St Andrews University: Almost all students COVID vaccinated before new term starts
Almost all University of St Andrews students arriving in town for the start of the new academic year have been vaccinated against Covid.
Returns from a comprehensive survey of new and returning students found that 97% of students have had one dose, and 73% are fully protected with two, or have received a single jag vaccine such as the Janssen vaccine.
In Scotland as a whole, only 74% of 18-29 year olds have had one dose, and 50% two according to the latest figures from Public Health Scotland.
The university said it had worked throughout the summer to encourage students to get vaccinated, to protect themselves - and to cut the risks of the virus spreading when Freshers’ Week starts on Monday.
Working with NHS Fife, it is laying on a comprehensive series of drop-in vaccination clinics in St Andrews for students who are due to have their second dose, or the small number yet to receive any vaccine.
The university will welcome students from more than 140 countries next week, and the drive to support their vaccination has been a complex international and logistical challenge.
Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor“ said: “I cannot praise our student and staff communities highly enough for the way the university responded to the pandemic so far, and kept levels of transmission so low.
“In many cases, that has meant considerable personal sacrifices, and significant disruption to the student experience.
“As we begin our new academic year, although most legal restrictions have been lifted and people are entitled to exercise important freedoms again, our students and staff have told us that they wish this semester to be one of transition in which our return to normality is considered and gradual.
“Levels of Covid transmission in the general population in Scotland and the rest of the UK are exceptionally high at present, which is why it has been so important to encourage and support our students to get vaccinated.
St Andrews has also refreshed its Covid Code – the seven-point charter which helped keep infection levels in the university and town amongst the lowest in the country over the past 18 months.
Produced jointly by the university, the St Andrews Students’ Association and the Athletic Union (Saints Sport), it sets out the simple steps and behaviours which the university, the Students’ Association and the Athletic Union ask of students and staff, now that most legal restrictions have been lifted.
It has also taken delivery of almost 50,000 rapid test kits to which students and staff will have ready access.
Added Professor Mapstone: “The fact that 97% have had one dose and intend to be fully vaccinated, a percentage which is substantially ahead of that in the general population, says a great deal about the maturity and attitude of the St Andrews student community.
“Learning to live with the virus in our midst will take time, which is why a semester of transition is the right thing to do - a semester in which we are able to re-discover all the things which make St Andrews special, but recognise that, at a very fundamental level, each of us has a continuing responsibility for the health, safety, and wellbeing of all in our community.”