By Amanda Eleftheriades
Community activist Rose Harvie, has been at the forefront of many local initiatives.
So last summer when she spotted an advert for volunteers to take part in Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine trial, the 79-year-old grandmother didn’t think twice before putting her name forward.
After a brief telephone interview Rose was invited to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow to be enrolled in the trial.
She explained: “It was a double blind randomised trial so I didn’t know if I was getting the Covid vaccine or the control, which was a drug used to prevent meningitis.
“They gave me a whole lot of swab kits and I had to send one in every week – I’ve been doing that since last June. I’ve had negative results every week.
“The support I had from them throughout has been fantastic, I can’t fault them, they have been so careful.”
After both her first and second jabs Rose felt “really rotten for about a week” so thought she had been given the Covid vaccine.
It was only when she got the call from her GP to go for the jab that she was able to find out what vaccine she had been given.
“When I got the call I had to ask to be unblinded from the trial and it turns out I didn’t have the Covid vaccine – I had the control. So I went along to the Concord C.E Centre and got my first Covid vaccine.”
Rose, who trained as a midwife in Overton House’s Angel Room and then worked at the Vale Hospital, doesn’t see her actions as in any way heroic.
She said: “Several people said I shouldn’t be doing that at my age, but if you have any kind of medical background you know someone has to stick their neck out and take part in research otherwise we wouldn’t have vaccines and medicines for so many diseases.
“I don’t feel noble, I just feel the research needs to be done to get us out of these lockdowns. The phrase ‘civic duty’ is what springs to mind.”
Rose did receive a round of applause from MSPs in the Scottish Parliament when her son, Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, praised her involvement in the trial during a debate in the Parliament.
But she isn’t interested in plaudits and only hopes that by sharing her story it will quell some of the fears about the vaccine.
She added: “I’ve heard all kind of scare stories about the vaccines but the research team were excellent, extremely professional and nothing was too much trouble for them.”
Now the vaccine programme is well under way another research trial is recruiting participants to help monitor the effectiveness of the vaccines.
The Vac4Covid Study being carried out by the University of Dundee aims to recruit a million participants worldwide to track the impact of the vaccines.
If you would like to follow in Rose’s footsteps and help the medical research click here to find out more about the study.