By Amy Sutherland
Nursing and midwifery students at Edinburgh Napier University have been informed by email that they are entitled to receive the vaccination against the H1N1 virus if they wish.
The NHS Board for Lothian and Borders has agreed to allow nursing students to attend one of several sessions arranged in the area to receive their jabs.
The email also confirmed that students who have been allocated a placement outwith the Lothian and Borders area are still eligible to participate in any of the organised sessions.
At present, it is only those currently on placement that are given this opportunity and those beginning their placements in January will be contacted nearer the time.
Given that media coverage over the last few months has questioned the number of healthcare workers choosing to have the vaccine, it is unknown how many students will go ahead and take up this opportunity.
Christine Pollock, Director of Undergraduate Studies at Napier University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care said it was “hard to estimate” how many would opt to get the vaccine and that their willingness may be “dependent on a number of factors.” She emphasised the need for students to consider their options and take advice from the Scottish Government about accessing vaccinations for both pandemic flu and also seasonal flu.
One midwifery student admitted she felt wary of the vaccine given the way it has been “fast-tracked” but felt it was best to go ahead and receive the jab. Another student, not currently on placement, commented that she was glad to have another couple of months to decide.
The union UNISON and Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson have already called for the vaccination of healthcare workers amid fears that patients’ health could be put at risk and the NHS left seriously short-staffed if the vaccine is shunned.