Covid: Vaccinating two million Scots is an incredible achievement that's worth celebrating – Stephen Jardine

Long before the cards or the presents, the first most people know about their impending 50th birthday is the arrival on the doorstep for a bowel-screening test from the Scottish government.

James Logan, from Edinburgh, receives an injection of a coronavirus vaccine from military personnel who are assisting with the vaccination programme at the Royal Highland Showground (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

The opportunities for humour around that are endless. In somewhere like Finland it would come with a card saying “Happy Birthday. Being 50 is crap but that can also save your life”.

Here that approach would have involved multiple focus groups to check for offence so instead you just get the procedurals and a leaflet written by someone suffering from advanced embarrassment.

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That memory drifted into my mind this week as I arrived for my Covid vaccination. Most people I know were dealt with at the giant EICC hub which handles more than 20,000 jabs a week. For reasons unclear, I ended up being summoned to a drive-thru facility at Queen Margaret University.

Winding down the window, I considered asking for a large one with fries because no one will ever have said something that funny before. Then I looked at the hard working medics and thought better. They were terrific and the whole thing couldn’t have been better organised but something was missing.

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Getting the vaccine is a huge moment. For a year we’ve been ducking and diving, swerving and hiding in an effort to stay safe and protect the NHS. A simple jab is our passport out of all that so doesn’t it need a bit of hype?

Nowadays even revealing the gender of a baby in the womb demands a party with fireworks ahead of the big announcement. Between birth and death the vaccine is probably the biggest medical moment of our lives but it comes with zero fanfare. Unlike south of the border, we don’t even get a smiley face sticker.

Setting up the vaccination centres has been a huge expense. Renting the EICC alone has cost more than £2 million. Given that, couldn’t they have found a few bawbees for some razzamataz? Maybe Sir Cliff on a loop singing “Congratulations”, a Matt Hancock balloon to take home or a giant screen that flashed up your name the moment the vaccine entered your bloodstream.

In the absence of all that, congratulations from me. If you’ve had the vaccine you are one of the two million Scots who have so far rolled up their sleeves and stepped forward to keep themselves safe and to help others as well by reducing the likelihood of transmission.

That is an incredible achievement. A year ago today, the First Minister addressed the nation and warned we faced “the biggest challenge of our lifetimes”.

At the same time, pubs, bars and restaurants were closing their doors and the nightmare was beginning. In the 12 months since, over 200,000 Scots contracted coronavirus, the economy has been ravaged and nearly 10,000 ended up with Covid-19 on their death certificate.

It’s easy to forget that for much of that time, there was no way out. We went into this crisis with no guarantee a vaccine would ever be discovered. For most of last year keeping away from other people and hiding at home was our only hope.

A year on we now see the door and the way out. The next time someone says science is boring, just remind them of that.

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