It’s been almost a full year since the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in a major way. In late March last year I was advised by the National Health Service that I’m classified as “clinically extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19, and more likely to suffer serious complications from this nasty illness. That didn’t come as a surprise to me – and if you’ve been a regular reader here on the website you’ll know I’m in generally poor health. Because of my pre-existing health conditions I was put into one of the NHS’ priority groups to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
At the end of February I was given my vaccine appointment, and I promptly attended it. The UK’s vaccine rollout has been one of the best in the world, and the NHS deserves a huge amount of credit for the way they’ve handled things. Though there can be reasons to criticise the bureaucracy at the NHS sometimes, there can be no denying that, in this case, having a centralised system has helped immensely. Once the NHS got the ball rolling on vaccinating folks late last year, it became an unstoppable juggernaut, and the UK looks to be on course to have vaccinated everyone who could be vulnerable to coronavirus in short order, with the remainder of the population also vaccinated in time for summer.
My vaccination appointment went incredibly smoothly. I arrived on time, and was guided to the right entrance to the health centre by one of a number of volunteers. Once inside I gave my name and date of birth, and was handed a card which noted the batch number of the vaccine. From there I waited in the queue for less than five minutes, at which point I was ushered into a room, answered a couple of questions, and within literally 30 seconds of sitting down the needle was in my arm. And that was that. A very efficient process indeed!
Nobody likes getting an injection, and I will admit that my arm was a little sore in the hours after my appointment. But feeling the needle go into my arm was actually an incredible moment. After a year of shielding myself at home, not interacting with friends or family except online, and not being able to go anywhere or do anything, it was cathartic. It felt like the first step toward a return to normal life, and after the year we’ve all had, I’m more than ready for that!
I wasn’t sure whether or not to share my vaccine experience. This website is really a forum for me to discuss entertainment topics, so it isn’t really a good fit, nor is it something I would usually talk about. But unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic has seen a number of conspiracy theories propagated, including an expansion of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In whatever small way I can, I wanted to lend my voice and share my experience to re-emphasise that this vaccine is safe and to push back against anti-vaccine narratives.
In some communities, the reappearance of previously-eradicated diseases like measles, rubella, and even polio is directly and unquestionably attributable to anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and many of these same conspiracy theory proponents have begun arguing against the COVID-19 vaccine. This is incredibly dangerous.
Vaccines don’t just work on an individual basis, they work en masse. The more people who get vaccinated, the less chance a disease can break out because human-to-human transmission becomes impossible. Vaccines are not 100% effective on a personal level; they don’t provide everyone with protection due to various factors. It’s therefore up to all of us to protect one another. Receiving the vaccine is about so much more than just protecting yourself – it’s a civic responsibility to protect everyone in society, including those with serious illnesses or compromised immune systems who cannot receive the vaccine for themselves.
This is what many anti-vaccine folks seem to miss – and indeed what many anti-mask or anti-lockdown folks have missed throughout the pandemic. So let’s be very clear: it isn’t just about you. The actions that we take at a moment like this have the potential to affect everyone in society, and the effectiveness of any vaccination programme relies on as many people as possible receiving their dose when it’s their turn.
I’m not the only one to have been vaccinated. My elderly parents both received their first doses a few weeks ago, and a number of other friends and relatives have had theirs too. Nobody I’m aware of suffered any ill effects, and I can say with confidence that the vaccine is safe. I know there’s a lack of trust in our governments, leaders, politicians, and even scientists, and part of the reason why conspiracy theories in a general sense have become accepted by some folks is because of that mistrust. I don’t know how to counter that in the long run, nor what the consequences may be.
All I can say today is that I went to my appointment. I took the jab. I got vaccinated. There were no ill effects, no complications. The vaccine is safe, and I’m not saying that because of the result of a scientific study or because a politician said so. That’s my own lived experience. I truly hope that when it’s your turn, you’ll get vaccinated too. Then we can put all of this nonsense behind us and get back to living our lives.
There are several different COVID-19 vaccines available, with more on the way. When you can expect to receive your dose will depend on where you live, how old you are, your general state of health, and other factors. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.