By Rebecca Hannant

The last year has been no stranger to adversity. Perhaps it will go on to be one of the worst years in our lives. Job losses, the ever-rising death toll, and the loss of face-to-face education have damaged our lives beyond what we imagined in 2019. Combining these things with limited social interactions and mental health problems, the virus has had a significant effect on all our lives for the past year, and perhaps for years to come. One thing is for sure: this year will go down in history as one of the worst years on record.

Without taking sides and becoming overtly political, the response to the pandemic has been, well, confusing…. to say the least, with the rules being changed left, right and centre, trouble with furlough schemes, and rising unemployment figures. Given the government’s response to this crisis, it is no surprise that when the first vaccine was approved and rolled out, it worried us. I mean, how can they come up with a vaccine so quickly? How can they be so sure it works in just a matter of months? What is in it? Does it work? To answer that final question: yes, it does. I put its amazing success down to the miracles of science.

I’ve remained open about the idea of a vaccine, but other people haven’t for many reasons. Perhaps due to fearmongering, news reports, or being scared of needles. Whatever the reason, I am here to talk about my experience of getting the vaccine, and how it is absolutely nothing to fear. In fact, it is completely safe.

It all started in March, when I received a text out of the blue from the NHS, asking me to book an appointment for my vaccine. Naturally, I was sceptical; as a 24-year-old, I wasn’t expecting to get the vaccination for a good, few months. I’ve heard about the scams going around, so I did some heavy research, but it came back true – I was offered one. To book an appointment, all I had to do was click a link, which would allow me to book a location for the vaccination.

When I looked at the list of available centres, I was slightly amused. There were no doctor surgeries or hospitals. Instead, I was presented with stadiums, city halls and leisure centres. In fact, these were all places that had no instant connections with anything remotely medical. Since vaccination centres are popping up all over the UK, there is no suggestion where anyone will receive their vaccination. The chosen location for my vaccination was a little unusual – it took place at the KCOM Stadium.

On the day of the vaccination, I walked to the stadium, where I was guided to the entrance. Once I reached the doors, I walked inside to find a perfectly organised one-way setup, with ropes and stickers guiding the way. As I was ushered around the room, whilst conforming to a 2 metre-social distancing rule, I eventually reached a table where I was asked for my name. I was then directed to a room on the other side of the venue.

Once I reached the room in question, I was asked to sit down by a kind and friendly nurse, who assured me that the vaccine was perfectly safe. They then asked me which arm I would like the vaccine to be injected into. I told them my left, and they agreed. As someone who normally becomes slightly nervous about injections, I became quite tense. I saw the needle and went into a happy place. Whilst it was being administered, I felt a sharpish, small pain in my arm for a few seconds. Then, it stopped.

Just like that, the vaccination was done. What a relief! The nurse told me that was it and handed me a leaflet, and a card with my information on it. I was made aware of a list of side effects, which included nausea, tiredness, and headaches, that might have occurred over the next few days. None of which occurred, thankfully.

One thing I will say about the vaccine is that I am so thankful I got to receive it, despite facing much scepticism from different people. Like many, I have been impacted by the pandemic, from losing valuable teaching time, to losing a job and members of my family. Given this rollout has been majorly successful, I hope that it won’t be long before it will get us out of this dystopian nightmare. However, in order to do this, more people must take up their offer of the vaccine, so we can continue to keep people safe. I must stress how important it is to get the vaccine.


Cover Image Credit: Tom Parker