Even though students still ask me questions like, “Did you have to watch music videos at the drive-in in your day?”, I am not, in fact, 80 years old. I thought it would take quite a while for me to get the Covid vaccine, especially when the government confirmed that it would be issuing jabs by age group and not by profession.
As vaccines have a limited shelf life, and, amazingly, people are still not showing up for their jabs, our college has been lucky enough to sweep up some of the leftovers. I was desperate to get vaccinated, as my one-week Spanish holiday, which was cruelly taken from me last year, is once again approaching. There are many variables that might mean I am unable to travel, but I don’t want my vaccination status to be one of them. As the two vaccines have to be given 12 weeks apart, I have a window of opportunity.
A postmaster came around at 12.01pm on a Tuesday saying that 20 vaccines were available to staff on a first-come, first-served basis. By 12.10pm they were all gone. The postmaster reached my inbox at 12.13pm. The window of opportunity was closing. For the next two days, I refreshed my emails constantly, determined to be first off the mark when another batch came through. Happily, on Thursday morning I saw the email appear in front of me and replied within 10 seconds flat. I was on the list.
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Later that afternoon, I stood in an erstwhile boxing gym with various other members of staff, waiting for leftovers of that day’s vaccinations. It was an odd feeling to be queuing in a makeshift hospital. I used to be a big fan of post-apocalyptic and dystopian dramas, until I started living in one. As unused punchbags swung next to me, there was a weird sensation of living through history. A very nice student took my details, and another very nice student stuck me with a needle, and that was that. “Come back in the last week of June for the next one and then you’re done." This means I should have received the second jab two weeks before I am due to fly out. I can already taste the calamari.
Covid vaccine: nasty side effects
Of course, the jab has its side effects. At 4.30am the following day, I woke up and couldn’t move. As it was the last day of term before Easter, I decided to let the alarm go off and see how I was, and I felt a bit better when I got up three hours later. I felt I was fine to go to work. I was not. I started feeling bad by 9.30am and then eventually was pretty much ordered to go home at 1pm. By the evening I felt like I had been hit by a bus. My whole body ached, I felt tired by just lifting the remote control, and I wanted to sleep for a thousand years. I went to bed and woke up at 6am on Saturday morning feeling completely back to normal.
My arm still aches and my sleep schedule has completely gone to pot, but I have two weeks off work now and feel a whole lot better knowing that I’ve had the first vaccine. It feels like there’s a road out of lockdown, I already have an invitation to sit in someone’s back garden over the Easter break now that the rule of six is back, and I even have a tentative booking in a pub beer garden coming up. It’s not quite Majorca, but it will do for now.
Kirsty Walker teaches at a college in the North West of England