The Vaccination Process | Booking, Safety and First-hand experience

I’m back with a guide to the vaccination process! Thank you all for being so patient. Please check out the rest of my posts. The content is the same but hopefully, they are now easier to read and more useful information is provided. I have now added alt text and descriptions of images and videos properly. I apologise to my visually impaired readers for not doing this before. Please contact me if any part of this blog is inaccessible to you, whatever your need or disability.

I received my vaccination on 20/02/2021. While a big part of me is sick of talking about COVID-19 I hope it will help tackle any uncertainty or fear surrounding obtaining your vaccination. It is subjective, as was my post on my experience of the virus, so the opinions expressed are entirely my own and should not replace medical advice.

Booking your vaccination

Many people with disabilities have already had the vaccine as many of us are either in the extremely vulnerable category or category six. I’m category six as I have an underlying disability but have no health issues from that. In England the NHS booking service now says you can book if:

  • you are aged 50 or over
  • are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • work as an eligible frontline health or social care worker
  • your condition means you are clinically vulnerable
  • you have a learning disability
  • someone you care for is at high risk from coronavirus

Physical disabilities aren’t mentioned but don’t let this put you off. Clicking the booking service link above will take you to the NHS website, where you will be asked to enter your date of birth and your hospital number. The system then determines whether or not you are eligible. If you are eligible to book your vaccination you will be taken to a page where you can select a place, date and time to receive it. If you don’t know your hospital number, you will be asked to provide your basic information in order to continue.

Vaccine booking screen requesting hospital number

When trying to book my vaccine in this way the system told me I wasn’t eligible. So it’s worth trying as you won’t be booked in unless you meet the criteria. You’ve nothing to lose!Several people I know and people I don’t have got appointments this way before official invitations arrived. I also contacted my GP as I have to recruit carers/PA’s and felt at risk with the prospect of having an increased number of people in the house, without the protection of immunisation. Understanding my situation, my GP agreed I should be moved up the list but I still had a six-week wait. It is always worth asking!

Safely attending your vaccination appointment

Unless you are exempt from wearing one for medical reasons you must wear a mask when attending your appointment. It is understandable that you may feel nervous going out, especially if you’ve been shielding and this is your first outing in some time. Allow your self plenty of time to get to your appointment, the last thing you want to do is rush.

Think about how you will get to your appointment. Although bus services are still running many people, myself included, find them inaccessible. I’m lucky as my GP surgery is only a fifteen-minute walk/wheel from my house. The taxi firm,Uber, is offering a £15 discount on trips to or from major vaccination centres around the UK and their drivers follow COVID-19 safety measures. In some cities, they offer wheelchair accessible vehicles. Carry out a local internet search for transport services in your area which also may be able to help.

Getting vaccinated

On the morning of my vaccine appointment, I got up and dressed in loose clothing. The needle is inserted into the upper arm muscle of whichever arm you choose. Wearing a jumper with sleeves that would roll up high enough saved me from getting undressed at the doctor’s.

My Mom accompanied me as I need someone with me when needles are involved. This is because my startle reflex could cause my arm to move when the vaccine was being administered. Cerebral Palsy startle reflex means that I jump at loud noises or sudden sensations. Someone holding my arm still is just for safety.

Arriving for my vaccination

We planned on walking but as it was raining heavily my Dad took us in the car. I’m very lucky to have them available to assist me. When we got to the practice there was a big queue as someone had been taken ill earlier that day so COVID-19 vaccine patients were backed up. This prolonged the appointment to one hour and 40 minutes! I was hoping to be in/out within half an hour!

Having joined the queue outside Mom helped me put my mask on and we slowly inched towards the front. When we made it inside the tent staff were using to check people’s details I was told that as I’m a wheelchair user I could’ve gone straight inside and stayed warm. I am affected if I get too cold but only in that it can take a long time for me to get warm again. If you have difficulty queuing for whatever reason it’s worth asking if there are any adjustments that can be made for you.

I handed in the form with my details on and we were shown into the surgery and into one of the consulting rooms. The form asked for my name, address, date of birth and questions about how I’d been feeling the last ten days.

Receiving the vaccine

Once inside the consultation room, I was informed that I was going to receive the AstraZeneca variant. I was a bit disappointed. I’d hoped to receive the Pfizer vaccine instead as I’d heard it was more effective and had fewer side effects. There is no proof of this. Some days later a friend told me they had heard the Pfizer was the worst for side effects, guess things affect people differently.

I was asked which arm I wanted the vaccine in and I chose my left as I drive my chair with my right hand. The needle was in/out before I knew it and it didn’t feel any worse than a scratch. The nurse then told me that I may have flu-like symptoms and a sore arm which should last no more than a week. I was then told I could leave straight away and I didn’t have to wait for fifteen minutes. I’m not sure why but I was asked if I drove, (I don’t,) so maybe that is why I didn’t have to wait. We were in the room for approximately six minutes.

Vaccination card

I haven’t been given my second date yet. My GP practice will send me a link to book my appointment sometime in the middle of May.

Side effects

I had my vaccine at 11.10 am and didn’t start feeling ill till about 8 pm that evening. I then experienced a minor version of the joint pain I had when ill with the virus, together with shivering for a couple of days. The worst thing was the injection site became swollen and sore for roughly five days. I was thinking about ringing my doctor when suddenly the swelling went down.

Conclusion

Even though I was uncomfortable these side effects were nothing compared to being ill with COVID-19. Many people experience far fewer symptoms than me. I would encourage anyone and everyone to get vaccinated. The symptoms far outweigh the benefits both to myself and to society. My only caution. Check with your doctor if you have any allergies, are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a compromised immune system. These circumstances may affect when you can be vaccinated and which variant you are given as there are different ingredients in each.

I hope this post is reassuring. If you would like to ask me anything about the above, please do. My next post will be a review of the recent Naidex virtual event.

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