Disclaimer: This blog will detail my personal account of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and should not replace medical advice. For up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme, please visit the NHS website.
With the vaccination programme continuing to be a roaring success, it won’t be long until young people are eligible to receive their first dose. I wanted to share my experience of the vaccination process by answering some of the frequently asked questions.
Why were you eligible for the vaccine in January?
I am a fourth-year dental student at the university and so a large portion of my course is undertaken in a clinical environment, treating patients that may be at a heightened risk of complications if they contracted the virus. Additional, dental work requires us to be in very close proximity to our patients, generating aerosols, and thus the risk of transmission is heightened.
To protect both the staff, students, and patients at the dental hospital, we were prioritised along with the rest of the NHS healthcare workers at the beginning of the vaccination programme.
Which vaccination did you receive?
I received the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccination, quite simply because it was the only one available to me at the time. I was incredible grateful to receive my vaccination at such an early stage within the roll-out, and so I certainly wasn’t going to be picky.
How did you book your vaccination?
I was able to book my vaccination through the dental hospital as a member of the NHS, which is slightly different to the public protocol.
From listening to friends and family talk about their experiences, I believe that you will receive correspondence from your GP when it is time to book your vaccination. As age has been found to still be the most significant risk factor, under 30s will be the last group eligible, so hang in there if that is you!
How does it work at the vaccination centre?
I attended the vaccination centre based at Manchester Royal Infirmary where the safety protocols were second to none; everyone is required to wear a mask (unless exempt), one-way systems are in place, and the seating is well spaced out.
I had a scheduled appointment time which meant there was no need to wait in a queue. Once I arrived at the centre, I sanitised my hands, put on one of the medical grade masks provided, and checked in at reception using my personal QR code. After signing in, I was taken to a private room by a nurse to receive my vaccination.
After receiving the jab, you are required to wait for 15minutes as a safety precaution before being dismissed.
Was the vaccination painful?
My vaccination felt like a sharp scratch, at most, and was over in seconds. Definitely nothing to worry about!
Did you have any side effects?
Some side effects are a completely normal response to an inoculation and if you do experience them, there is nothing to worry about.
After my first vaccination, I started to develop flu-like symptoms within 9 hours which included a headache, cold sweats, and muscle/joint pain. These symptoms lasted around 48 hours and once they had subsided, I was left feel lethargic for a couple of days. The morning after my second vaccination, I felt a little groggy but was perfectly fine (apart from a sore arm) by the afternoon.
From discussions with colleagues, everyone will respond very differently to the vaccination. I know some individuals who didn’t even have to a sore arm, whilst others (myself included) felt a little worse for wear. What I would say is that even at their worst, any side effects are a lot better than contracting Covid-19 and suffering the potential serious consequences or lasting damage that the virus can cause.
Why did you decide to get vaccinated when you are not at risk?
Firstly, no one is completely safe from serious illness or mortality, no matter what your age, and therefore I was more than happy to be protected against Covid-19 (I couldn’t roll my sleeve up fast enough!).
Secondly, the mass vaccination programme is not just about protecting the individuals who receive the vaccination, it is about protecting the entire nation. Consequently, as a future medical professional working with vulnerable individuals that may not be eligible for the vaccination, I felt that I had a responsibility to ensure the safety of my patients by getting vaccinated and reducing the risk of transmission.
My final thoughts on the vaccination
During this pandemic, the effects and consequences of our actions often go unseen and so I would encourage everyone to take up their vaccination when the time arises. Even if you don’t have contact with vulnerable or un-vaccinated people, you could still be the beginning of a chain that leads to someone who is at risk.
Plus, the sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner normal life can resume!