Fringe Box



Vaccine Vexation? Yes a Bit, But I Feel a Step Closer to Normality

Published on: 12 May, 2021
Updated on: 14 May, 2021

Julie Armstrong, LDRS reporter, at the G Live Vaccination Centre

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

We’ve all heard the horror stories, fatal blood clots, “vaccine left me like an elephant woman” and so on. Those did make me nervous. The seemingly endless variables leaves my head in a spin.

I reasoned the risk of dying of Covid was greater than the risk of thrombosis. What is clear is if younger people don’t get vaccinated, another surge of Covid would push up the risk of death for anyone unvaccinated.

So when my phone pinged and NHSNoReply flashed up, I did let out a shriek of glee. Finally, my time had come. After all the months of waiting, IT WAS MY TURN! I would go to Womad.

Perhaps the most distressing part of all of this was having to recognise this meant I’d turned 40. “What priority group are you in?” someone asked. None, I replied, I’m just… old.

I wasted no time in booking the first available appointment, at 8am four days later. G Live in Guildford was my nearest option and was only a half-hour drive.

After two days, NHS technology reared its head like a crocodile grabbing a wildebeeste when I received a text from NHSvaccine: “You are now eligible for your free NHS Covid-19 vaccine.”

Um, déjà vu. Well it hadn’t given me the option of booking a second jab initially, so I’ll try to book that now, I thought. But when I clicked on the link I was told I had missed my appointment and would have to rebook.

Err, I wasn’t aware of taking a trip in the DeLorean and forgetting to do the thing I’d been awaiting for five long months. Did my booking not work, then?

The long-anticipated day arrived so with some relief I found I was

s on their system, and was told I’d get a second text in about 10 weeks when I could book in again.

Vaccination queue at G-Live in April

From the moment I entered the car park (free for those getting the vaccine) till the moment I left the door, it was slick. I was guided by cheerful volunteers and felt completely safe.

A socially-distanced queue, everyone masked, through the door and I was given a squirt of hand gel and a gun to the head to take my temperature.

On being given a leaflet I’ll admit my heart did sink for a second to learn it was AstraZeneca, but when I thought of the scenes in India I felt ashamed.

Let’s not forget that the risk of a blood clot during pregnancy is seven times higher than the contraceptive pill but we don’t advise people to not get pregnant.” David Spiegelhalter

In no time I was beckoned to a nurse, who asked a few questions to check for any allergies or blood-thinning medication.

I felt a very brief prick and that was it. It was done. I felt like there should be fireworks going off, but the sky did not erupt with colour. Instead, I was told I could leave.

As AZ is unlikely to cause a reaction and I wasn’t driving, there was no need to be supervised for 15 minutes.

I was in and out in quarter of an hour and off for an eight-mile walk from Pewley Down towards Newlands Corner.

It wasn’t for about three hours I had any symptoms to speak of. Then, it floored me. A wave of intense sleepiness arrived and every limb felt like a lead weight to lift.

Quite severe muscular aches lasted all evening, with a few random shooting pains thrown in. I took it as a good sign that my immune system was working.

After some paracetamol I fell asleep and when I woke the next morning I felt fine. The usual post-vaccine sore arm had set in, which lasted about three days.

AZ is thought to be about 70 per cent effective after two weeks, rising to 85 per cent after the second dose. It also means you’re between 38% to 49% less likely to pass the virus to others.

Knowing I will soon be able to hug my mum again more than makes up for some temporary aches and fatigue, and even the pain of my new age bracket.

To the scientists whose astonishing work managed to achieve this gift in under a year, and to the people kind enough to work or even give up their free time on a Bank Holiday, you have all played a part in our return to normality.

And knowing that is one step closer, really did put a spring in mine. Thank you.

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