented within a year as a miracle cure, and I’m sceptical,” she says. “I’m obviously hopeful: as a Leicester resident who’s been included on the shielding list, this year has been a very long one. But I am conflicted.”
She says she “won’t be ringing my GP asking when I can get it” but is likely to have the vaccine if it is offered to her. Even if she gets the vaccine, she will continue to stay at home, having been shielding since March.
“My trust in the government is at an all-time low and I wouldn’t want to risk my health,” she says. “I’ve received letters from the government saying I can end shielding, but the risk hasn’t gone. I have multiple auto-immune diseases including asthma, and there are still hundreds of people dying every day. I don’t want to be a statistic. I’m going to continue to be safe until the number of cases are much lower.”
The business owner: ‘It’s the chance to get our lives back on track’
Hiran, 37, a small business owner in Scotland, says he is “optimistic” about the vaccine. Hiran’s business has been badly hit by the pandemic – he estimates it has cost him around £250,000 – and his wife has been shielding.
“Covid has had such an awful impact on us personally and professionally,” he says. “My wife had to shield throughout lockdown due to a medical condition and we have been living in constant fear over our own health and our family’s, as we have parents who are shielding also. The vaccine gives us the chance to get our our lives back on track and be hopeful for the future. Our lives are on hold until the vaccine, so the sooner the better for us.”
Hiran says he understands some people’s concerns but he trusts the experts. “We need to trust the people who are making the vaccine that they wouldn’t put something out that was unsafe, because that’s not in anyone’s interest. I’m willing to put my trust in the people who are the best in the world at what they do.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘The sooner the better’: hope and doubts as Covid vaccine nears rollout | Vaccines and immunisation