Getting the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the UK (for a 72-year-old)

Yesterday I had my first dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Within about three hours I started to feel a bit feverish. Today, about 12 hours later, it feels like I have a low level fever. My joints ache a little bit and I have a mild headache. I had to take paracetamol to feel a bit better. There’s no doubt that I have had a coronavirus vaccine. The symptoms that I am feeling are exactly as listed on the pamphlet that was given to me at the vaccine centre.

Astrazeneca Covid 19 vaccine record card
Astrazeneca Covid 19 vaccine record card. Photo: MikeB.

The vaccine was given to me at a scout hut in Putney, London, UK. It was arranged by the local GP surgery. I have nothing but praise for the NHS in this instance. I am not a great fan of the NHS but they’ve restored my faith in them to a certain extent.

Arranging the vaccine was very straightforward on my smartphone. The software worked brilliantly well and I have an old smartphone so due credit to the software writers. I arrived at the temporary vaccine centre about 45 minutes early. I wasn’t sure whether they would let me go ahead. They couldn’t have been more welcoming. I checked in and they provided me with a pamphlet and I waited my turn. There were about 20 NHS workers in the building.

It was divided up into cubicles where vaccines were being delivered. The lady who checked me in handed me over to another lady who took me to my cubicle and asked me to wait at a certain spot marked out on the floor. When my turn came I sat down and had a chat with the woman delivering the vaccine. I remarked that Israel has said that in their experience the Pfizer vaccine was 33% effective. She had heard about it but didn’t comment.

I asked which vaccine I was going to be given and I was pleased to be told that it was the AstraZeneca one (I am a Brexiteer and this vaccine is British!). She said that there were supply problems of the vaccine but did not specify which one. I’ve heard of problems with the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine in the papers. She was quite concerned about this. It is a great shame because the government and the NHS are doing a wonderful job in delivering this vaccine. It is a logistics nightmare but I sense that they have coped admirably. I was highly impressed.

After I received the vaccine I was told where to go and another lady told me how to leave the building. As I said, there were a lot of people in that building but they were all playing a role to ensure that there was a smooth throughput of customers who kept social distance.

I was surprised to receive my vaccine so early. I am 72-years-of-age. I’m in that over 70 age bracket which is prioritised because I’m considered vulnerable, although I don’t feel vulnerable. I was told that I might receive it sometime in the middle of February but actually received it on 21st January. Once again this is impressive.

To return to the symptoms: they are quite bad actually. I have never felt this bad after vaccine in my memory. They say they can last for about a week and that the slight feverishness can be worse around 1-2 days after the vaccine. It makes you feel tired and gives you a headache combined with general aches or mild flulike symptoms. The symptoms are worse than for the standard flu vaccine.

I’m concerned, personally, that the government has made a mistake, however, in delaying the second vaccine for 12 weeks. No doubt the decision was made on medical advice but it seems rash to me to break with the strict rules of delivery of this vaccine as assessed by the vaccine makers. The three-week spacing between the first and second vaccine has been tested and the regulator has agreed with it. Why have all these wonderfully tight and careful tests and checks been made when you tear them up in order to deliver more vaccines more quickly?

It may turn out to be a mistake to extend the time between the first and second vaccine by a factor of about four. It may render the vaccine less effective. It’s important to have the second vaccine to benefit from the full immunity that it provides. They don’t know exactly what they’ve done in not following the vaccine protocol. This may come to haunt the government in the future if the vaccine is less effective. It may result in the pandemic continuing for longer than they had hoped. It may even result in deaths that would not otherwise have taken place. This may make the government culpable. In the worst case scenario, their decision could be judged to be negligent. I’m painting a very negative picture which is perhaps not suitable at this time because, as I said, the delivery of this vaccine was carried out with great professionalism. All credit to the NHS.

What has this got to do with the animal-human relationship? Well, quite a lot. The vaccine goes to the heart of life. It affects in a positive way the animal-human relationship. This disease is zoonotic. You want to do all you can do prevent its spread and to quash it. That affects our companion animals because they, too, can get it from people.

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