Vaccination – Hope for Normality?
A first hand account from one of Your Employee Wellbeing’s consultants on having the Covid -19 vaccination.
As we enter our 3rd national lockdown in the face of spiralling numbers of new Coronavirus cases (thanks to a ‘mutant’ variant) it’s hard not to feel – as you look out at the cold, grey January weather – that we are living a scenario none of us would have felt able to countenance back in the sunny days of NHS clapping last spring. We are going to have to dig deep to get through this one. The big difference this time, of course, are the vaccines – now a concrete reality, thanks to incredible collaborative efforts within scientific communities around the globe.
According to the government website, more than a million people in the UK have received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and yesterday (4th January 2021) saw the first people receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to which the government has secured access to 100 million doses.
Here is a first-hand account from our Elder Care Consultant, Lindsey Abbott, about her experience as one of the earliest recipients of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine:
On the 31st December 2019 I was seeing in the New Year with thoughts of travelling abroad. It was my husband’s 60th birthday year and we had planned some special trips to celebrate. We completed the first one to South Africa and Zimbabwe and returned just before the first lockdown took place. Since then (like millions of others in the UK) we have certainly not travelled far.
Fast forward twelve months to the 31st December 2020. On this day I was given the Pfizer/ BioNTech COVID 19 vaccine. I support a lady in a care home and have witnessed first-hand how challenging it has been for care home staff to ensure that the residents were protected following the outbreak of the pandemic. So how positive it is now to have a vaccine that can help the elderly residents have a better quality of life and provide peace of mind for the staff who are front line workers and at much higher risk of exposure to the infection!
There were three nurses on site at the care home to administer the vaccine. In addition, a doctor was available should anyone display signs of a reaction to the first dose which would usually happen within the first few minutes of the injection.
I sat down on a chair, was asked if I had any serious allergic reaction to any previous jabs, the date of my last flu jab and the present state of my health before the vaccine was injected into my upper arm. Following the injection, I was told to wait 15 mins before being able to go home so that the doctor could monitor that all was ok. I was also given a leaflet about the vaccine and the side effects such as a stiff arm or a headache. So far thousands of people have been given the vaccine and reports of side effects have, I am glad to say, been very rare.
During the waiting time, I helped give out tea and biscuits to the residents. One of the elderly ladies I spoke to was pleased to have had it as she said she felt safer now and hoped it meant that she would be able to see more of her family in the weeks to come. We read about the huge impact the lack of family contact can have on the elderly and so I hope the vaccine can go some way to improving their wellbeing.
As I write this the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine has just been rolled out. How proud I am that scientists from Oxford University have co-developed it. The two vaccines now give the country a way forward in the medium term as they create an antibody response without having to experience sickness. However, we must still be vigilant and remember the strain that the NHS is under as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the UK. It is clear that stopping a pandemic of this nature is not easy and requires all the tools we have available to give us back some semblance of the quality of life we were so fortunate to have enjoyed not so long ago.
Of course, there are many questions out there. Will the vaccines work as effectively against the new strain(s)? Is the plan to leave a longer period between the two doses the best course of action? Should we be considering mixing and matching vaccines? And ultimately, how soon before enough people are vaccinated for it to start to make an impact on our quality of life? Time will tell.
For now, Lindsey’s positive experience sounds a welcome note of optimism in a dark time and reminds us how far we’ve come since last March and that there is cause for optimism. It isn’t all doom and gloom. We must try and stay positive and have hope for normality.
Thank you to Lindsey for her article. Lindsey advises our clients on their elder care concerns.
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