Sir, as healthcare workers in priority group 2, dental students have been included in the first phase of the government's vaccine rollout. The Manchester Undergraduate Dental Research Society were interested in dental students' views on the vaccine and distributed a five-question survey on our social media platforms in late January.
We received 127 responses from all the UK dental schools, mostly from the University of Manchester (85 responses). There were ten responses each from the Universities of Sheffield and Birmingham; additional responses from the remaining 13 universities were in single figures. The year groups of participants were relatively evenly spread: BDS1 (26%), BDS2 (13.4%), BDS3 (15.7%), BDS 4 (33.1%), BDS5 (11.8%).
The UK government's assumption, based on previous vaccination programmes, is that around three-quarters of people will take the coronavirus vaccination when offered.1 Our results show slightly higher rates as, at the time of the survey, 86.6% of dental students planned to have or had already received the vaccine. Of the remaining students, eight had decided not to take it and nine were undecided. We then asked students to select statements they believed to be true; the results are shown in Table 1.
These results show that despite students agreeing to receive the vaccine, they still have concerns that need addressing. Our final question asked whether students would like more information on the vaccine from their dental school; the majority (72.4%) answered yes. We suggest that dental schools provide reassurance to students' concerns. This could be by signposting to reliable resources or holding question-and-answer sessions. With accurate information based on evidence-based research, dental students can make informed decisions and the vaccine can provide us all with hope that there are better times ahead.
Institute for Government. Coronavirus vaccine rollout. 2021. Available at: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/coronavirus-vaccine-rollout (accessed 14 February 2021).
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Russell-Williams, C., Al-Attar, S. Students' vaccine views. Br Dent J 230, 183 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-2731-7
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British Dental Journal (2022)