No pain, no gain: Reflections on getting the Covid vaccination

The vaccination centre is in a church hall, in a village three or four miles from Platypus Towers. I didn’t know the building even existed until the start of last week when I got the letter inviting me to log on to the internet to book my jab, but I’m pleased to make its acquaintance. Community venues are essential if vaccinations are to be rolled out in line with the government’s ambitious target, and although the place is modest and a little down-at-heel it’s more than adequate.

The operation is well organised by the NHS, with plenty of staff on hand to do what needs to be done, checking my temperature and personal details, giving guidance and reassurance, ushering me here and there as necessary, and finally administering the injection with cheerful good humour. Within 15 minutes I’m back outside in the fresh air, clutching an information leaflet advising on possible side effects of the vaccination.

PHOTO CREDIT: CDC via Unsplash

So far, so good. For the next few hours I get no reaction at all and almost forget that I’ve just had the jab. But by mid-evening I begin to feel feverish. Within an hour it seems like I have a bad dose of flu. My limbs ache and I’m shivering violently, and I’m so cold that I resort to putting on an outdoor fleece over my indoor clothes, with a hot water bottle tucked inside. I even wear my woolly hat while watching television, which Mrs P finds hilarious.

Finally I’ve had enough and stumble upstairs, collapsing into bed clutching the hot water bottle and still wearing my fleece and woolly hat. I’ve had worse nights, but not often. However by the next morning I’m feeling much better, and definitely a lot warmer. I can only assume that my reaction to the vaccine is proof positive that it’s doing what it’s meant to do, priming my immune system to fight off any Covid viruses that I might encounter in the future

* * *

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the side effects of the jab. It’s a small price to pay for the Covid protection that it will give me in the future. As the saying goes, no pain no gain.

And for god’s sake, we need to understand that things could be so much worse. It’s only around a year since Covid started making its presence felt in the UK, and yet already effective vaccines have been developed and more than 18 million Brits have received their first dose. That is truly extraordinary, and in the midst of all the doom and gloom that surrounds the pandemic we should recognise that if this virus had emerged, say, half a century ago, our ability to deal with it would have been so much less.

While I don’t for one moment wish to minimise the suffering and hardship the virus has caused – I too have lost a family member to this disease, and friends have also lost loved ones – I’m relieved that it’s hit now and not when I was a kid. Today scientists are better able to find ways of containing, if not eliminating, coronavirus, and doctors have more treatment options to help those who have already been infected by it. Meanwhile, internet and communications technology allows many of us to avoid contact with Covid altogether by working remotely, ordering stuff online to be safely delivered to our front doors, and staying in touch virtually with friends and family.

I also recognise that I’m privileged, a comfortably well-off citizen of a wealthy, sophisticated nation. The other morning the BBC radio news made the point that around 135 nations have yet to administer a single dose of coronavirus vaccine. Realistically, governments are going to look after their own citizens first – that’s what governments do – but having done that they have the chance to do a good thing, to do the right thing by ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has access to the vaccine, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion, wealth or personal circumstances.

Even better, rich governments like ours could undertake such action as an absolute good, on the basis of an overriding moral imperative and without regard to any potential strategic advantage or economic benefit. I’m probably being a bit naïve here, but a man can dream!

Working together we can put Covid back in its box and maybe, in the process, start to build a better world. Now wouldn’t that be something, one truly positive outcome to emerge from the recent annus horribilis that has taken so many lives, and ruined so many more.

* * *

Postscript: Mrs P had to wait another four weeks for her first jab. Other than a bit of a sore arm she suffered absolutely no side effects at all. Huh!

27 comments

  1. Laurie Graves · February 24

    Lot’s of great points in this post! Yes, it is amazing to have a vaccine available so fast, and technology has made the pandemic ever so much more bearable. Sorry to read you had a reaction to the vaccine. Glad it didn’t last long.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · February 24

      Thank you. The way mankind has dealt with the pandemic will be spoken about and picked over by academics for a generation; we have been present at a pivotal moment in the history of the 21st century. So many lessons to learn from this!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Mike Powell · February 24

    Congratulations on getting the vaccination. I agree with your points about how technological advancements helped help to soften somewhat the effects of the prolonged isolation. I also share the recognition you expressed about being in a privileged position, compared to most people in the world. Occasionally I suffer from a kind of “survivor’s guilt” when I see the suffering that others are going through. Things are still a bit chaotic in the US regarding vaccinations, but I think we are making progress and I am patiently waiting for my turn to come. Stay safe and healthy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · February 24

      The logistical challenge of organising a nationwide vaccination programme across the US is frightening, but if the Perseverance expedition to Mars is anything to go by there’s nothing you guys can’t manage when you put your minds to it! I hope you don’t have to wait too much longer for your vaccination, but meanwhile take car and stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mike Powell · February 24

        Thanks. I anticipate it will be a month or so before I get a vaccination. It is projected that we will still be under considerable restrictions during this spring, but things may loosen up a little during the summer.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Platypus Man · February 24

        Our Prime Minister has published a “roadmap”, a programme which will see restrictions lifted in stages over the next four months. If the infection rate doesn’t take off again he proposes that most restrictions will be gone by 21 June, although the vaccination won’t have been rolled out to all adults until a few weeks later. A “new normal” is therefore on the horizon!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann Mackay · February 24

    I’m glad you got your vaccination. We’re looking forward to the time when we get ours and we realise how truly lucky we are to be going through this at a time when it’s possible to come up with a vaccine so quickly. Hope everyone everywhere gets vaccinated, but I imagine it will take a long time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · February 24

