By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in 2019. COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that impacts everyone who contracts the disease differently. For some people, contracting COVID-19 causes no or mild flu like symptoms, such as a fever, a change in your sense of smell and taste, general fatigue, muscle pain and headaches. However, for some who contract the disease, COVID-19 can have very severe complications including breathing difficulties, long term organ damage and in extreme cases patients may be placed into a coma, or for some the loss of life. The coronavirus can also cause long term impacts on health, known as long COVID. Symptoms of long COVID include extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, long term flu symptoms, or even prolonged changes to your sense of taste and smell. As COVID impacts everyone differently, it is important to state that symptoms may include those listed above, but are not limited to these.
The Impact of COVID in the UK
The COVID-19 pandemic first began to significantly impact the UK in March 2020, when the country was placed into its first lockdown. Since then, a further 2 lockdowns have been implemented across the nation, upon trialling tiered restrictions and now currently the COVID restriction easing system. Surrounding COVID there has been much uncertainty due to this being the first major pandemic in the modern day. Although it feels like as a nation we are just going back and forth, the UK has set a great example to the rest of the world when it has come to managing the pandemic, balancing safety and life, despite much criticism. Currently across the UK, mass vaccinations are taking place, as an additional attempt to control the virus. The UK’s vaccination roll-out has been one of the most successful vaccination programs implemented across the globe, with over half the population now having at least 1 of their 2 vaccine doses. The country has successfully prioritised those of a higher risk, gradually enabling different age groups to access the vaccine. Although the vaccine may not prevent you from contracting the disease, it has proven successful in reducing the amount of severe COVID cases and will hopefully help further prevent the spread of the virus.
COVID Safety Measures
As the coronavirus is highly contagious and can result in severe illness, it is important that as a nation we work towards controlling the spread of the virus, even with ongoing changes in the restrictions surrounding COVID-19. The government has successfully created many schemes to help identify COVID cases, alongside helping prevent the virus spreading further. The current advice on the coronavirus is as follows:
- If you develop any symptoms of the coronavirus (including a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a change to your sense of smell and/or taste) you should isolate immediately. If you have symptoms of the coronavirus you should arrange to take a PCR test at the earliest point possible. If you have symptoms, you and your household should isolate for 10 days, starting from the day your symptoms first developed. If you are asymptomatic and have received a positive result, you and your household should isolate for 10 days from when your positive COVID result comes in. To book a test, click here. This service is free and can be accessed via a drive-in/walk-in test centre, or you can opt for a postal test.
- Track and Trace is a system that aims to contact anyone who has been in contact with a COVID positive case. This may be implemented via your workplace or educational institute, or via the NHS Track and Trace app. If you are informed about being in contact with a positive COVID case, you should isolate for 10 days upon receiving this information. Only you will have to isolate in your household during this period, however if you develop symptoms your whole household should isolate for 10 days and a COVID test should be completed.
- If you are isolating due to symptoms, your household should isolate for the 10 day period too. If another member of the household also develops symptoms, an additional 10 days of isolation for the household is required. Again, if anyone who tests positive is asymptomatic, the household should isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test result.
Even if you or your household have not contracted the virus, or aren’t showing any symptoms, additional COVID safety measures can be taken. General advice recommends regularly washing your hands, wearing a facemask in public spaces (particularly if you are indoors), and where possible allowing 2 metres between yourself and others. This advice will help prevent the spread and the contracting of the coronavirus. If you regularly attend a workplace or educational institute, it is advised that home testing is completed on a weekly basis. Lateral flow tests can be accessed for free and can indicate whether you have contracted the coronavirus, particularly if you are asymptomatic in the early stages. To access lateral flow tests, click here. Guidance on lateral flow tests can be found below:
- It is recommended that lateral flow tests are taken twice a week, within a 3-4 day period of each other. Your result should always be registered online following the advice given in your pack, whether your result is positive or negative.
- If you receive a positive COVID result, you should book in for a PCR test for a more accurate result. Whilst waiting on your PCR test results, you should isolate. If you receive a positive result via your lateral flow test, you and your whole household should isolate for 10 days, even if your PCR result is negative. If your PCR test is negative and you and your household are symptom free, you do not need to isolate. To arrange a PCR test, click here.
Face masks have become the new social expectation to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. For some, however, facemasks have proven a stressful topic. People with disabilities, whether they are physical or mental, may classify for an exemption. If you feel you may have an exemption, contacting your GP may be helpful, or alternatively you can learn more about face coverings by clicking here.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Young Adults
Whether you’re a young adult in education, employment or even taking time away, the impact of coronavirus has been significant on your life. It feels as though young adults have been heavily disregarded during the COVID pandemic. Your life plans have been put on hold, government decisions don’t seem to consider young adults, and you are left waiting for answers to all of your questions – but we recognise this.
