Last week, I was lucky enough to be offered the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. As a Science Editor, I spent a lot of last term writing articles updating you all on the vaccines and their progress, so I thought I'd share my honest personal experience.
As someone with a long-standing health condition, I am part of one of the top four priority groups identified by the UK Government for early vaccination. My GP contacted me offering the jab, however as I wasn't in London due to lockdown, I got it done through the local services in my hometown instead. It was really quick and easy to use the online system to book a slot at my closest mass vaccination hub, which happened to be only a couple minutes walk away from my house (this part was incredibly convenient and probably won't be the experience for many people!). Many slots were available; I chose a slot in two days' time, and also had to book my second jab at the same time.
The whole process took less than 10 minutes from start to finish and I was thoroughly impressed by the efficiency
After being asked to sanitise my hands and replace my face mask, I signed in using my booking reference number and joined the queue. With a grand total of one person ahead of me, the wait lasted about a minute or so and I was soon stewarded towards a vaccinator. The vaccinator was friendly, asked me to confirm my details, and asked me a series of questions including if I had ever had any allergic reactions to vaccines before. I was then told I was being given the Oxford vaccine, and asked if I wanted to continue with the vaccination or not.
I should note that you don't get a choice of vaccine; you get the one offered to you, or you can decline it and not be vaccinated. As explained in extensive Felix Science coverage, there is a wealth of scientific evidence to suggest that both vaccines currently being used are safe and effective, so I decided to go ahead with the Oxford vaccine.
I barely even noticed that the needle went in, and before long it was out again. I was then given an information sheet for the vaccine, an "I've had my Covid vaccine" sticker, and an appointment card for the next dose due in April. After going through a waiting area, where those who want to drive are asked to wait for 15 minutes in the case of any adverse reaction, I exited the building. The whole process took less than 10 minutes from start to finish and I was thoroughly impressed by the efficiency - hopefully this is the case with other vaccination hubs as well!
While I had no side effects for the next few hours, later that night my arm started to feel slightly sore and I felt generally ill. My symptoms matched closely with "fatigue" and "feeling feverish/having chills" which are all listed on the information sheet as very common symptoms that affect more than 1 in 10 people, so I wasn't too worried and just decided to get some sleep.
I felt better after waking up but spent the next day resting. The day after that, I felt completely fine.
Having questions about any medical procedure being done to you is your right and you should make use of it; use reliable sources, like the NHS website or your GP, to find out more about the vaccine and any potential side effects. Ultimately, it is your body and your choice.
However, if you want my opinion: I would strongly encourage everyone who is able to do so to get vaccinated when called upon. Even if you are unlikely to get seriously ill from the virus, by getting vaccinated you contribute to herd immunity and help protect those who can't get vaccinated. This is our way out of the crisis - let's take it!