Lockdown and vaccination

(The cartoon is from yesterday’s online Spectator.)

I have an appointment for vaccination on Monday.

So far as I know this is simply because of my age. I fall into the ‘next cohort’.

I have been mostly isolating since last March. I shop online as far as possible. I have not been to a shop, or used cash, since then. Occasionally, my husband and my daughter have brought shopping to me and I disinfect everything. I cannot take advantage of the permission to go out for exercise. I walk, badly and slowly, with a stick, and need frequent rests on e.g. a park bench. I understand that this is currently illegal. The last time I left our house and garden was for a flu jab, in autumn.

I am not grumbling, or at least, only at the virus. I am no different from lots and lots of people and I know I’m better off than a lot. I have a comfortable house, a supportive husband who is good company, no money worries, and no health problems other than my bad back and some hay fever. All our extended family are currently well, even our son-in-law’s father who was hospitalised with Covid. However, I’m still, like many others, in a kind of prison and can only begin to imagine how dreadful it must be for people who live alone or in less than comfortable surroundings.

I am pro-vaccination. I believe in the concept and science of vaccination. I believe in the way vaccination protects the entire community including people who for health reasons can’t be vaccinated. I have some confidence in the new Covid vaccines. The researchers have worked very hard and the trials have been properly carried out. However, the results from Israel, which is ahead of most countries in rolling out the programme suggest that protection will be limited until the second dose has been not only administered but had time to develop full efficacy and it is still not clear whether the vaccine prevents transmission as well as protecting against severe symptoms.

I have no idea which vaccine I will be given or even if the appointment will go ahead. I was asked to make the appointment for the second dose at the same time I made the first and I did, but I have no idea whether that will go ahead either – it’s for 12 weeks’ time. There are rumours, half bits of information, lots of encouragement, and virtually no hard facts. Some areas and centres run out of vaccine or run out of staff. But the Manchester Etihad Stadium has not reported any problems so far. (I just hope I don’t have to queue or that if I do there is seating.)

So I ought to be excited about my appointment. I’m sure friends and medical staff will encourage me to express delight and optimism.

I will turn up for my ‘jab’, but forgive me if I am less than enthusiastic. People are talking as if we have actually reached the light at the end of the tunnel and guess what? We haven’t.

This is not a get-out-of-gaol-free card. It takes about three weeks for any protection to kick in, and then there’s the 12 week wait for the second dose and a further 3 week wait. So we’re looking at the beginning of May… I can’t imagine much lifting of restrictions before then in any of UK because it’s going to be at least then before most older people are protected. Even then, it’s only partial protection.

Meanwhile, we are all still in lockdown. I can’t see my family, even my daughter and grandson (last seen in August) or my friends. I can’t go out. I’ve mentioned the walking problem and of course I can’t drive anywhere for a change of scenery. I can’t stand and queue for a shop though I hate shopping anyway so that isn’t a real concern. Other than medical appointments such as the one for vaccination there is no legal way I can leave the house even once vaccinated. Dentists, opticians, hairdressers, etc. are still closed and will remain so. Besides, those are not exactly things to look forward to. We have been told not to plan summer holidays or days out, even in UK. The weather is cold, dark, and depressing. I live in a big house but I’m feeling slightly claustrophobic.

We are currently still in January – and I’m one of the lucky ones.

Also, it’s snowing, which is very pretty and very cold. We were invited (it’s random) to be on the ONS covid survey so we get tested regularly – they aren’t allowed to come in and they’re due today at 12.30 and that means having the door open for longer than I would like.

11 thoughts on “Lockdown and vaccination

  1. The timescale to immunity isn’t quite as long as you fear – it’s 12 weeks from the date of first vaccination (not from 2-3 after that) when you get the second dose, and after that it’s only a week until you’re about 95% protected. Hope it all goes well!

    • WP has got your comments out of order… Anyway, glad to know it isn’t 3 weeks after second jab but as I said, it only reduces the fear of death, it doesn’t release me from prison! There must be a lot of people like me who are effectively housebound because we’re not supposed to drive anywhere, can’t walk well enough to take exercise, etc. However, by the end of April there might be some sunshine and I can at least go outside into the garden.

      • yes, I feel your pain about being trapped indoors. Even we have cabin fever and we’re lucky to be able to get out more easily than you… and yes, wouldn’t some better weather be nice?!

