I arrived at the centre early this morning after giving myself a pep talk about why I shouldn’t be nervous. In the past I’ve had drugs for all sorts of diseases, malaria, yellow fever, typhoid etc due to travel, and haven’t once had any strange reaction or significant side effects other than a sore arm. So, I told myself firmly, there was no reason to be scared about this one. It’s been given to nearly 10 million other people, most of them very old, frail, or unwell so why on earth would I waste time and energy thinking about how it could harm me when it hasn’t harmed anybody else at all, out of millions?! This is what I told myself. It’s all true, but…
People with health anxiety can have unrealistic worries about taking the simplest of medicine so a new vaccine is a bit out of my comfort zone. But I knew it was the right thing to do and would benefit me and my loved ones, and indeed wider society, a great deal – and is far, far easier to go through than getting the illness itself.
Back at the centre I was greeted by a staff member who ushered me into a small side room where I confirmed my date of birth, NHS number, and a date for my second dose of the vaccine. I was also given some paperwork stating what vaccine I was having (Pfizer BioNtech) and a list of possible side effects – which I definitely didn’t want to know about! Then I was lead out of the side room into another small room where a nurse was waiting for me. I sat down in a chair and she asked if I’d ever experienced a significant allergic reaction to anything before, I confirmed I hadn’t, she asked if there was a chance I could be pregnant, I guffawed, and then she stood up and prepared the vaccine. I was feeling pretty nervous by now. I needed the loo and had sweaty palms and my heart was beating fast. I took my jumper off and rolled up the left sleeve of my t-shirt while she drew some colourless liquid from a vial into a short needle. She then asked me to drop my left arm straight down, not hold it bunched up, and in a quick movement stuck the needle into my deltoid muscle. It was not painful at all, just a tiny sting… and it was only in for about two seconds before she pulled it out again and said, “there, all done!”
It was so simple. We chatted a little bit about hot flushes (I’d already said I wouldn’t put my jump back on in case I got too hot) and then she showed me out of the room and more staff directed me to sit in a chair in a side corridor, or in another room in socially distanced chairs. I had to sit there for fifteen minutes while they waited to see if I had a severe reaction, which I didn’t, and after my allotted time was up I was free to leave. I still didn’t feel anything adverse and was DELIGHTED with myself for going through with it.
I went straight from there to the canteen and got myself a cup of tea, which I drank while reading the news on my phone, and after that I volunteered for Macmillan for the next three hours as planned. At about midday I got a slight headache and took two paracetamols in case it got worse, but I can’t say for sure whether that was caused by the vaccine or whether it was one of my regular headaches. I’m in a migraine phase at the moment and have been taking strong pain killers for that for the past three or four days anyway. Today was the first day in ages when I didn’t wake up with a migraine – thank goodness!
Other than that I feel fine. Colleagues at Macmillan say they felt tired or dizzy, had headaches and an aching body after the injection, and many of them said they had very sore arms where the needle went in, but so far none of that applies to me. Just the minor headache. Tomorrow may be different – I don’t know. I’ll do an update at the bottom of this post so you’ll know.
In conclusion, without doubt it’s worth it to have the jab. I’ve seen the disease kill a man with my own eyes, and I’ve personally experienced getting the vaccination. The two do not compare – they’re opposite ends of the extremes. Even for people with health anxiety or GAD it’s much much better to get the vaccine than not.
UPDATE: Day 1 after the injection – no side effects whatsoever. Day 2 after the injection – no side effects I can directly attribute to the vaccination. Felt a little headachy, but that’s fairly normal for me.