RogerBW's Blog

The SARS-CoV-2 jab malarky 01 March 2021

(Guest post from Chris.)

The Covid19 vaccine: it's a big deal, right? Right. But the actual vaccination, it turns out, isn't. Perhaps my experience will give anyone anxious about it a reason to worry rather less. If you have had a flu jab, it's very similar.

(Well, apart from the year they got the flu vaccine a little wrong and everyone I know who'd had it also had nasty arm-pain for several days, but that was some years ago and I suspect they've taken steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.)

It was on a Monday morning that the NHS letter came. It suggested that I could wait for my GP's surgery to get in touch, or I could go to the NHS vaccination website and book in to a local centre. Naturally I had a look on line, and the first appointments at a pharmacy less than five miles away were on that Thursday, the 18th. Not holding much with mornings, I booked for a nice civilised 13:25 that day, and was told I could also book for the second jab eleven weeks later, which I duly did for the same time on the same day of the week; mysteriously, in spite of my booking having been accepted I got an email shortly afterwards to tell me the 13:25 slot was not free in May, and had to go back to the website and through the whole process again to book for 13:20 instead.

My GP's surgery were surprised but grateful that I rang up and told them once the appointment had been confirmed, so that they could take my name off their 'to-do' list and didn't have to waste time and money contacting me. Since the chances are that it will be several days before communication from Vaccine Central reaches the GP, I feel that telling them if you've booked on line might help avoid Confusion.

That Thursday morning, someone who knew I had the appointment that afternoon took it upon herself to share, where I was sure to see it, what a horrible experience she'd had with the jab and how ill it had made her feel. Suppressing a strong urge to throttle her and musing on The Princess and the Pea, I tried not to let this make me feel nervous about the afternoon and its possible aftermath, but it certainly didn't help. Note for anyone who had a bad experience: the time to pass this information on to people is the week after their jab, not the morning before. In case you didn't know, the HCPs they will see are able to give the advice about drinking water and taking paracetamol (not ibuprofen) to alleviate any symptoms, so you really don't have to. There is helpful, and then there is needlessly alarmist; the pharmacy staff were helpful.

It is worth going to the appointment in a top you can take off easily, over something with short sleeves, because taking a jumper off when you are wearing a facemask is a faff at best. I dug out a denim shirt with poppers down the front to make it easier still for myself, because I'm an idle fussock. I also took a book with me in case it was needed – it wasn't.

On the day, I turned up early in case there was a queue, and at 13:10 the door was opened to me by a splendid volunteer wearing a perspex visor; she explained when I asked if those were as effective as a mask that it was for the benefit of anyone hearing-impaired. I was asked to sanitise my hands, then shown to a chair, in which I had been sitting for perhaps forty seconds before she re-appeared to show me through to the surgery.

The pharmacist told me that I would be having the AstraZeneca vaccine, then asked me various questions about my health, my allergies and my medications; I'd taken a list of those with me in case it was needed, and when told I take warfarin he asked what dose, and what range my INR was generally in. I had my booklet with me too, so that was easy to answer, and he then said I'd need to hold a pad firmly on the inoculation site for two minutes to prevent any bleeding. And then he jabbed me, so swiftly and gently that I had hardly had time to realise it was being done before it was over and my thumb had been guided to the sterile pad I was to hold hard for a short time. It was at this point that I asked about possible after-effects, and was told that if I had a bad reaction, the worst of which is usually dizziness and possibly nausea, I should stay in bed for a few hours, drink plenty of water and, if I needed to, take paracetamol. I was also told that the chances were I'd only have a reaction if I'd already had the disease, which I didn't know. I've no idea how accurate that last bit of information is, to be fair.

And then I was given a chair to sit in for a couple of minutes in the fresh air from the door, and told I could go as soon as I felt OK, which I did.

Twenty-four hours later there was no sign of the injection site: I couldn't locate it either by sight or by touch. My temperature that morning had been normal-for-me, and I had no symptoms at all. This has continued to be the case. Roll on the second jab, in early May.

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More pokey pokey

  1. Posted by John Dallman at 11:04am on 01 March 2021

    Thanks, that all sounds decently organised and un-traumatic. My mother had much the same experience with the Pfizer vaccine, and is booked in for her second dose this week.

  2. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 11:48am on 01 March 2021

    Very similar experience here, no allergies, Rivaroxaban instead of Warfarin (which apparently doesn't require any special precautions with a pad), and I didn't even notice the jab. The supposed "15 minute observation period" I was expecting was waived when I said I used public transport, and off I went.

    No after-effects at all, that I could detect. Likewise looking forward to the booster in May.


  3. Posted by Dr Bob at 07:42pm on 01 March 2021

    Similar experience, but for Pfizer and at a GP surgery (not my own, but the one I used to go to, which was 20 mins walk away). I had a mildly painful arm that evening, but no worse than a bruise.

    They said to drink lots of water, but didn't mention paracetamol to me.

    I'm pretty sure that if you get the fever response it is your immune system going "Hey, I recognise that! Awwoogah! Awwoogah!" and dialling up to 11.

  4. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:05pm on 01 March 2021

    I had the Pfizer last Thursday at Milton Community Centre. I wore a T-shirt under my coat, and they thanked me for making it easy. Face masks for all volunteers there, no idea what happens for the hard of hearing. Hand sanitiser on the way in. Long queue but with 9 booths it moved quickly. I too had the experience of the jab being done so quickly and painlessly I didn't even notice it. I swear the needles they use these days must have got thinner over the years, I remember travel vaccinations a decade or two ago hurting. I wasn't told anything about drinking water or paracetamol, the leaflet just says to take painkillers if necessary.

    When they jabbed me they started a 15 minute digital kitchen timer. I then had to take that and find an empty plastic chair, this is all in the sports hall so plenty of space. I sat there and waited, and when the timer went off put my hand up and a volunteer came over to ask if I felt OK. When I did, they picked up the timer and sanitised it and the chair while I made my way to the exit which was the fire escape. More hand sanitiser on the way out with another volunteer encouraging me to use it.

    I don't know why some people seem scared of this. The needle is painless, the Queen also said she didn't feel a thing. I've had no side effects at all so far. I've also seen claims that side effects are generally in people who have had covid, but that wouldn't put me off having the vaccine. This vaccine is potentially the difference between life and death, or long term ill health with long covid, so what would a week or two of side effects matter in comparison? (I might even lose a bit of weight if ill with side effects...)

    My issue is the GP service texting a URL to my dumb phone, which I then had to carefully type into a browser. My GP has my email address, so why are they texting URLs? Why does anyone text URLs? My BT landline phone can receive texts (properly, not as text to speech) but it can't browse the web either. URLs should not go in text messages!

  5. Posted by Phil Masters at 05:58pm on 09 March 2021

    Very similar experience here at the Cambridge Grafton Centre facility. All very smooth, and they didn't even bother with the 15-minute rest time afterwards. I had the Astra-Zeneca vaccine too.

    All I had afterwards was a very slight ache in the injection site for a day or so, but nothing I'd even think about if it happened at random. Angela, on the other hand, had the day's worth of unpleasant feverishness, starting the evening after the jab -- but she's a bit prone to reacting strongly to stuff (though not flu jabs). I very much doubt that she's had the actual virus, especially if I haven't, so I think it's just random immune system weirdness. After all, the virus itself seems to have a wide range of different effects on different people.

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