Dr. Daskalov started vaccinating faculty this week. Students will follow. Eventually.

Dr. Daskalov and the AUBG Health Center have begun their COVID-19 vaccination campaign this week.

Professors and staff will be given Oxford University’s AstraZeneca Vaccine by appointment. According to Daskalov, the Bulgarian government has separated the population into six groups of different priorities for immunization with one being highest priority and six being the lowest. Faculty and staff of the universities and other educational institutions fall in group two, just behind medical personnel. Students, both Bulgarian and international are last, in group six. 

Prof. Kirkov recieving the vaccine. Screenshot from a video courtesy of Gergana Atanasova.

Many AUBG employees have already been given the first of two doses that make up the AstraZeneca vaccine. Kiril Kirkov is a JMC professor and among the first to be immunized on campus. “My experience was great, I felt fantastic, a little tired today, but happy to give my small part in achieving communal safety,” Kirkov said. "Get the vaccine, save lives, help your community,” he added.

The second shot is a booster dose that needs to be administered 4-12 weeks after the initial injection. “I will work all year long, I will not close the office,” Daskalov said when asked if people may have to have their second appointment during the summer when school is not in session.

“I would like to encourage everyone who gets the chance to get the vaccine to use it,” Daskalov said. “There is no medical evidence that any one of the vaccines is worse than the others or one is better than others. There is no evidence that one of them is causing more side effects than others. There is no evidence that any one of these vaccines does not work, just the opposite. They all work.” 

AUBG president David Evans recieving the vaccine. Photo derived from https://www.facebook.com/AUBGcurious/.
Daskalov cited that according to a recent study, not only does the AstraZeneca vaccine stop a patient from contracting the COVID-19 virus, but it also stops them from spreading it to another host unknowingly.

On whether or not this vaccination campaign puts AUBG on track to have a “normal” on-campus semester this upcoming fall, Daskalov claimed “It’s hard to say. It depends on the level of the infection and the level of people who get vaccinated.” 

Gergana Atanasova at her vaccination appointment. Photo courtesy of Gergana Atanasova.

According to Daskalov, our biggest chance for any sense of normalcy in the fall is to achieve vaccination levels that grant the AUBG populus something called “social immunity”. Social immunity, sometimes called herd immunity, is the phenomenon in which a large percentage of a population, which is immune to an infectious disease, indirectly protects the vulnerable minority by being unable to contract, and more importantly to spread the illness. 

“People in Bulgarian general society have about 40% readiness to get vaccinated, which is not enough,” Daskalov said. “It will be even less if people hesitate now to take the vaccine. I cannot say that we will have enough social immunity by the beginning of next semester.” As reported by Daskalov, having 70% of people on campus immunized will be the benchmark for in-person education. The best way to help AUBG proceed with a traditional semester this fall is to take the opportunity to get the vaccine when they can. 

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