My experience with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Two days ago, I had my first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This morning, I woke up with crocodile skin, a third leg and visions of Bill Gates tickling my feet at the end of my bed.

Right, now the anti-vaxxers are hooked, let’s get started.

I qualified for inoculation on the basis of my Type 1 Diabetes, which puts me in group six based on the JCVI’s recommended prioritisation for COVID-19 vaccination.

It was quite a nerve-wracking experience and initially, I am not really sure why – every year, I get the flu vaccine without problems, and I have had several other vaccines too.

After all, it is a totally new vaccine, the clinical trials for which ended just months ago. That is not to say that I, a meagre 21-year old politics student, is in any position to doubt the science – nonetheless, any slight apprehension is a natural human reaction.

No matter how ridiculous some of the theories out there are, as you wait in line, seconds away from being jabbed, you can’t help but think of what the maniacs pedal on social media.

“Shit, what if Bill Gates actually will be able to track me after this?”; “I am definitely going to have an anaphylactic shock” were some of the ones playing over in my head as I waited in line.

I quickly reminded myself that Bill Gates already tracks me and that I have never had an anaphylactic shock and went to get my jab.

The overall booking system was very slick – being in group six, I had to wait for my GP to contact me, rather than vice versa, which was initially frustrating.

Soon enough, though, I was contacted. Immediately, I began to run around my flat like Anton from Love Island screaming ‘I’ve got a text!!!!!!!!!’, whilst hoping that the vaccine wouldn’t give me a wandering eye.

I received my text on the Wednesday at 12pm and I was booked in for Saturday at 9am.

When I showed up at the vaccination centre, there was a queue of around 30 or 40 people, which moved very quickly. Two men were arguing in the queue, with one screaming ‘all you have done since I have been speaking to you, sir, is complain – there are thousands dead who would love to be in your position’.

God, I thought, it’s not even 9am on a Saturday, please leave it out. Why do us Britons love to argue?

Anyway, I was inside within 20 minutes. A helpful clerk inside informed me that my particular GP surgery [in Coventry] had been inoculating patients for around seven weeks, with just five GPs, and that they had carried out over 10,000 vaccinations already – that’s nearly 285 per doctor per week – impressive to say the least.

Then the doctor called my name. I went straight in and was asked some brief screening questions about allergies, medications and clarifying on what basis I was there. He explained some of the potential side effects and ten seconds later I had been jabbed.

And just like that, I had been given protection against COVID-19. I left the surgery and waited in the car for fifteen minutes [you can’t drive immediately after inoculation] and waited for my inevitable anaphylactic shock – to my avail, it never came. Happy days.

It was a good nine or ten hours before I started to experience any side effects and even then it was just a sore arm and some fatigue.

The fatigue eventually intensified, which was followed by about one or two hours of chills, and a horrible headache. By the morning, though, the majority had passed and for the rest of the day, it felt like a mild hangover.

Two days on, all side effects are gone, bar my sore arm. No facial drooping, no microchip – no seriously, I feel completely fine and it is a relief to have some protection against COVID-19, even if it takes several weeks and a further second dose for full protection.

The NHS is doing an incredible job at rolling out this vaccine, as well as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – if and when you are called up, I absolutely would recommend that you take the opportunity. The science shows it’s safe, it will protect you and others from illness, so why not?