Written by Bethany Walsh
After a year of having to live with COVID, countries now have the chance to deal with the virus in a more productive way. In the UK more than 14 million people have already been vaccinated, mainly the elderly. Here in Leicester, now that the vaccine has been introduced, many people are anticipating the next steps after this. This vaccine will effectively help with face-to-face teaching and learning, making it easier to get into the rhythm that is university life.
But opinions are varied when it comes to the vaccine in general and the impact it will have on people’s lives: Eva Flowerdew (1st year, English wth Creative Writing), believes that “it’s very safe. Research into it started only two weeks after the first case in Wuhan and trials had many more volunteers than they would usually get, which sped up the process. Just because we don’t know what’s in it, doesn’t mean we should trust it any less – can anyone actually name the chemicals etc. in the flu jab anyway?”
Even if it is true that we don’t specifically know what chemicals are in the vaccine, teachers still believe that the injection can definitely boost the chances of being back in class by next fall.
Professor Philip Shaw, who specialises in Romantic Studies at the University of Leicester, knows, like everyone else, that “the main goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. All students and staff will hopefully be vaccinated by September which will allow on-campus teaching once more.
“The vaccines that are available in the UK will provide significant protection, but I do believe we must continue to maintain social distancing for some time yet. Life should get back to some sort of normality by May, but I’m optimistic that we’ll all be back on campus for the start of the new academic year.”
It is true that whilst we may be all injected by the start of the next academic year, caution is still needed so that we may all continue to learn safely.
In spite of that, some students do feel that the vaccination isn’t being distributed equally. Tawny Barden (2st year, Modern Languages) states:
“The vaccine is something that’s extremely positive but it’s not focused on the right age category, it should be shared in a variety of groups. I’m not bothered about the risks since it promises life and will be great for old people. Even with this vaccine, it will be a while before life gets back to normality and I will still be wary. It is uncertain what may happen in these times.”
This is indeed a topic that is mentioned once more by Maz Hardy (1st year, Modern Languages), who personally thinks that “it’s a rather odd choice on the government’s part to vaccinate the over 75s whilst students and other groups at high risk [of catching COVID] remain unvaccinated.
“As students we have been consistently blamed for the spread of the virus throughout this pandemic but if this is true, surely we should be amongst the first to be vaccinated. Teachers are also at risk as they have had to continue to work within close proximity of children throughout the pandemic yet also haven’t been offered the vaccine.
“This to me makes little sense as although older generations are at a higher risk of dying from the virus, surely us supposed ‘super spreader’ students being vaccinated would not only reduce the mortality rate but also allow us to continue with our education.”
This does show that although we have families that are now safer and more protected from COVID-19, students and staff should also be protected and put higher on the list of those who need to be vaccinated.
The government is hoping to have everyone vaccinated by September 2021.
Image taken by LSM member Ollie Monk
Bethany Walsh is a first-year Modern Languages student at the University of Leicester with a deep love for cats, books and music . She is interested in philosophy, history and the origins of languages.