Covid in Scotland: Health Secretary Humza Yousaf's warning is not scaremongering. Get your booster vaccine! – Susan Dalgety

Just when we thought it was safe to mingle, without a rectangle of pale blue polyester hiding our best features, the virus that up-ended our lives in March 2020 is back.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf meets Agnes Taylor, 93, at Victoria Manor care home in Edinburgh last month when the winter Covid vaccine programme was launched (Picture: Lesley Martin/pool/Getty images)Health Secretary Humza Yousaf meets Agnes Taylor, 93, at Victoria Manor care home in Edinburgh last month when the winter Covid vaccine programme was launched (Picture: Lesley Martin/pool/Getty images)
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf meets Agnes Taylor, 93, at Victoria Manor care home in Edinburgh last month when the winter Covid vaccine programme was launched (Picture: Lesley Martin/pool/Getty images)

To be fair, the Covid virus – or to give it its Sunday name, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Sars-CoV-2) – never really went away.

It hung about over the summer, infecting unsuspecting people like my husband at his first live gig in two years, but we had largely dismissed it as yesterday’s news.

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We had far more pressing things to worry about, like unaffordable energy bills, as we ripped off our masks and consigned the last of the test kits to the back of the bathroom cabinet.

We had even started reminiscing about lockdown. “Remember the wonderful weather during the first one, it was almost like a holiday” is a popular refrain.

Except it wasn’t. More than 15,000 people in Scotland died with Covid on their death certificate, and in the first week of this month there were 45 more virus-related deaths, 12 more than the week before.

And with over 800 people in hospital with the virus, it is little wonder that Health Secretary Humza Yousaf issued a warning a few days ago that another wave is on its way.

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Covid-19 has not gone away,” he said, urging everyone to take up the offer of a booster vaccine when they get their invite.

I don’t need reminding. I will happily get my fourth Covid jag on Wednesday in the unlikely setting of Waverley Market. And while I am not looking forward to the side-effects – my last booster laid me low for three days – I would rather a sore arm and nausea than coronavirus.

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Some folk still dismiss the disease as nothing more than a novel bout of the flu or bad cold, but research shows it is more dangerous than that, attacking people’s vascular system, causing strokes and heart attacks.

The Stroke Association says that people with Covid are more likely to have a stroke than people with influenza and other respiratory tract infections.

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My husband had a very uncomfortable bout of heart arrhythmia, only a few weeks after his brush with the virus. And my brother-in-law suffered a mild stroke weeks after he had Covid.

Coincidence? Probably. But we still don’t know enough about the effects of this coronavirus to dismiss it. And a recent study shows that nearly half of respondents feel they have only “partially recovered” months after having the infection.

Two million blue envelopes with booster invitations will be posted over the coming weeks, so when it lands on your doorstep, don’t throw it away.

The vaccine works. It may not stop you from getting the virus, but it does help prevent serious illness. And it helps the NHS too. The fewer people in hospital with Covid, the easier it is for staff to manage the usual winter surge of patients.

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Of course, there will be those who say Humza Yousaf’s plea is nothing more than scaremongering. But Sars-CoV-2 is barely three years old. It’s far too soon to be complacent.