by Rashad Carre
A few weeks ago, I received a text message. It was from NHS Vacc Book, with the beginning of the message reading Dear Mr. CARR. Seeing the NHS logo, I thought it was a reminder to have my blood tested. Having HIV, I get this twice a year, so I nonchalantly opened it. Well, to my surprise it was a message for me to book my first Covid 19 vaccination. I was surprised, because when I last checked I was only due for that in a few months.
The message was very clear, telling me where I needed to go and giving me two links; one for a leaflet explaining what it’s all about, and the other to book the appointment. I was expecting something complicated when booking, but the link took me straight to available dates and time slots. Not being a morning person, I jumped at the first available one, which happened to be at 16:40 – 16:50, for the following week. Clicked, done, and that was it.
It was going to be an outing, and adventure, something to break the monotony and presumably in a safe environment. Even so, I decided I would wear two masks and bring some writing material. After all I was sure there were going to be a lot of people and probably those with health conditions. The vaccine centre was only a half hour walk, and it was a sunny afternoon. I had never been to the racecourse so when I arrived, I wasn’t sure where the entrance was. However, there were plenty of stewards all over the place, helpful and friendly, and I soon found the foyer.
Inside it was practically empty, except for more stewards and nurses. They sanitised my hands, asked me about my health, handed me a piece of paper, and I was ushered to a desk. It was amazing, everyone was happy to see me, with a smile in their eyes. I couldn’t see their mouths as everyone was wearing a mask. I had to take a picture for posterity and so held out my arms to hold my phone. The nurse told me I’d have a sore arm as it was not relaxed, but that didn’t worry me; in the needle went, and I didn’t feel a thing, not even as the plunger pushed the serum into my veins. I put my jumper and coat back on and I was out. The whole thing was so quick and efficient I was almost disappointed as I wanted it to be an outing, to stay and chat.
Well, I did get a sore arm the next day, but it only felt like a small bruise. I didn’t have any of the side effects they warned in the leaflet, but there is one thing I learned. This isn’t a vaccine like others I’ve had as a child. It protects you from severe illness, but you can still catch the virus and pass it on. So, masks and social distancing is still de rigueur.