My COVID19 Vaccination Experience
Hi everyone, Phoebe here from the STEM Response Team. This post is going to be a little bit different to what I usually write — I’m going to tell you all my experience getting a COVID19 vaccine! I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to get my first dose on Saturday 6th March 2021, just under a year after the whole country went into it’s first lockdown. So I’m going to answer some questions about the process, and talk through my NHS mass vaccination experience step-by-step.
How Did You Book Your COVID19 Vaccine?
I had been in touch with my GP to ensure that my medical records were all up to date (I had recently moved to a new GP surgery, so had to double check that they had all of my information), and made sure that they had all the information they needed. If you have been with the same GP surgery for a long time, you likely won’t have to do this.
Some of my family and friends had received either a phone call or letter from the COVID19 vaccination booking system or their GP. I went onto the NHS COVID19 vaccination booking service website to choose my local vaccination centre and pick my two vaccine slots, one for the next day, and one for some time in May 2021.
Remember: you will NEVER be asked for any sensitive personal information or banking information when you’re asked to book your COVID19 vaccination, apart from your name, your date of birth, and your NHS Number. Be wary of fraudsters trying to get your information.
I then confirmed my vaccination booking dates and times, popped them into my calendar so I wouldn’t forget, and patiently awaited my first appointment!
What Happens On The Day?
I took a taxi to my local vaccination centre (making sure to sanitise my hands and wear a mask in accordance with government rules), and arrived around 10 minutes before my appointment time.
I waited in a short queue to get into the centre (head’s up, you’re going to see the word ‘queue’ a lot from here on out). They then check your booking details, this can be either an official text, email, or letter with your booking confirmation number(s) on it, and also take your temperature. There are hang gel dispensers all around, and they give you a new mask to wear. They also ask throughout the entire process whether or not you have COVID19 symptoms (high temperature, persistent cough, loss or change of taste/smell).
I was then directed into a large sports hall (my local venue is a sports centre), where I was ushered into my second socially distanced queue of the day. Once you get to the front, you head over to one of the computer registration desks. They will once again ask for your booking confirmation information, as well as your full name and date of birth. If you’re a carer or social worker, they will also ask for evidence of employment (either a letter or lanyard). They will ask you to confirm that you qualify for the vaccination (I told them that I have asthma, but I wasn’t asked to provide proof of this) and complete the initial registration. I was then handed a vaccination card and medical information leaflet for the vaccine I was due to be given, and then moved over to the third queue.
The third queue led me to a table with a nurse, where we discussed the vaccine and my medical history in more depth — explaining my chronic asthma as well as mentioning my allergy to penicillin (they like to know about any allergies). They asked questions about allergic reactions; if I have ever been issued an Epi-pen; if I have a history of fainting with needles; if I have been part of previous COVID19 clinical trials, and more.
Once I (happily) gave consent for the vaccine, I headed over to the fourth and final queue of my visit. This was the main queue for the vaccine itself — with friendly staff checking up on you and making sure you weren’t going to faint at the sight of a needle! Once I reached the front, I was directed to a freshly cleaned vaccine cubicle, where I was met by a lovely medical student who would be issuing my vaccine. We confirmed all of my personal details, and started the vaccination process. Once my vaccinator drew up my vial of the vaccine, a member of Pharmaceutical staff came to confirm the type of vaccine and that the dosage was correct, before I lifted my sleeve and took the injection like a champ.
It wasn’t painful, and was done in a second! I then left the cubicle and was directed to a seating area. Because I hadn’t driven myself, I was able to leave straight away, but they do ask those who drove themselves over to wait 10–15 minutes after their vaccine just to make sure they don’t have any side effects that could impact their driving (such as drowsiness).
There was quite a bit of queueing involved throughout, but the overall process did not take long — I was back home within the hour. The staff were all very kind, and incredibly organised. There were plenty of cleaning staff maintaining high hygiene standards, and medical staff on call for the rare instance that anyone would require assistance.
The Aftermath Of Receiving A Covid19 Vaccine
All I had was an achy arm on the way home, however, a few hours later I started to feel warm and my joints felt a tad achy. I went to bed early, and took it easy over the Sunday and Monday — the aches and hot flushes came in waves for me, but some family and friends of mine who have been vaccinated had slightly different side affects. These symptoms ranged from some vomiting to a persistent fever and headache — everyone’s immune system can respond differently. Some people I know haven’t had any side affects at all aside from the achy arm!
The biggest take away from this is that any side affects you could experience in the short-term from having any of the COVID19 vaccinations available is better than contracting the virus in every way. Some achy joints and a fever for me is worth not only my chance of infection and transmission of COVID19 going down significantly, but also the greater protection of those around me in public and the loved ones that I live with.
All that’s left for me to do is wait! My second dose is in May, approximately 12 weeks after my first dose. Regardless, I will still be following UK Covid19 guidelines by only going out when necessary, not meeting people outside of my household, and always wearing a mask and sanitising my hands when I do have to go anywhere in public. Even once fully vaccinated, following the present COVID19 guidelines is the best way of protecting yourself and others.
If you have any questions or queries about the COVID19 vaccinations currently on offer across the UK, take a look at the NHS website or call 119 to speak to someone at the UK Coronavirus Hotline.
To be a part of the national healthcare efforts all over the country, and help make changes for the better of public health, consider the University of Wolverhampton for your future? From Biomedical Science, to Nursing, to Public Health and Medical Sciences — there are plenty of pathways to healthcare for you to choose from. Make a difference and join the pack today.