There’s a better way to get the vaccine out. Why aren’t they doing it?

In the 1950s Britain, a district nurse used to go from house to house giving life-saving medication to people with a certain illness. The medication was insulin. The illness was diabetes. Nowadays, around the world, diabetics are injecting themselves with insulin every day. They are in better control of their illness and able to monitor it themselves.

What changed?

One day, the NHS (national health service) decided they didn’t have the resources and staffing to send a district nurse to people’s homes to give them their insulin. So, instead, anyone with diabetes who was deemed capable, was taught how to inject themselves with their insulin.

But surely that’s quite hard? Surely there must be a lot of practice and trial and error, before people learn this skill?

What if I told you there wasn’t?

When I had a Caesarian Section last year, I was discharged with eight pre-loaded syringes of something called Clexane. This is a blood thinner to stop you getting a blood clot after major surgery while you are recovering. I had to inject myself with it for eight days. It was as straightforward as finding a place to put it, putting the needle against my skin and pressing the plunger down. It stung, and sometimes left bruising, but it was only for eight days so that was largely irrelevant.

But surely that only works for that one thing?

Nope. In January, my son was rushed to A + E with anaphylaxis. He has a peanut allergy. We were given an Epi-Pen and told how to use it. An Epi-Pen, like Clexane, is a pre-loaded syringe which anyone can use.

They are saying they can’t get the vaccine to people fast enough in the UK because they don’t have enough trained clinicians who can do it. My question is, why are we using trained clinicians at all? Why are we not just going door-to-door, asking how many live in the house, and handing out the right number of pre-loaded vaccine syringes?

Normally, we have accepted the cultural myth that vaccines are delivered in a clinical environment such as a hospital or school, but right now, in the current state of emergency, when the whole world is depending on getting this vaccine before life can return to normal, it makes absolutely no sense that trained clinicians are the limiting factor stopping the vaccine from being rolled out. Worse than that, the mass clinics, like the one I was asked to attend for my flu vaccine in December, are a hotspot for spreading a virus like this. People will get the virus before the vaccine can protect them.

Now, some of the approved vaccines need to be stored in a particular way. But there is already capacity to maintain those storage conditions during delivery, otherwise it wouldn’t safely get to clinics. Other Covid vaccines don’t need to be stored in such specific conditions. Assuming the pre-loaded syringes can cope with the temperature at which the vaccine needs to be stored (some plastic goes very brittle under extreme low temperature), all of them could be put into pre-loaded syringes.

Nothing about this approach makes any sense. If the vaccine is the sole end-point of this mass vaccination program, it would be good if the vaccine companies re-think their delivery method, put the vaccine into pre-loaded syringes and give them out that way.

If not… then what is the purpose of this program? Is its secondary purpose to record who has definitively received the vaccine rather than who was given the correct number of syringes for their household? Why? If, as has been said, there are no plans to restrict the movements of those who have not been vaccinated, why is the vaccine not being manufactured in pre-loaded syringes and given out to people door-to-door for immediate use?

Which countries can you go to without a long quarantine? Complete list.

The advice is constantly changing but some countries are still letting you go there (and return to the UK) without having to quarantine. If you get it wrong, you could end up spending 28 days in quarantine — 14 days when you get to your holiday destination and 14 when you return to the UK!

So many people need to travel for various reasons, such as to see families, get business done, or because they booked a dream holiday last year, and a lot of people are looking for ways to get out of the UK, safely, to countries where the risks are lower.

I was surprised when I went to look at flights that the information on where you can travel is muddled and unclear in a lot of places. After doing a bunch of research for myself, I am sharing it with you in the hope it saves you a bit of time if you’re looking to leave the UK safely right now.

I’ve looked through the travel advice for every country on the UK’s “no quarantine on return to the UK” list and found out what the rules are for all but two of them.

There are currently 11 countries not enforcing a long quarantine on UK arrivals right now and whom the UK aren’t enforcing an arrival quarantine on, either.

Countries with no quarantine at all include the Canary islands, Dominica, Madeira, Maldives, St Barthelemy and Sweden.

Countries with no quarantine after you’ve gotten a negative PCR test (usually under 24 hours) include Bermuda, Greece.

Three further countries are still not impossible to take a short trip to, with up to 72 hours of quarantine in Finland, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Technically, Antigua and Barbuda could be interpreted as no quarantine, if you go to Dominica for a couple of weeks, first.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough clear information about Akrotiri and Dhelekia or the Pitcairn island group, although given that Pitcairn doesn’t have an airport you would have to travel through another country with a quarantine rule to get there by boat.

Name of countryQuarantine on arrival?Source:
Akrotiri and DhelekiaUnknown
Antiqua and Barbuda No quarantine if you arrive from Anguilla, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, or St Vincent and the Grenadines (the “Travel Bubble”)Source
Australia Borders only open to Australians and people coming from New Zealand
The AzoresQuarantine
BermudaQuarantine 12-24 hours (until PCR tests available) (this may be about to change).Source
British AntarcticaQuarantine
British Indian OceanQuarantine
British Virgin IslandsQuarantine
Canary IslandsNo QuarantineSource
Channel IslandsDepends which island and where in UK you are coming from. Tier 2/3 lockdown areas have to isolate on arrival.Source
CubaBorders don’t seem open?
DenmarkTravel ban
DominicaNo quarantineSource
Falkland IslandsQuarantine
Faroe IslandsTravel ban
Finland72 Hours quarantine (unless positive PCR test, then longer)Source
GreeceQuarantine until PCR test results are available (so not a full quarantine)Source
GreenlandTravel ban
Grenada5 day quarantineSource
Hong KongPartial travel ban and quarantineSource
IrelandQuarantine (except Northern Ireland)Source
Isle of ManBorders not open
Latvia10-day quarantineSource
MacaoBorders not open
MadeiraNo quarantine (unless positive PCR test)Source
MaldivesNo quarantine for tourists at all (but quarantine for returning residents)Source
New CaledoniaQuarantine
New ZealandQuarantine
Norway10-day quarantineSource
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and OenoUnknownSource
SeychellesQuarantine Source
South KoreaQuarantine
South Georgia and the Sandwich IslandsVisit by permit only from Falkland islands (who have quarantine)Source
St BarthelemyNo quarantine (unless positive PCR test)Source
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan De CubaQuarantine
St Kitts and NevisQuarantine
St LuciaQuarantine
St Pierre and MiquelonBorders not open
St Vincent and the Grenadines48-72 hour quarantineSource (pdf)
SwedenNo quarantine for EU citizensSource
VietnamBorders not open

Remember to always check with the UK Foreign Office before travelling anywhere. All the information about quarantining on arrival in other countries applies to the whole UK (except Ireland, as noted above), although some devolved governments within the UK might have different lists of countries where you need to quarantine on return to the UK.

These rules are changing all the time, sometimes for no reason at all or at very short notice, especially on the British side of things, so unless your plan is to take a longer trip or just ride out Covid in a foreign country, be prepared for the Foreign Office to randomly remove your destination from this list a few hours before the rules come into force (like they keep doing).

Please check current quarantine rules from trusted, reputable sources like the ones linked above before booking flights, paying for a PCR test, or travelling to another country. There’s so much to consider right now when travelling to and from the UK.