Updated: Feb 4
On Saturday 23rd January I had my first Covid-19 vaccination. I have Bullous Pemphigoid which means I am on an immunosuppressant medication. I also have high blood pressure, Asthma and am on the diabetic register. All of this means I am CEV (Clinically Extremely Vulnerable) so I’m high up the list for the “Jab”.
I know many of you reading this may also be CEV and wanting to know what happens on Vaccination Day so I wanted to write this post to tell people about my experience of having my first dose of the vaccine.
First of all I did not go alone as my husband Paul is also shielding, well we’ve been together for quite a while and do quite a lot together! In some ways I was lucky to be going with him, but I’d rather he wasn’t CEV of course.
I was on a Pem Friends zoom chat on the Thursday when I heard Paul talking on the phone. I had missed a call to me but they didn’t leave a voicemail as they’d be inundated with return calls. Luckily for us it was our GP practice administering the vaccines and it’s literally a 5-minute walk up the road. So no long journey thankfully. When he’d accepted our invites and put the phone down I asked him which type of vaccine we’d be having. His reply “Dunno, didn’t think to ask!" Oh well. I immediately thought I’d better contact them to ask but then thought “why?” I’ve done quite a lot of research for the website on vaccines and which are safe etc. but had decided that as soon as it was available to me, I would have it. There is so much posted about vaccines out there and it’s very difficult to work out which is true or useful information and which isn’t. In the end I think you basically have to trust what your clinician or doctor advises, so I did.
My next thought was to make sure I have my NHS number on me as they may well need it when I go. In the end it was ok for me and Paul as we belong to the practice where we were having the vaccine. If you are going anywhere else take it with you, it saves time.
The next thing I did was contact my children to tell them their respected parents were having the jab on Saturday. Then I told my family and friends. Then I told the best group on the web Pem Friends. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1501381213444947/
It made me realise how lucky I am as I got lots of replies and “Good Lucks” and it could well be the best invite I have ever received. I could never have imagined a few years ago that this piece of news would be my best received post on Facebook too!
The night of Friday 22nd I didn’t sleep too well as I was a bit nervous but excited. The day dawned very cold and I awoke to snow on trees. My first thought was “I Hope queue isn't too long!” There was a message from my bestie and a message from my daughter both saying “Good Luck”.
Then I sneezed! “Oh no, they’ll turn me away for having Covid-19 symptoms, disaster!” I’m not a worrier really.
The appointment wasn’t until 3pm so it seemed like a long wait and I couldn’t settle to anything. My mind started wandering until it settled on a famous Churchill quote:
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
10 months in lockdown tends to have that effect on one!
So, 5 minute’s walk up the road and the queue was really short, about 10 people in front of us. Lucky again. The gate to the back of Merridale Medical Centre was shut and behind it is a big marquee. The next big choice was who goes first, me or Paul, but that wasn’t our decision in the end as we were given “Jab numbers.” Then the gate opened and a masked lady with a clipboard emerged. She went down the line ticking us off and asked people who weren’t social distancing if they were together. I’d like to have said no about Paul, considering how he was dressed, but oh well, can’t have everything!
Then they let us through the gate and we filed into the tent (after a forehead temperature check and using gel on our hands) and were shown where to sit.
We were given a clipboard with a pen and asked to fill out a form. Apart from the usual questions about name, address etc they asked about pregnancy and if we’d had a reaction to anything previously or whether we carried an EpiPen. They didn’t ask whether we were immunosuppressed but as it’s our practice they have all our notes. There was a form on the other side for official use where other things could be noted.
After the form filling everyone was given a number (I think there were 30 to 40 of us waiting and distanced from each other apart from people like me and Paul who were together.) We were then told about possible side effects of the vaccine and informed we were having the Pfizer. Then it was time to queue up again and wait to be let into the building. My mum was German and sometimes the German in me comes out and I wanted to rush inside and put my towel on a seat.
Anyway, in we filed and it was easy to spot my seat.
We then sat on our seats and awaited the almost conveyor belt like jabbing. However the staff, (many of whom I recognised) were their usual cheerful self and once we were all jabbed we waited for 15 minutes in our seats in case of reactions. The staff stayed too and kept an eye on us and were very solicitous with anyone feeling uncomfortable or nervous.
Finally we were give a card to carry with us and let out by the other door.
We had a nice cup of tea and a hot cross bun when we got home and both Paul and I felt fine, with just a slightly sore arm.
The next day my arm felt a bit bruised and sore and my skin was itchy around it. I also sneezed a bit but to be honest some of the side effects they described that we may get are how I feel a lot of the time due to the Pemphigoid. Paul’s arm was only slightly sore. The soreness disappeared quickly and I feel so happy to have had my first vaccination.
I can’t thank my medical centre enough who have been brilliant throughout and the vaccination administration was so well organised and I felt very safe.
Roll on the second dose.
PS this blog has been difficult to write as my cat Malccy has been ever present on my lap whilst I tried to type, but he’s worth it!!
Watch this space for the second dose,