  2. These are the things I think about when people say prison is a ‘soft option’.

    I’m with you on the timescale, I don’t think it’ll be all over by Easter – I think there’ll be a gradual easing of restrictions from the summer onwards and that we may still be wearing face masks at Christmas.

    I was particularly disheartened by last Christmas, I wish Boris had had the backbone to be more straight with us – people could have planned for a lockdown Crimbo, but being left-footed at the eleventh hour was really hard.

    I still think there is light at the end of the tunnel now we have a vaccine, but between anti-vaxers and Covidiots deliberately working against any progress and the evolving nature of the disease itself – I think it’s going to be a lengthy tunnel.

    Apart from any lingering restrictions, there’s all the damage to the economy – people dealing with long Covid, people who have got into debt during furlough, and those who have lost their jobs altogether. We’d only just got back on our feet after the 2008 crash – and there were no restrictions on anything at that time. It could well be harder with so many businesses on their knees.

    Still the summer is coming, the days are drawing out and the better weather is on its way. Even if all I can do is look out of a window at it for another year, I’m determined to focus on thoughts of a brighter future and not taking the simpler pleasures for granted when they return.

    Chin up my friend :0)

    • Have just spotted your further comment identifying yourself!! Yes – I’m looking forward to spring. I really enjoyed being out in the garden last year – fresh air, bird song, no planes (we live under Manchester Airport’s flight path) and neighbours also out in their gardens and so chatting from a safe distance. I always hate January and February – just hope they pass quickly!

  3. Dear Liz, I had my first jab this morning. Four queues were fed into a large room divided into cubicles with screens between. Nobody was disinfecting the chairs where we sat for the injection, though hand sanitisers were available in the lobby. The nurse asked a series of questions (and fed the answers into her computer which she had set up after checking the details on my letter) to find out my current state of health, any allergies, whether I had taken part in previous vaccine trials or had a Covid vaccination. I assured her I was fine, didn’t take blood-thinning medication of any kind and hadn’t had a vaccination. I asked which one it was and she said that it was the Oxford Vaccine today. My letter told me to turn up at 11.01 am. The queues meant people just had to move forward as directed, so it was approximately 11.15am when I left. My next jab is set for Thursday 8th April. (The Thursday after Easter weekend.) Emma took me to a big Health Centre being used by eight different local Health Practices for Vaccination. She stood with me and I was glad of her arm while we waited in the queue. I would have felt very wobbly, by the time we got right into the Centre. It was dry but bitterly cold and no chairs till you reached the cubicle. Lots of elderly folk had a son or daughter (or elderly partner) with them and nobody queried that. Emma has been my “support bubble” all along, so that was obviously expected. In the circumstances, I think it was quite well organised. I would prefer to have my second jab sooner, but at the last TV briefing the “Expert” was adamant that it was safer to give a larger number of people one dose and catch up later with the second dose… Fingers crossed that does not turn out to be a big mistake.

    I had a message on my mobile phone last Wednesday to say my first appoint ment would be for 11.01 am today and a letter would follow. The letter confirming my two appointments came on Thursday from my G.P. I suppose I could have changed the appointments had it been inconvenient for Emma. I certainly would not fancy travelling by bus or taxi if she had been at work. So far my arm is fine. If it gets sore, I will take some Paracetamol. I was given a booklet produced by North Tyneside about keeping fit(!) and a letter with bland advice about possible side effects. My daughter-in-law, Lucy, had her first injection three weeks ago and felt very poorly for 24 hours. Eric says she’s OK now, but it knocked her sideways for a bit. I was surprised she hadn’t had it sooner after she was desperately ill for three weeks last March. Maybe she has a lot of antibodies that objected to the vaccine… who knows?

    Good Luck on Monday. Let me know how it goes. I feel very tired, so I’m off to bed. (Early for me!) Love Jx ________________________________

  4. I’m worrying about having to stand for long. C is taking me but we’re not sure how far I can be accompanied. There is some evidence to show there is almost no transmission from clothes, seats, etc. because any traces of the virus on those surfaces is too small to cause infection. Hand sanitisers, too, though useful, are not as important as good ventilation and masks. Transmission is largely via droplets in the air when people speak. I had plenty of choice of venue and time. I just hope the exact timing, like yours, works!! I suppose that’s down to whether the supplies of vaccine arrive when expected. My second appointment is 13th April. I will phone some time during the week!

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