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As of this weekend, 3.5m doses of coronavirus vaccines have been delivered in the UK, more than 400,000 of which were second doses. For a country that has lived under coronavirus restrictions for almost a year, the vaccines are providing a welcome step back towards normal life.
Four people who have received their vaccine share their experiences and hopes for the future.
‘I felt as though I’d entered the next phase of my life”
Dorothy Highfield, 83, a retired primary school headteacher who lives in Shrewsbury, was vaccinated on Saturday. Although she felt anxious about remembering to bring her mask and relevant documentation, the injection itself was “scarcely noticeable”.
Highfield said she waited outside her local hospital for about 25 minutes, which was “not brilliant”, but admired the staff for bringing out wheelchairs for those in need.
After her vaccine, she did not feel any side-effects, apart from tiredness. “I thought to myself I should just sit down, make a pot of tea and have something to eat and see how I go, and if this is it, if I’m going to get a bit tired, well, that’s fine.
“I hadn’t realised that I was feeling particularly anxious about it, but I got up on Sunday morning, and I felt a different person,” she said. “It just suddenly felt as though I’d entered the next phase of my life.”
‘I got myself very prepared’
Simon Radford, 62, also received his vaccine on Saturday. Previously working as a pharmacy assistant, he said he was “not expecting” to be called forward for a vaccination so soon: “I felt like I was one step closer to leaving the confines of my flat, where I seem to have been imprisoned for the majority of the last 10 months.”
Radford, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and epilepsy and is classified as overweight, walked to his local vaccination centre in Whitechapel, east London, as he feared using public transport. “I was very pleased to know there was a place I could walk to to get my injection,” he said.
“I got myself very prepared. I made sure that I was wrapped up, because it is such a long time since I’ve been out for any real distance. Physically, I was pleased to get back home as I had just walked nearly two miles – currently quite a distance as my exercise has suffered while shielding – in the pouring rain. I was soaked.”
Radford said despite having received the vaccine, he would continue to shield. “This sounds morbid, but I know if I end up in hospital with my COPD, I don’t think I will be coming out again.”
But he is looking forward to what the future holds. “I hope to be able to go out of my flat without using a mask or gloves, and to be able to approach my close friends for a hug,” he said. “Or simply to talk properly without worrying about getting the bug and ending up in hospital on a ventilator.”
‘It’s a glimmer of hope’
Millie Stone, a 24-year-old medical student in Bristol who works in a hospital, received her first vaccine dose on Friday.
“I’m really pleased to be part of the growing number of people who have been vaccinated,” she said. “On an individual basis, it’s made me feel less anxious about getting it and passing it on especially as young people are often asymptomatic.
“I’ve bubbled with my mum, and because I’m working in a hospital, I’m more comfortable knowing that it’s less likely I could pass it on to her. She’s been vaccinated as well, as she works in a GP surgery.”
For Stone, the vaccine provided a “glimmer of hope in this very difficult year”. “I felt excited going to get it, and I’ve never felt excited about a vaccine before,” she said. “There was definitely an energy at the vaccination centre, where people felt like we’re all part of a momentous thing. It’s nice to see palpable steps being taken. I think I’d feel very differently if we didn’t have a vaccine now.”
‘It’s going to change lives’
Both Lynn Hampson, 60, and her husband are semi-retired GPs, and were vaccinated in late December to allow them to work three days a week giving the coronavirus vaccine to others.
“There is such a positive feel at the vaccination centre,” said Hampson, who lives and works in Lancashire. “I’m talking to elderly people who are saying they haven’t been out since March or haven’t been able to see their children, but now they can see a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s quite a hard job – we’re there from 8am to 7pm – but the positivity from patients is really, really wonderful. It’s going to change their lives.”
Hampson said she feels “relieved” knowing that she can support others more safely, particularly as she and her sister are carers for their elderly parents, aged 91 and 93. Her mother has had the first dose, and they are hopeful that her father’s is imminent.
“My parents have been unable to see their grandchildren for a long time, and they’re both missing it,” she said. “They’re quite low and bored, and it’s hard to keep them buoyed. After the vaccine, they’ll be able to re-engage with life, and it will make such a huge difference to their mental health.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘A glimmer of hope’: four Britons share their Covid vaccine stories | Coronavirus