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Academy statement: COVID-19 Vaccines

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and its constituent members warmly welcome the positive news on COVID-19 vaccines. The approval and roll-out of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and other vaccines likely to be approved shortly, gives genuine hope that we can overcome this pandemic and people can return to a more normal lifestyle.

We should all celebrate both this remarkable scientific achievement and the hope it brings.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic with huge dedication and selflessness to help and support patients. Having an end to the pandemic in sight and a reduction of their personal risk that has been carried by all those delivering front-line care, will be a huge and deserved relief to clinicians.

However, that return to normality is not going to happen immediately. The vaccination programme is a vast logistical exercise which will take time to deliver – particularly as two doses of the vaccine are required. It will be essential to maintain other social measures to contain the pandemic and protect vulnerable people during that time. This is likely to be the case for some considerable time into the new year.

The Academy sincerely hopes that everyone for whom the vaccine is suitable is vaccinated, for their own benefit and to protect the health of those who are vulnerable.

The Academy fully endorses the GMC guidance that doctors should be immunised against common serious communicable diseases, unless this is contraindicated as set out in Good Medical Practice (Paragraph 29).

The need for doctors to act as exemplars and do all they can to ensure they protect themselves and avoid spreading COVID-19 to patients or colleagues means that unless there are good reasons why it is not personally appropriate, doctors should be vaccinated.

Where personal circumstances mean it is not possible to be vaccinated, individual healthcare professionals should seek advice from their supervisors on ensuring they remain adequately protected.

In the same way, doctors and other healthcare professionals have a duty to maintain the highest standards in terms of infection control ensuring they meet IPC and social distancing requirements as far as is practical in clinical and social settings.

The coming months will require a further additional effort from already weary healthcare professionals. What has already been achieved has been remarkable and without doubt healthcare professionals will again pull together to deliver the vaccine programme and enable us all to emerge from this pandemic.

10 December 2020