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‘The Last of My Fears about the Vaccination Have Been Dispelled’

HSE faculty and staff on Sputnik V, Russia’s first vaccine against COVID-19

© Aleksei Morozov // iStock

HSE students and staff (including international employees) will soon be able to get vaccinated against Covid-19 on campus. HSE administration is negotiating with the Moscow government about the dates of the vaccination programme. In the near future, they will be determined, and the Office of Staff and Student Benefits will inform employees and students. HSE Life spoke to university staff about their vaccination experience and plans.

From January 20 to January 25, HSE students and staff can register to get vaccinated on campus. The information about registration is announced via the Office of Staff and Student Benefits newsletter and HSE Life Telegram.

‘For me, the answer to the question of whether I should get vaccinated or not is a no-brainer’

Yaroslav Kuzminov, HSE Rector

In January, I got the second shot of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. I felt quite well after the first shot, while after the second one I had a fever for a couple of days, like many people.

When we got the opportunity to get vaccinated, I didn't hesitate. For me, the answer to the question if I should get vaccinated or not is a no-brainer. It’s true that today no vaccine in the world has passed a full clinical trial cycle. However, for society, the risk of waiting several more years for the long-term results of these trials to emerge when we are in a pandemic is not comparable to the possible risks of vaccination.

‘If there were any immediate complications from the vaccine, we would know about them’

Danil Fedorovykh, Deputy Vice Rector

When it was reported that Moscow residents who work in educational institutions could get vaccinated, I hesitated to make a decision. But then I talked to the people, whom I consider unbiased experts in medicine. Some of them participated in clinical trials, others got vaccinated after the campaign started. Their arguments convinced me, and I also got my first shot before the New Year.

First, the Sputnik V vaccine was created on a platform that has long proven itself, and it is used all over the world. Secondly, there are already a lot of participants of the third phase of the vaccine trial. They have created online group pages and chats, and I joined several chats on Telegram and read what they had to say. If something terrible had happened to them, we would have known about it by now, and it would have been impossible to hide it.

I didn't have coronavirus before I was vaccinated. The felt no side effects after the first shot: no aches, no fever. I stayed for half an hour in the clinic and went on to live my normal life. I'm going to get my second shot next Sunday. I'm an economist and I'm used to carefully assessing all the alternatives. In this case, in my opinion, getting sick is definitely worse than the possible side effects of the vaccine.

‘New data is emerging on “long Covid” — the delayed consequences of the disease’

Zvi Shteingart, Visiting Lecturer at HSE Faculty of Computer Science

I was initially extremely skeptical about the Russian vaccine. The politicization, the accelerated development, the uncompleted third phase trials—all this set me up against it. But since I began to come across positive reviews about the Russian vaccine in respectable English-language sources, I began to change my opinion for the better.

A recent New York Times piece about one reporter’s very positive experience with getting the Sputnik V vaccine was probably decisive for me.

The main thing, of course, is that I really don't want to get sick. Now new data is emerging on ‘long Covid’ — the delayed consequences of the disease. It includes problems with the respiratory and nervous systems, possible cardiovascular diseases… And I am very afraid of losing my sense of smell. In recent months I have been thinking a lot about how important this sense is. So, as a result of a comprehensive risk assessment, I chose vaccination.

Given that I am an Israeli who works in Russia under a temporary residence permit, it was more difficult for me to get vaccinated. I have been in Russia for two and a half years. All this time I have used voluntary health insurance, but then I had to get an Obligatory Medical Insurance policy. Surprisingly, it turned out to be easy — literally in three days I received a policy and got the first shot.

‘For my family there was no question whether we should get vaccinated or not’

Alexey Novoseltsev, Vice Rector

For my family there was no question whether we should get vaccinated or not— we only chose between two vaccines: Sputnik and Vector. But after consulting with experts, we decided that we would not wait for the Vector vaccine and that we’d get the Sputnik vaccine as soon as we could. My wife and I are not old, so we can ostensibly handle any minor side effects.

I guess that now, when it is possible, I will get vaccinated at HSE University. Why didn’t I get vaccinated before? The fact is that I somehow managed to live all these years without an Obligatory Medical Insurance policy. I have applied for a policy, and as soon as it is ready, I will immediately sign up to get vaccinated.

‘I have decided to get vaccinated for selfish and socially altruistic reasons’

Andrei Melville, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences

I'm going to get vaccinated at HSE University as soon as the time and place are announced. I also got vaccinated against the flu at HSE, and I am very grateful to the staff of the Office of Staff and Student Benefits for this opportunity. My motivation to get vaccinated against Covid is as follows.

First of all, I don’t believe that the epidemic will end soon, and I would rather join those who believe that Covid will continue its spread around the world on a larger or smaller scale until 2022. The only way to stop it is vaccination. Thus, I have decided to get vaccinated both for selfish and socially altruistic reasons. If I don't get vaccinated myself, then how can I believe that others will do it?

My second reason is that I love the good old offline life. Surely, I understand certain advantages of online formats, but I like live communication, discussions, being in the classroom, and so on. By getting vaccinated, I get closer to this already forgotten pleasure.

In addition, over the past month, I have seen a very inspiring experiment. My wife (she heads the Vorobyovy Gory educational complex) also became head of an impressive team of employees involved in the vaccine trials. No one had any problems, so my recent fears of the vaccination have been dispelled.

‘I was among the first to get vaccinated’

Oleg Solodukhin, First Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design

I got vaccinated on the third or fourth day of the vaccination campaign. Thus, by the New Year, I was among the first (except for the test participants) to receive both shots.

Unfortunately, I'm a heavy smoker. As a result, my lung capacity is already reduced, and my oxygen levels are already chronically low – so I feared Covid like the plague.

Speaking of the vaccine quality, I had no concerns. I know that the Soviet vaccination practices were very strong, and the Russian practices that succeed them give no reason to believe that the Russian vaccine will be worse than the European, American, or any other vaccines.

The procedure is very well organized in clinics, except the fact that no one even asked me where I work. I had no reaction to the vaccine - neither to the first shot, nor to the second. Soon I will take an antibody test, but even now, prior to the results, I feel much more confident.

January 19