      Hopefully you won’t have to wait too much longer! The way this mass vaccination exercise is being run is extraordinary: it would be really easy to mess this up, but the NHS is doing a brilliant job!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ann Mackay · February 24

        It’s really impressive – everyone at the vaccination centre must be working very hard – and where they’re manufacturing the vaccines too. I hope that when this all settles down, the NHS staff get some chance to recuperate – they’ve worked so hard and in such stressful circumstances for a long time.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Platypus Man · February 26

        Yes, they’ve definitely earned it, and deserve a decent pay rise too!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ann Mackay · February 27

        Agreed!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Yeah, Another Blogger · February 24

    The vaccine rollout in the States is being handled by each individual state. So far, my state (Pennsylvania) is doing a terrible job. Lots of disorganization.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · February 24

      I guess a national rollout is unrealistic in a country as big as the US, but I also guess that States vary enormously in their levels of (in)competence. Maybe Pennsylvania will get better with practice? Hope you don’t have to wait too long.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. ladylapoet · February 24

    glad you’re feeling better. i probably wont get it until later in the year

    Liked by 2 people

  6. tanjabrittonwriter · February 24

    I’m glad you received your vaccine, Mr. P, and hope you have recovered fully. May it and the next dose protect you from illness. Sorry to hear about the death of your family member. I hope your vision for the future will come true.
    Best wishes,
    Tanja

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · February 26

      Thank you, Tanja. Mrs P should have her first dose by early April, and the UK’s target is for all adults to have at least one dose by the end of July. The vaccine rollout certainly gives grounds for cautious optimism, but plainly life will never be quite the same again.

      Liked by 2 people

      • tanjabrittonwriter · February 27

        I agree, Mr. P, it’s hard to imagine that anything will ever be quite the same again. But maybe we will be proven wrong.
        All the best to you and Mrs P,
        Tanja

        Liked by 2 people

  7. The June Journal · February 26

    Congratulations for getting the vaccine! I got my 2nd shot last Friday. My arm hurt after the 1st shot, and I felt fatigue and chill for a few hours after 2nd one. But as you said, “It’s a small price to pay for the Covid protection”. I am very happy to have vaccine shots. We still need be careful because of the mutations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · March 2

      Both vaccines already…that’s really good news. And having had the jab(s) definitely makes it less stressful when out and about in company, although as you say, mutations are a problem. We’re expecting that booster jabs will be needed later in the year, and I’ll welcome them for the extra protection they’ll offer. The scientists and medics are doing a brilliant job, aren’t they!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. krikitarts · February 28

    What a nightmare adventure this is. I was appalled to read of your side effects but relieved to see that it turned out well after all. We went back up to Level 3 in Auckland this morning, but only for a projected 7 day. We shall see. Although vaccinations for at-risk persons have started, regular folks are not expected to get them until later in the year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · February 28

      All’s well that ends well, as dear old Shakespeare once told us. When I wrote this post I was conscious that my account of the side-effects might put people off being vaccinated, but I hope that’s not the case. It definitely wasn’t great for 12 hours, but it sure is better than getting very ill – maybe even dying – from the virus itself. Sorry to hear that Auckland’s level has been raised, but seen from the other side of the world NZ has done an amazing job in containing Covid. We Brits could learn a lot from you guys … don’t suppose we’ll listen though! Hope you don’t have to wait to much longer for your jab.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jet Eliot · February 28

    What a refreshingly sane and gracious post, thank you Platypus Man. I appreciate your courage on getting the vaccine and living through the side effects, also liked hearing what you went through. Your attitude and insight on the coronavirus are wonderful, and I agree with you 100%. In the US, there’s still chaos and not enough vaccines distributed, but with the new president we have more order and lots of hope and many of us, myself included, are waiting our turn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · March 1

      Hi Jet. Thank you for your kind and generous comment. I can safely say that in all of my (nearly) 65 years on this planet no one has ever described me (or anything I’ve said or written) as gracious, so I’m feeling rather pleased with myself as I write this. Oh dear, does that make me appear rather ungracious?!
      There’s been plenty of chaos around Covid here in the UK too, with the national government seemingly more interested in not upsetting people than in making difficult decisions. But to be fair, it’s much easier to heckle from the side-lines than to have responsibility for making those decisions, particularly in a fast-moving environment in which everyone has had to learn very quickly. And to their credit, they’ve done a superb job in procuring and rolling out the vaccine. Since I wrote the post just 5 days ago, a further 2 million people have been vaccinated, which is a truly achievement.
      Regarding the situation in the US, things must surely improve now you have a new, rational incumbent at the White House. Having said that, another of my US correspondents suggested that the vaccine roll-out will also be heavily impacted by the degree of (in)competence of each State’s administration, which makes it sound like a bit of a lottery. Hopefully California will get its act together and you’ll get your jab before much longer.
      Thank you again for dropping by and taking the time to comment on my humble blog!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. blhphotoblog · March 3

    I had pretty much the same reaction Mr P, this was with the Oxford jab. Mrs H (who works in ad-min at a GP surgery) got the pfiser (?) and no reaction!
    Anyway once a week I’m at the local centre meeting people at the door and checking that a. they have a booking (you’d be surprised) b. they have no symptoms, and c. they are wearing masks and sanatising hands. I’ll be glad when this is under control and life can return.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · March 3

      Interesting…everyone I know about who had the Pfizer jab got away with pretty much no reaction, while everyone who had the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine (including me) had side-effects. Whatever, better to have side-effects from the vaccine than getting Covid itself. Hopefully, by early summer, some sort of normality will return. It really can’t come soon enough!

      Liked by 1 person

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