A difficult decision

Each week since the start of lockdown I have had a zoom call with family members. Represented in that call are seven countries stretching from Finland and Denmark, through Europe to the UAE and Hong Kong. Each has had its own interpretation of lockdown and its own philosophy on vaccination. It is difficult to understand why there is no consensus derived from combining the experience of what is most effective in every country, that is until one listens to the almost patriotic fervour with which each defends the approach of their own territory.

There is surely no more striking divergence of opinion in relation to Covid than the controversy in relation to the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Denmark will not permit it at all, Spain not for the over seventies, Germany not for the under sixties and of course the UK not for women under 30. There was never a more important time for a united approach.

Now we hear that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been withdrawn temporarily. How can anyone prove or disprove the cause of six cases of clotting or one death out of 6.8 million people or occurrence out of the 20 odd million in the UK and safely blame it on a vaccine?

On the one hand we have the independent regulator in most countries approving the vaccine while the media and in particular individuals on social media who seek to justify the opposite point of view.

After a professional life where I placed my faith in the UK’s regulator, even sometimes when a radical change of direction proposed was uncomfortable to accept, I still could not be deaf to the debate about the AZ vaccine. While one life lost in a million seems such a small risk, it could be a death in my family. That for me was always the basis of professional decision making. I asked myself “what would I do if this patient was my mother or my child”.

As a vaccinator, found myself made uncertain about the use of the Oxford vaccine. My personal dilemma was whether I could continue to inject it and remain part of the programme and how to evaluate the risks.

I know a young mother and know of the father of an unborn child who died of Covid. And I know those who have suffered Long Covid which left very fit young people seriously ill. Covid is not just a disease affecting older people.

The vaccination programme has saved thousands of lives and tens of thousands from serious and often life changing illness. This outweighs the unproven incidents of which it is blamed. The UK’s decision not to use the Astra Zeneca vaccine on young women is a wise precaution at present and has helped in my decision to carry on.

The fact that I am insured and that the NHS ultimately takes responsibility for my actions plays no part in my decision. I do it because I believe it to be the right thing to do.

Joe

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