When you are with a patient and their oxygen levels are low and the ambulance is on its way, there is a terrible moment when you have to ask: ‘… and have you been vaccinated?’
You try for it not to be the first or second question — they will be about their symptoms — but it has to come. And when they say ‘no’, which they often do, you cannot say: ‘Why not?’
Discussion, debate, whatever you want to call it, is by this point redundant. It is too late. It’s part of the job to bite your tongue, but it’s one of the hardest things to do in this predicament we are in.
I’m afraid with patients I see about non-Covid matters, I take a different tack, because with them it is not too late.
If I’m speaking to them in person or remotely — as is often the case — I look at their vaccination status, and then I really do jump on them. Nicely, obviously.
I say: ‘Can I arrange your Covid vaccination for you? It’s the easiest thing in the world. It takes me a minute to do on the website.’ If they say no, I will try to explore what it is that stops them. I am, frankly, exhausted by having to do this.