Hi I’m Stephie; I have four chronic health conditions and work in the community as an adult support worker – so being safe and protected has been a huge thing for me and my family. I’m however not medicated so I wasn’t required to shield as per government guidelines; I have also worked at least five days a week since the first lockdown began, not to mention homeschooling last year when my husband was on furlough. I’m classed as a key worker yet I have had the biggest fluff on when it came to getting my coronavirus vaccine.
Within my job I look after the elderly and vulnerable and the last thing I want to do is catch something and pass it on to them as it could be the death of them. I get the flu jab every year without question mainly because of my health than my job but I feel it is better safe than sorry as I sometimes worry I am potentially walking death for some of the people I support. Growing up with ulcerative colitis I would catch colds or coughs and they would incapacitate me for weeks at a time – so I don’t take my chances with the flu and the same goes for the coronavirus vaccine.
I had been patiently waiting for my employers to sort out vaccine places but whenever I would ask they would say they were waiting on an email. Only a few of us lone work and those that work in teams all caught the virus and I worry a few of them decided to keep working instead of isolating after a member was tested positive. Obviously no hard proof but from the messages management were sending it was definitely a possibility. I’m just glad I look after two ladies and I wear PPE oh and work alone! Sadly this has been a thing for many different home care companies as often staff were just thinking oh it’s a cold yet we have been told any cold symptoms has to be tested to ensure it isn’t coronavirus.
When one of my ladies told me that all carer’s needed to start getting vaccinated in my area I got right on the phone to my GP surgery. They said they would make a note on their system of my job – they didn’t. This irritated me because I have a duty to ensure the safety of others and I take it incredibly seriously. I then went into the surgery and registered as a private carer for the main lady I look after. This was the only way my surgery could put me on the waiting list! It took a week or so before the surgery rang me up and booked me in for my vaccine.
This has taken a load off my shoulders as with me going in for my bowel surgery at some point this year I knew I wanted to feel protected. I know contracting the virus in hospital is actually no different from the chance of catching it in a supermarket in reality. Yet there was the fear of me getting it and it delaying my surgery which I really need and it is making a severe impact on my life; however I don’t make a big song and dance about everything as I always think even though I’m important there are others in a worse position than I am.
I knew the drill about what happens at the vaccine site in my home town 20 miles away from where I now live as I took my main lady for hers in January after having to chase hers up. I was told they were doing the vulnerable first and it took longer than it should to book her appointment considering she is 100! I took the bus to Northallerton and dropped Button and Kobe off with 00Steve as he kindly waited nearly an hour after he finished work so I didn’t have to find childcare to bridge the gap of travelling. I went in with my mask on and washed my hands then told them my name and I was filtered through to get my shot. After they checked there wasn’t any extra precautions (ie recent vaccine or certain medications) they would need to take I had my injection and I thought I needed to wait for 15 minutes to give a window of time in case any side effects appeared, but with the astra zeneca that only mattered if I was driving.
My sister and my dad both had different versions of the vaccine and both got the aches and fatigue – generally the side effects you would get from the flu. I don’t often get side effects from the flu jab other than my arm being a bit heavy so I am hoping that the same happens with this! I have been quite horrified with how some people have manipulated the system so that they could get theirs sooner than their category.
I have friends who are doctors and they said people were coming out of the woodwork pretending to be unpaid carer’s or logging onto the NHS website and ignoring the fact it asks you to only book an appointment if you had received a letter. It is people being selfish like this that has a knock on effect on those who are patiently waiting for their turn. We are all entitled to be worried and anxious because everything is pretty unknown and it can be a scary time for many people. I felt awful asking my doctors three separate times (I asked when I booked my ladies appointment too!) but it was mainly because of my job that I was so determined that I needed my jab.
I feel like if I got the virus I would have been okay in the long run but it would have surely knocked me for six like the flu has done in the past. Have you or those you love had either the vaccine or the virus? How has it affected you and your life?