Why I didn’t hesitate?

Trinity sitting on the bridge of lake Pühajärve.
Early morning quarantine trip to lake Pühajärv. Image credit: private collection

I believe all students have found themselves looking at their timetables and wondering which lecture will be taken to the online format sooner or later. September starts in a few days, but the coronavirus situation is not much brighter than last autumn. Fortunately, we now have the opportunity to get vaccinated, and thanks to this, I’m more hopeful when thinking about the upcoming autumn. 

When the pandemic took the stage in 2020, the situation was rather desolate precisely because we knew so little. As a new medical student, I had to figure out a way to study to become a doctor at home in the company of textbooks. In addition to the major changes in the organisation of studies, I had to think about how to protect my family from the virus. One of my family members has immunodeficiency, which means that from the moment the emergency situation was introduced, we almost never left the house. Couriers helped to fill the fridge with groceries, we searched for the emptiest hiking trails and kept contact with friends only by video bridge. Ideally, it was supposed to be the reality of all people to curb the virus, but, naturally, there is a limit to how long a social creature can stay in total isolation. We managed to do that for more than two months, because life depended on it. 

Summer brought along somewhat different normality, although we knew that a new and stronger wave would come in the autumn. In the autumn semester, contact studies indeed resumed for the most part, but all around us, preparations were made for the imminent distance learning. However, the motivation to study at the university also largely depends on the people around us, who will most likely be our future colleagues, and this is why distance learning is not the best option. Besides medical studies, I have a great passion for dancing, and in early autumn, I took part in the rehearsals of a dance performance, but had to stop that because the risk was too high. I needed to avoid falling ill, and, even more so, taking the virus home with me.  

When the news finally came that COVID-19 vaccines were on the way, I felt a childish pleasure, like getting a Christmas present. Although I knew the vaccine would not reach me any time soon, it gave me hope that we can return to something resembling normal life at one point. In March, medical students got the opportunity to get the vaccine, first those whose studies took place at the hospital already, and then the rest of us who wanted the vaccine. I, too, received my first shot in March. It never crossed my mind not to get vaccinated. I have also taken the flu vaccine every year, as vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect myself and others from various vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. Thanks to this, I can now feel a little more relaxed at home because I know I’ve done everything I can to protect my loved ones. 

I want to point out that while it is important that we all receive a quality education, build strong relationships and have access to everything essential, it is even more important to keep people around us safe. Especially those who would like to protect themselves, but whose well-being largely depends on the people around them. Therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and, by that, help and protect others. 

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