How it felt to attend my first Covid vaccine appointment after months of shielding
In years to come, I will always remember January 29, 2021.
And that's because it was the day I took a step towards normality after months of shielding, receiving my first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
I'm classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus due to a blood condition which affects my ability to fight infection. And I've been counting down to that first vaccine appointment, hoping it would come by the Government's target date of February 15.
When it did arrive, I couldn’t believe it. I had watched for weeks as millions across the nation headed out for their first jabs, knowing mine would soon follow.
My appointment was at a GP-led vaccination centre and I would like to pay tribute to the staff and volunteers making everything happen.
Managing queues, taking names, checking in, sorting seats, handing out paperwork - they did it all with a smile and brought such a positive energy to a place where, I'm sure, some were anxious to be.
After a few minutes of socially-distanced queueing, I was seated with a nurse and running through some questions (did I have any Covid symptoms, had I ever had an allergic reaction, was I on certain types of medication). Then, it was time.
I felt next to nothing. There was no "sharp scratch" as with a blood test and - thinking back to my most recent flu jab in September - no quick sting.
I received the Pfizer vaccine, meaning I had to wait in the foyer for 15 minutes afterwards before leaving. Then, armed with my second appointment date for the spring, I left the centre feeling a million times lighter.
The pandemic has tested all of us in so many ways and after some tough moments, January 29 was the day I felt the clouds lift.
In the early months of Covid-19, having a vaccine to fight against this devastating illness felt miles off. Now I, and millions of others, are lucky enough to have already benefited from the biggest vaccination roll-out in NHS history.
There will still be many difficult weeks and months ahead for us and for our loved ones, but there will be better days ahead.
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