Despite having mixed feelings about it, I had mine a few weeks ago; have you had yours yet?
I didn’t worry that the test and trial process had been rushed, (it wasn’t), nor Bill Gates’ ability to track me afterwards (he can’t). I just wondered did I really need to have mine earlier than much older people? Surely, others were more deserving of the shot than a man my age in such robust good health? Listening to the radio, I’d heard a worried daughter describe how her poor old Dad aged almost 90 hadn’t had his yet, although she was reassured it was imminent.
In the weeks before mine, I had reminded my local surgery that because of my job, I should be on their early list. Clearly, that didn’t overly concern them as I’m still waiting to hear back. Other healthcare workers told me they were also waiting, and then I heard that fit young Island police officers were getting them, but only if there were any leftovers. I remained conflicted until a (mainland-based) family member from home for the past year, who works as an NHS clerical officer, told me she’d had hers. My nursing sister, Liz, managed to get Covid last year and the vaccine early this year; thankfully, the virus didn’t affect her too badly. Still not convinced about my own need to jump the queue, I discovered all sorts of NHS contractors were getting it, as were some ferry and council staff. A magistrate pal told me they were being jabbed early too. To be clear I’m not complaining, I think all key workers dealing with the public face to face should be a priority, including bus drivers and retail staff.
Since last January, when the numbers of people dying began to rise sharply, alongside my mostly younger funeral director colleagues, I’ve been dealing with the dead, their families and those who cared for them in their final days. We’ve been repeatedly exposed to the virus while visiting hospitals, care homes and private houses, yet none of us developed any symptoms. We’ve had numerous tests along the way; all returned clear. As one workmate said, ‘We’ve got away with it for a year; why worry now?’ Sensibly, he relented and joined the rest of us in having an early vaccine.
The actual vaccination was a surreal experience. One afternoon we went to Basingstoke Hospital and, after a few simple questions, I found myself sitting in a cubicle with a lovely Irish nurse who soon put me at ease. A quick flash of her syringe and in seconds it was all over. ‘Go and sit over there for fifteen minutes,’ she said with a cheery smile. I thanked her and asked what she would have been doing if not helping out with vaccinations. She told me that she usually worked with cancer patients – sobering stuff. When my time was up, I joined my colleague outside, and we drove back to work.
Right up until the last moment, I would have gladly swapped my privileged place with anyone I thought more vulnerable, because I’d come to feel slightly invincible, even if that faith is misplaced. On the journey back, I asked my colleague how she felt, and she said, ‘a little safer,’ even if we are not quite safe yet.
Most of us have spent a year fearing the virus could kill us, or those we love; the fantastic vaccine programme makes that far less likely. When you get the call, go as soon as you can.