A number of medical students at the University of Notre Dame’s Sydney Campus have now had their COVID-19 vaccines. Members of the cohort from the Auburn Clinical School are among the first to be voluntarily vaccinated as they are considered frontline healthcare workers due to their clinical placements at Auburn Hospital.
Third-year Medicine students Rafal Ganni and Samira Aili were part of the group to receive COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccines at Westmead Hospital. As part of their clinical placements, the students see patients alongside senior doctors and work in the Emergency Department, where patients could present with symptoms of COVID-19.
“As medical students, we are as exposed to potential COVID-19 patients as other clinicians. Although we wear full PPE before seeing any patient who is yet to get a negative COVID swab, this vaccine will be a further layer of protection,” says Samira. “Getting the vaccine also means that we are able to assure patients and our close family and friends who are still apprehensive about it.”
After a challenging year in medicine during 2020, Rafal says it was important to her to be vaccinated for similar reasons. “As a medical student, I believe receiving COVID-19 vaccine provides an opportunity for me to be a public health advocate, to educate the community about its safety and its importance,” she says.
COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of daily life; the economy, socialising and mental health, and despite continuous efforts to contain the virus via social distancing measures, masks and early case detection and isolation, the virus continues to be an issue around the world.
“Understanding the role of a vaccine as an effective public health measure in preventing spread of infectious diseases, I believe the COVID-19 vaccination will help protect people from the disease,” says Rafal. “Although the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine in reducing transmission is not very clear yet, it is likely that a vaccinated person will have a reduced chance of developing COVID-19 or a severe illness, and therefore will be less likely to pass it to other people around them. That is why it was important for me to receive a vaccine and protect myself from COVID-19, as well as protect the patients I encounter every day, family, friends, and people I care for.”
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