The main impact on young adults has been mental health. Statistics show that since the pandemic began, young adults’ mental health problems have severely increased for numerous different reasons. Due to restrictions and the lockdowns implemented across the UK, many young people have been cut off from their everyday social lives. This has resulted in the breakdown of friendships and relationships, as physical interactions have been restricted completely. For example, maintaining the same bonds between people via social media, opposed to physical interactions, has proven difficult, thus isolating people from their friendships/relationships. With many young people still living in their family homes, it has also been hard to find the space they need to complete any work they have, or even to catch a minute alone. This has put further pressure on family relations, particularly in unstable homes, resulting in the degradation of young people’s mental health.
Having time alone enables us to connect with ourselves and relax, and so having this privilege taken away has forced young adults into isolation. It is hard to talk about mental health under normal circumstances, so for those struggling with lockdown, feelings of embarrassment or selfishness may arise, leaving people struggling alone. In addition to this, some young adults are living on their own, cutting them off from all physical social interaction with both family and friends. It is okay to feel trapped, or lonely – particularly with our surrounding environment seeming so unstable. If you need to talk to someone due to how you’re feeling, there are many options surrounding you. Talk to your family and friends; you will soon realise how you’re feeling isn’t abnormal and by connecting with others who feel the same way, you may be able to help each other. For further support, view our mental health section, or additionally follow the links below. These organisations can help provide further information (such as self-help tips) or connect you with people experiencing similar feelings:
Working from home has been a huge challenge across all age groups; working from home is completely new and stressful to most people, particularly for those who have limited access to technology. Fortunately for some students/employees, there are services available where loaning devices from educational institutes or the workplace is possible – however, others have been left scraping the limited finance they might have had to purchase the required equipment to continue their work. This has not only brought great stress to young adults, but has further identified the wealth differences amongst young adults. Feelings of embarrassment and shame can be significant on young people, further impacting their confidence or view of self-worth. Access to support for work has become harder to reach due to limited communication between young adults and their peers, alongside productivity levels in the home environment falling for many. As a result, students and employees may be falling behind on their work expectations, further adding stress to many young at such a pivotal point of starting their future careers.
For those in years 10-13, or the equivalent, exam periods have been significantly disrupted. It has been drilled into young minds that your future rides on the results of GCSEs and A-Levels, for instance – therefore, the disruption to education has brought significant stress upon young adults. Many have received predicted grades, which could have possibly been out-performed, and others have not been able to perform like they would have pre-pandemic. It is important to remember that your school qualifications do not define you and there are options available, whether this be returning to education or following alternative routes. For more information on this, visit our careers page. The nation is experiencing similar setbacks, so do not compare yourself to others. If you are suffering from mental health related issues, view our mental health page, or alternatively access the mental health support services located in the previous section.
With regards to future plans, it has been proven that young adults have been more susceptible to being furloughed or losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic, in comparison to any other age group. Not only has this significantly impacted life due to being unable to afford everyday basics, but young adults have also missed out on opportunities that could have kickstarted their career or have been relevant work experience for future opportunities. This stress has further fuelled mental health issues arising amongst young adults during the pandemic, leaving young adults struggling for basic needs. Compared to older generations, the cost of living for young adults is significantly higher due to the impact of inflation rates on the price of everyday goods and housing costs, alongside the already high rates young people are expected to pay for private-owned vehicles, for example. This generation of young adults are paid significantly lower for their work too, so despite possibly facing struggles pre-pandemic, life through the pandemic has proven to be more difficult for younger people than older generations, especially independent young adults. For additional support surrounding employment and the pandemic, view our employment support page, or follow the links below:
The UK is currently undergoing a huge vaccination roll out. The aim of the vaccination for COVID-19 is to help familiarise our immune system with the SARS-Cov-2 virus in order to reduce the risk of developing the coronavirus, or limit the symptoms you may experience from contracting the virus. In addition to this, the vaccine may also enable people to become immune to the virus, limiting the spread of COVID-19 and its casualties. Due to 1 in 3 people who have the coronavirus being asymptomatic (meaning you experience no symptoms), it is significant that the vaccine is taken up by everyone eligible for it, as the virus can easily be spread without realising. For young adults and children, the coronavirus generally has no, or few, health impacts upon contraction of the virus, which further increases the chance of you spreading the virus. Although the virus poses no significant threat to you, the impact of the coronavirus on your family or friends could be life threatening.
