Well, here’s a post I could have never predicted that I’d write when I started blogging…
I will start by clarifying that this post is about my personal experience, my own opinions and my own understanding of the COVID vaccination. I welcome any questions but do also be aware that there are much more qualified people to direct any queries to!
I think we all know by now that the world as we knew it prior to 2020, has been flipped upside down… probably more than once. Life just hasn’t been the same since COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head and spread like wildfire, so it’s no surprise that the opinion of many people is that the only way out is with a vaccine.
I’m very much pro getting the jab, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. The vaccine is NOT compulsory, despite what some may seem to think. I can, however, completely understand why many people have reservations in that it came about so quickly… but really, seeing as this is a huge global issue, what else would you expect?! The research has been ongoing and the vaccine certainly wasn’t concocted overnight so personally, I trust the science.
Why I got the vaccine
I want to start by clarifying that I am by no means on the frontline and there are many people working more closely with the public and in a position of higher risk than me. However, I have worked throughout the pandemic in the healthcare sector so luckily for me I was in the second priority group for the vaccine.
In the UK, those currently receiving the vaccine are:
- people aged 80 and over
- some people aged 70 and over
- some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
I actually feel slightly guilty in a way that I got mine so quickly, because it felt a little like jumping the queue. However, with all that is going on the world, this was not an opportunity to be missed.
What it was like getting the vaccine
On January 13th, 2021, I found myself queuing up outside a health centre, in the rain… buzzing with excitement, but also with slight terror, as I HATE needles. I’m not the kind of gal to get jabbed unless I need it, let me tell you that much!
The system in place was incredible. The queue outside moved quickly and was socially distanced, with everyone respecting the rules and wearing masks. Then at the front door, my temperature was taken and hands sanitised before checking in. I then joined another socially distanced queue, following the markings on the floor of what I assumed would have normally been the waiting room. Again, it moved quickly but there was still enough time to read over the vaccination leaflet and see the ingredients of the vaccine and what side effects I might expect later on. Once I was at the front of the queue, I could see there were a number of rooms in use, with many people gliding in and out, as they received their jab.
A friendly lady called me in, asked me if I was generally healthy and if I may be pregnant. Side note: current advice is to wait until you have given birth to receive your vaccine, and this is purely because they’re not able to trial a vaccine on pregnant women. The NHS website states that “There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can routinely be offered it.” That being said, if you’re in a high risk group you can still get your jab, even if you’re pregnant.
I said that I was healthy, just very nervous… she made small talk to put me at ease and let me know that she was actually a phlebotomist, so very good with needles! Fun fact: many of those that work in medicine are training to deliver the jab so that it can be rolled out at quickly as it is.
The needle went in my arm quickly and painlessly. Just like that, I had my first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. I said my thank yous and made my way out of the back door, greeted by some of my colleagues who also had their jab at the same time, and we all went back to work for the afternoon!
I was amazed at how efficient the whole process was.
Did I have any side effects?
Keep in mind here that everyone will react differently to any kind of vaccine and mild side effects are common. With the Oxford vaccine, the most common side effects include:
- tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching, swelling or bruising where the injection is given
- generally feeling unwell
- feeling tired (fatigue)
- chills or feeling feverish
- feeling sick (nausea)
- joint pain or muscle ache
You can read more about the less common side effects, as well as all the other information from the vaccine leaflet, here.
For me personally, I feel that I ticked off most of the above but let me be clear in that I did not feel extremely unwell in the slightest. A couple of colleagues felt a lot worse than me (many of us went the same day) but on the other hand, many didn’t feel anything afterwards at all. Like I said, everyone will react differently.
12 hours post vaccine – during the night
I woke up in a cold sweat, like… really sweaty. Plus, I ached all over. That being said, I didn’t actually think anything of this as I also had a really strange dream, which is not uncommon for me and I often wake up in the night, somewhat clammy and aching.
Day 1 post vaccine
After that fairly disturbed nights sleep, I got ready for work. Group chats on WhatsApp pinged away as we all discussed how we felt and then I realise that perhaps my night sweats were actually due to the vaccine. I still didn’t feel too bad so I didn’t mind. Lots of people were feeling much worse then me but as I said, about the same number of people also felt absolutely fine.
For the rest of the day, getting ever so gradually worse in the afternoon, I personally had a very fuzzy head and felt extremely tired, as well as having hot flushes. By the time I was home, I was utterly exhausted.
Some people had a completely dead arm or painful injection site but I personally had no pain at all in my arm.
Day 2 post vaccine
I had an early night and then felt fine the next day. All of my other colleagues also said they felt fine by now as well. I was still quite tired but seeing as the dog kept us up that second night and it’s not unusual for me not to sleep well, again I didn’t blame the vaccine!
My arm was a bit sore by this point but not bad at all, mainly just a little sting around the injection site.
Day 3 post vaccine
I felt completely normal with just a little sting in my arm every now and then. I didn’t even feel the sting by the fourth day and everything was completely back to how I felt pre-vaccine.
The whole experience was incredible and without sounding over the top, I feel honoured to be part of it all – let’s face it, this really is history in the making.
Don’t get me wrong though, I have my own doubts too… I can’t help but feel uneasy about the fact that the time between doses was increased from 3 weeks to up to 12 weeks. I understand why it was done and it’s meant that a much larger number of people were able to receive their first dose, however I do wonder how the gap could have been increased by such a significant amount of time. On the other hand, I’m very much one to trust the process so for now, I eagerly await an appointment for the second dose.
But what happens if you don’t receive the second jab?
My completely honest answer can only be that I don’t really know. My understanding is that the first dose only gives a certain amount of immunity, I believe around 60%, and then the second dose then boosts this up to over 90% and means that it will last longer. This is only what I gather from the information that’s been available to me, and I’m the furthest thing away from an expert on the matter! That being said, I’m keen to update you all once I do get the second dose or if I do get any more information.
I hope this post has been helpful and if you have any questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccination, then please feel free to ask away!