Viewpoint: Would you have the vaccine, doctor?

Dr Rick Brown reflects on the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of what’s been a very difficult year for so many people.

A patient in York receives the vaccine this week (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
A patient in York receives the vaccine this week (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Dr Rick Brown‘So would you have it?’

Pause.

A little too long a pause.

I suspect you’ll need a little back story. Caroline and I were setting up for our first COVID-19 vaccination setting. I was jabbing. She was data-entering. I was gloved, masked, aproned and ready to go.

I’d been keen to volunteer to do a session for the network since the vaccine was first planned, and now it had arrived in all it’s fragile, photosensitive, super-cooled glory. 

After all that had happened this year I felt like this was the turning of a corner.  Yes, there had been all our individual acts; hands, face and space and all that. I have the hand eczema of the health worker who has sung happy birthday about a million times, and the steamed-up specs and massive carbon footprint of the habitual mask and apron wearer.

Time to fight back

But this was the start of the organised fight-back. The barricades were being manned, we were armed and ready and I wanted to do my bit. Like Les Miserables, but in Chorley.

There’s a big part of me that wanted to pull my weight and get involved directly. When my kids ask me what I did during the great plague of 2020 I wanted to be able to say I’d played a part. Somehow the years’ worth of work in general medical practice doesn’t seem to count. And I know why. Doing my day job, however worthy, is like working in a munitions factory. Give me a pinny, a mask and a syringe full of Pfizer’s Chateau Covid 2020 and suddenly I’m flying a spitfire.

So when they asked me to sign up for a session I was in as soon as I could. I know it’s my job to say it but vaccination is a Good Thing. ‘Vaccination has saved more lives and prevented more serious disease than any advance in recent medical history’. Of course we should have it.

So why the big pause?

It’s not that I don’t want it.  I do. 

And it’s not that I won’t have it. I will.

I just don’t feel it’s my turn yet. We know the coronavirus has been unfair. We know either directly or indirectly it’s hit the worse off and most disadvantaged hardest. The vaccination is doing a bit of levelling up. If you need it most you’ll get it first. 

Nobody deserves it more than anyone else. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that society has a fairly messed up sense of which workers are essential. We’ve started to value the nurses and truck drivers and shelf stackers a little more highly, and long may that continue.

So though it sounds a bit arrogant but when Caroline asked me if I’d have it there was a pause.

The answer is obviously yes.

But. I’ll have it when it is my turn. Pushing my way to the front of the queue doesn’t really feel like doing my bit.

  • Dr Rick Brown is a GP in Chorley, Lancashire

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