Access to the vaccination is controlled by current determining factors: those considered high risk due to health conditions, or anyone aged 40 and over. If you are not considered eligible for a vaccination just yet, once those considered of higher risk to the coronavirus are vaccinated, it is expected that younger people will then be offered vaccinations. To check whether you, or a family member, is eligible for a vaccination, click here.
As a young adult, you may not be eligible for a vaccination, but may have family members or friends who are. If you know someone eligible for a COVID vaccination, it is important that you encourage them to take it up. The media is greatly misinforming people on the significance of having the vaccine, which particularly is impacting those of older generations. Despite the pros of getting the vaccine outweighing the cons, many people are in two minds about being vaccinated. Freedom of choice can be respected – however, if misinformation is a key determining factor to not get the vaccine, people may be being misled. The pros of getting vaccinated are as follows:
- To help protect you from contracting the virus, or experiencing severe complications as a result of contracting the coronavirus.
- To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as you may become immune to the virus and so cannot spread the virus to others.
- The more people in a community that are vaccinated further limits the likelihood of the virus spreading, leading to the disappearance of the virus, or encouraging herd immunity.
- The fewer cases of coronavirus there are, the less likely it is for the virus to mutate and become resistant to the vaccinations already rolled out.
- And, of course: It is free!
Despite some risks being associated with being vaccinated, the chances of any significant side effects from the vaccination are extremely low. Although there have been reports of severe implications from having the coronavirus vaccination, such as developing blood clots, these risks are often attached to any vaccination we may have, alongside the everyday medication that we may consume too. If health professionals believe you or a loved one are at risk from receiving the vaccination, they may advise you to have a different strain of vaccination, or in some cases to not have the vaccination at all. Unless this is advised by a medical professional, it is very important that you and loved ones get vaccinated. By reinforcing accurate information to those who may be unsure about getting the vaccine or have been misled, you are not only helping to protect your near loved ones, but the nation too. People assume that if you are healthy, then the coronavirus won’t have a significant impact on them – however, many cases have proven that the virus can significantly damage ‘healthy people’, or even result in death.
Across the nation, it has been identified that those of ethnic minority groups, often referred to as the BAME (Black and Ethnic Minority) population, are less likely to take the COVID-19 vaccination. There are many reasons for this, including factors like little representation across vaccine trials causing uncertainty of side affects to different ethnic groups, negativity surrounding the treatment of different ethnic groups within the NHS, religious beliefs and the preference of medical treatment from ‘home’ countries. These factors, although respectable, are a threat to the succession of the vaccination program, along with a threat to different communities across the country. If you are of an ethnic-minority group living within the UK, it is important that you and loved ones receive the vaccination. In communities unvaccinated, there has been evidence of significantly high COVID-positive cases, which unfortunately has resulted in many deaths. Because communities are often well in-touch and close, the spread of the virus is often rapid and severe. If such groups were to be vaccinated, the spread of the virus could be significantly reduced within these communities. Additionally, the sooner people are vaccinated, the sooner international travel will return. This will enable such ethnic groups to travel to see family or even religious events, for instance. Much discrimination against the BAME community is still present in the modern world, but despite this, all races face the same risks when it comes to receiving the vaccine, which is significantly low.
Eventually, every nation will have access to the vaccination, many funded by more developed countries, including those rolled out by the UK and the EU. This means that even if people of the BAME community decided to get the vaccination in their ‘home’ country, it is likely that they’d receive the same vaccinations as the ones being distributed across the UK, but at a much later date. For additional information regarding vaccinations in the BAME community, follow the links below:
It is without doubt that many people have been impacted by this dreadful virus. For many families, feelings of sadness, frustration and even helplessness have become part of their new reality following the start of the pandemic. People have faced challenges that they’d never have imagined – whether it being how the virus has impacted themselves or family members or, for some, how the virus has taken loved ones too soon. It is okay to feel sad, overwhelmed, or perhaps in grief, but know you don’t have to suffer alone. Since the rise of COVID many services have become available regarding issues surrounding health impacts, grief and much more. If your health has been impacted, particularly in the long term, it is important to contact your GP; whether this is in relation to your physical or mental health. Below is a list of relevant links for help surrounding grief, mental and physical health:
Despite all the negativity surrounding the coronavirus, now, more than ever, your community needs you. If you want to play a part in helping others, there are many ways to get involved. This may include helping your family and friends to get by in their time of need, or even members of your community. For those isolating or restricted from socialisation, your help can be significant in their COVID struggle. You can get involved by providing basic needs for those in isolation, lending a helping hand to those unable to get out, or even help out those feeling lonely. If this is something that you’re interested in getting involved with, follow the links below: