RogerBW's Blog

More pokey pokey 26 March 2021

Officially last week it was still only possible to book a vaccination if you were over 55. When I'd tried it the week before (giving NHS number and birth date) I was quite properly told to come back later. But…

I had a look last Tuesday and got to the next page, which was "you've missed your first appointment, you'll need to re-book both". (Apparently this is a "known problem". Hmm.) My wife, working on a different machine, didn't get the "missed appointment" page and was able to book me a slot for 3pm yesterday. It seems that the age limit on the front page is a national one, and individual NHS areas are able to proceed faster if they've got through enough of the higher-priority people (which is basically everywhere except London), so it may be worth putting in your NHS number and date of birth even if you're not currently eligible at a national level.

(Then the next day they lowered the national level to include me anyway.)

So I went along, to what in normal times is a small retail pharmacy. (Although the booking email says "you must bring your booking number", the list they get given at the site is indexed by name and apparently that's all they check…)

I had planned to ask them not to tell me which vaccine it was, because I wanted to decide what level of side-effects I was experiencing without being biased by that information. But they were in such a rush that they'd told me (Oxford-AstraZeneca) before I'd even had a chance to ask. The lady who did the intramuscular injection (pretty competent, I say as an ex-professional; the trick is to move the needle fast but to let its own momentum carry it through the skin rather than pushing, in effect throwing it at the site) told me as I came in that once I was done with she was about to declare an emergency so that she could have a break.

No sticker, no lollipop, not even a pad over the injection site, first time that's been missed out in my experience. Not that it was bleeding anyway. I have quite tough and elastic skin and she was good at her job.

Then she was very surprised that, as I got up, I said "I suppose you'd like me to go out a different way" rather than just wandering aimlessly back towards the main body of the shop and being redirected by the chap who was waiting there. No suggestion that I might like to sit around until I knew I wasn't going to fall over, or anything like that.

Anyway, no side-effects at all 18 hours later, and I can't work out where the site was by sight or touch. Everyone who has a vaccination horror story seems to be determined to tell it, and of course those all get boosted by a variety of interests, so here's mine.

See also:
The SARS-CoV-2 jab malarky

  1. Posted by J Michael Cule at 12:46pm on 26 March 2021

    I rang up my doctors earlier in the week to check if I should have had my appointment for my second jab by now. They had a 'go away and don't bother us: we'll call you' message on the answer machine (just for jabs not anything else) so I hung up.

    Yesterday, the news on the BBC was 'If you haven't booked your second appointment do it now, now, now before they all dry up.' So I rang up again and asked after a grovelling apology for bothering them despite the clear warning on their answer machine if there was something I was supposed to have done. My first jab had been back in February and I don't think they even had a website set up by then. They just said I'd be called.

    Well the receptionist (a nice lady who recognises my dulcet tones) didn't know anything but she must have passed the message on to the right person because within 20 minutes I had not only a phone call but also a text which allowed me to get on the website and book for next Tuesday afternoon.

    Which is all fine and dandy but I worry about those who are less alert or determined (gosh, the thought that there are people even less determined than me!) and also wonder why there was talk of bookings drying up.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:04pm on 26 March 2021

    So a mere six and a half weeks from initial dose to booster. Hey ho, let's experiment on the population, that never goes wrong.

    You're the only person whom I know got it via their GP rather than by website booking, which sets both appointments at once (my second is for 10 June, 11 weeks from yesterday); that may account for the differences.

  3. Posted by Dr Bob at 03:55pm on 26 March 2021

    I got mine thru a GP too. Not my own, but the one up the road. The two practices seem to be combining their efforts.

    I could only book the first dose. They asked when I had it if I would be okay to get the invitation to the second by email, and checked my email address was correct.

    I've never had a pad on the injection site for a flu jab, nor for this. They just wipe it with cotton wool and send you on your way for the flu...

  4. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 07:50pm on 26 March 2021

    Ditto here as regards the absence of pad or plaster, it's just "ask all the usual allergy questions, roll sleeve up, bang it in, then blot with cotton wool and I either have to wait (if they're being cautious) or just scoot out of there (if not).

    No apparent side effects from either the flu or the COVID19 (AZ version) vaccine.

    Flu one was at the local pharmacy (cautious and slow), COVID at Milllennnium Point (very fast and efficient (St Johns Ambulance giving the shot), and I walked straight out as I don't drive).

    Second shot in early May, and I'm looking forward to resuming (cautious) human contact in June.

    (I plan to continue working from home and wearing a mask outside it - the difference has been amazing: no winter sniffles (or anything else) all year.)

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 08:53pm on 26 March 2021

    Second shot's in June for me. I think I will probably keep on masking at conventions and such like indoor events, especially with nasty dry air conditioning.

  6. Posted by John P at 09:44pm on 26 March 2021

    My mother (group 2) got summoned by her GP for the first jab and was told they would contact her in April for the second. My wife (group 6) got a text and was able to book her first jab online but not the second. I'm in group 8 and just got a letter from the NHS that let me book both online. Very consistent. Not.

    The wife got hers at the local walk-in centre but I had to go to the big centre at Manchester Sportcity for mine on Wednesday. It was well organised, and fast - few questions, go to a pod, jab, thumb over the spot for 10 seconds and done. I have an allergy so they made we wait 15 mins after just to be sure. Only side effect was feeling a bit sluggish the next day - like when the worst effects of a hangover have passed.

    Made me laugh though. They asked "Do you consent to be vaccinated?" - duh, hell yes, why else would I be here?

  7. Posted by RogerBW at 10:46pm on 26 March 2021

    Michael had a similar thing – apparently some people do turn round and leave at the last moment. They didn't explicitly ask for my consent; perhaps the enthusiasm radiating off me was sufficiently obvious.

  8. Posted by Nicola Zealey at 09:09am on 27 March 2021

    "So a mere six and a half weeks from initial dose to booster. Hey ho, let's experiment on the population, that never goes wrong." Around the world, tens of millions have been injected with two AZ jabs between four and six weeks apart. The indications are now very strong four weeks is not enough for the body to build up maximum immunity from the first dose. Six weeks is better than four and very much better than three. An expert panel of the World Health Organization has suggested an 8 to 12 week interval between two doses of the AZ vaccine would be even better. Personally, I'd prefer not to wait that long! The only groups who might benefit from a short interval between jabs are those with a severely comprised immune systems. Unless you have a severely comprised immune system, there is little reason to worry about what seems to be a long wait between jabs. The wait is giving your immune system more time to react.

    "Second shot's in June for me. I think I will probably keep on masking at conventions and such like indoor events, especially with nasty dry air conditioning." Very wise.

  9. Posted by Nicola Zealey at 04:03pm on 27 March 2021

    I don't believe in well organised conspiracies but I do believe money talks. AZ is selling the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis and will end up making a loss. Moderna and Pfizer are going to make a massively huge profits from their vaccines. Maybe all the confusion and scare stories are innocent and understandable in unprecedented times. Or just maybe it is big Pharma's long-term interests for AZ to fail. If AZ succeeds, it could set a dangerous precedent which big Pharma will not approve of.

  10. Posted by Owen Smith at 07:03pm on 27 March 2021

    All four family members were contacted by GP, three different practices. None of us had the option to book the second appointment at the same time. My 82 year old dad has just had his second Astra Zeneca, 10 weeks after the first. I agree the data for AZ currently shows a longer interval is better. There is less data on a longer interval for Pfizer, I've not seen any.

  11. Posted by Nicola Zealey at 09:27am on 28 March 2021

    I might have been influenced by the misinformation campaign but it does seem the Pfizer invokes a faster stronger build-up of the immune system. The manufacturer's recommended interval is different between AZ and is only three weeks. But IMHO (and this is only an opinion) there is no reason to suppose the immune reaction for Pfizer builds up for three weeks and then suddenly vanishes. What evidence there is for the top vaccines is a slow trailing off after a buildup lasting weeks. That is how immune systems work.

    I'm getting vaccinated today! If they give me the Pfizer vaccine I'd have NO concerns at all if the interval for the second dose is six weeks. I will admit I would be very slightly concerned if it was eight weeks but (as far as I am aware) there is no evidence my concern would be justified.

  12. Posted by RogerBW at 11:04am on 28 March 2021


    I'm already thinking about boardgames for late June/early July.

    V + 67 hours: there's a very slight reddening at the injection site which wasn't visible last night.

  13. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:18pm on 28 March 2021

    I was never able to find my injection site, not even as soon as I got home. And I didn't feel a thing when the vaccination was done, I even asked if she'd done it.

  14. Posted by Nicola Zealey at 08:00am on 30 March 2021

    Steve and I had the AZ jab. I've, also, slight reddening at the injection site and, in addition, three tiny red spots. I had a much worse reaction to the flu jab which knocked me sideways for a couple of days.

    Steve and I are looking forward to playing board games in a group but are going to wait until after the second jab. Annoyingly they've changed the goal posts again. There is now a 11-12 week wait between jabs which I think is too long.
    We will have to wait until June. :(

  15. Posted by Chris Bell at 09:54am on 30 March 2021

    When I booked mine in February the machine offered me my second appointment eleven weeks to the day after the first one, so perhaps the goalposts are back to where they were?

  16. Posted by RogerBW at 11:12am on 30 March 2021

    10-12 weeks is what came out of the trials as the right option for AZ and a decent option overall, and everyone I know who booked through the web site was able to book a second appointment at that interval. People who went through their GPs seem to be all over the place. (I don't know how Nicola booked.)

  17. Posted by Nicola Zealey at 08:15am on 01 April 2021

    My bad. My Mum's care home vaccinated (with AZ) the staff and residents in January and mostly completed around 6 weeks later. I thought this was standard. I checked with Steve and he said that it isn't and between 10-12 weeks is much more usual. The gap between doses for his Mum was around this longer period. The jabs at my Mum's care home were organised directly by the GP practice.

    Incidentally, I heard that two members of staff of the care home refused to have the jab - which is slightly concerning.

  18. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:54am on 02 April 2021

    Care home staff who refuse the jab should immediately resign. Continuing to work in a care home with vulnerable people after refusing a free vaccination for something that could kill the people they care for is completely unethical.

  19. Posted by Chris at 11:44am on 02 April 2021

    Not sure about resign, but if someone were found to be tubercular I don't suppose they'd continue in employment with vulnerable people, any more than the member of our school's kitchen staff who was found to be when I was nine went on being employed to make our food. The entire school had BCG tests within a week of her condition being discovered, and she stopped working there.

    So someone who may be carrying a pandemic disease and declines to act to prevent this ought not to be employed caring for people at risk from that disease whether he or she resigns or not.

  20. Posted by Owen Smith at 06:36pm on 02 April 2021

    I believe the legal grounds for dismissing someone for refusing to take a vaccine are very difficult in the UK. It's not as if they're known to be infected. But ethically they should resign. How can they sleep at night knowing their refusing to be vaccinated might kill the people in their care?

    I expect a court case about the legality of contracts for new jobs requiring covid vaccination, which have started to appear eg. Pimlico Plumbers.

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