Real-life stories

Amber Sunner’s Vaccination Experience

I have an array of underlying health conditions – some of which make me at a higher risk of dying from the coronavirus. I am on the extremely clinically vulnerable list – I haven’t ventured out much during the pandemic’s peak. When I was invited to get a vaccine, I quickly booked my appointment for the same week. The procedure was one of the utmost safety. I was greeted outside of the vaccination centre by volunteer helpers who gave me a hand sanitiser and a new face mask to help reduce the transmission of the virus.

The ceremony hall where I had a college awards gathering had made the transformation into a centre that administers life-saving vaccines. Each chair was two metres apart in line with government guidance. Every person was wearing a disposable mask – and it was a scene I thought I would never see in my lifetime. Nevertheless, such precautions are necessary in precarious times like these.

The ceremony hall where I had a college awards gathering had made the transformation into a centre that administers life-saving vaccines.

Amber Sunner

I sat on a chair and waited for my turn. I was eager to get the vaccine after shielding since the pandemic took a stronghold of the nation. My name was called and as I sat in a plastic chair and rolled up my sleeve, a small needle was inserted into my arm. Painless and easy – it was over in five seconds and it gave me a newfound assurity. I was given a small card – the size of a coffee rewards card – for the date and the type of vaccine I had been administered.

Everyone who had had the jab was made to sit in a separate part of the hall for at least 15 minutes for monitoring purposes. I was asked to wait 20 minutes because of my medication. After this time was up I was free to go. It’s clear the vaccine rollout is working – quick and efficient is how I would sum up my experience.

I received the second dose of my vaccine over two months later. The procedure repeated – the only difference was that the second vaccine seemed to present some side effects in me. I became very nauseous and had a sore arm – these symptoms persisted for two days but I now feel perfectly fine.

Eliott Brennans’ Vaccination Experience

At one random moment during the day, I saw I had received a text message. Upon opening it, I realised it was from my local GP inviting me to have the vaccine. At first, I was perplexed. I am a 21-year-old with no previous health conditions. I felt as if I had almost skipped the queue if the text was real.

I immediately called the GP to check that the text was the invite people received. They confirmed it and that I should book my appointment regardless of my age and health. So I did. It is a weird feeling as the day and time of your booking gets closer and closer. It will most likely vary depending on the type of person you are. I was just anxious to get it over with.

Coincidentally my dad had booked his on the same day. When the day came, my dad had little to say other than how seamless the process was. When I arrived, I was surprised to see the setting outside the building. It was so calm and organised.

A steward pointed to the door I should wait at. The entrance was a fire exit as the reception was being used for the exit or a waiting area some people have to use. A lady opened the door and asked me to sit down. There was only an elderly gentleman waiting for his jab. He left almost immediately. Maybe a minute later, they called me through.

I sat down with the nurse asking me the routine questions: Am I a key worker? Do I have allergies? Do I take blood thinner pills?

Nonetheless, there was one glitch in the process. The nurse was working from two computers and I presume two different systems. I think the nurse couldn’t find my appointment on one of the systems. I wasn’t exactly sure what the problem was, but they were just as confused as myself. I showed the doctor the texts I received before and after my booking. The doctor confirmed they were from the GP. After a couple of minutes, the nurse noted down my date of birth and surname so they could find a solution to the problem later on.

The doctor collected the dose and subtlety injected it into me. I felt nothing and it was over in seconds. The nurse handed me my vaccination card with the vaccine type (AstraZeneca), batch number and date of my first dose. After, I received a yellow sticker meaning I did not need to wait 15 minutes in the waiting room. I walked out of the GP feeling impressed by the process.

For the first 12 hours, I had little side effects. I was probably more fatigued than I normally was, I had a pain where the injection went in and perhaps, I was a little bit achy. However, the worst of the side effects came during the night when I woke up shivering (flu like symptoms can be a side effect) with a bigger pain in my arm and aches across my body. It is fair to say it was a stop-start night.

The next day I was understandably tired. The side effects were still ongoing, and an afternoon nap helped a lot. Aching eventually subsided and I went to sleep the following night with only mild pain in my arm. The small pain was completely gone within a few days.

Now I wait for the end of May for my second dose.

Kadeem Williams’ Vaccination Experience

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been taking precautions to protect myself and others, so I was always going to take the vaccine when it became available and offered to me. Here’s my experience of receiving my first dose.

I also have asthma which during the last year has been quite sporadic and flared up on multiple occasions, meaning that I take my reliever inhaler to combat symptoms when they appear. I have also been offered a steroid inhaler from my asthma nurse at the start of the pandemic.

My father who has been shielding since March 2020 was called for his vaccine and carers for those who are shielding are also eligible for vaccines, so I was offered mine when I went with my father.

The process was quite simple and required me to fill in a health form answering questions about any allergies that I may have and if I had previously had COVID within the past 4 weeks, and then asked if I was showing any COVID symptoms. Following this my temperature was checked and I had to sanitise my hands before taking my seat at the nurse’s table to receive my vaccine.

After this, I received my vaccination sticker and a card to note which vaccine I had and the batch number and a guidance leaflet which told me what side effects I may experience. I was also asked to wait in the seating area for 15 minutes to see if I had any side effects along with many other people who received their vaccines as well.

Once my 15 minutes was up I went back home and waited for the side effects that I usually get after a vaccine, and that night I had a mild fever, headache, drowsiness and a sore arm.

At the time of writing this, I am sitting on a train on my way home to receive my 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine, 10 weeks after my first dose.

Paul Singh’s* Vaccination Experience

I was originally sceptical of the vaccine after seeing a lot of content discouraging it. For a long time, I was actually against the vaccine – I believed the content because it looked so convincing. I saw videos from people claiming to be medical professionals offering ‘evidence’ as to why the vaccine is bad for you.

This content is undeniably harmful – it almost convinced me not to get the vaccine. One day, at the dinner table I mentioned to my children the worry I was feeling towards getting it. They quickly reassured me that the vaccine was safe and helped me figure out that what I was seeing wasn’t true at all.

I got my first dose of the AstraZeneca Vaccine a month ago. The process was very quick and easy. I made my way to the vaccination centre, checked in and waited for about 10 minutes for my name to get called. Everyone was wearing masks and I could see workers sanitising chairs. It felt very surreal but I understood everything was necessary and safe. Once my name was called I went over to my nurse. I recognised her from my doctor’s office so I was put right at ease from the start. The needle was painless and I was made to wait the 15 minutes post-vaccine.

It felt very surreal but I understood everything was necessary and safe.

Paul Singh

I felt great after having the vaccine. I had been staying in my house a lot for fear of getting the disease as I am in a high-risk category. Now I have that extra layer of added security I feel comfortable venturing out – but I am still following government guidelines. My side effects were very minimal – just a sore arm that faded after a few days. I feel safe and well and I believe the end of this pandemic is fast approaching. We’re on the last stretch – the more people that get the vaccine, the quicker we reach the finish line.

Words of Paul Singh – Written by Amber Sunner

*Names have been changed to protect identity