Julie Helen: Why I'm emotional after my first shot of Covid-19 vaccine

Julie Helen is in the high risk category for contracting Covid-19, as she was born with cerebral palsy. This week she got her first jab of the Pfizer-Bionetic Covid-19 vaccine
Julie Helen: Why I'm emotional after my first shot of Covid-19 vaccine

Julie Helen, who writes a weekly column for WoW! in The Echo got her Covid-19 vaccine this week

I HAVE been trying to come up with something wild and wonderful to write about this week, really delving into everything I can think of.

Truthfully, there has been only one thing on my mind. I have been a little reluctant to put my thoughts down in words, but I need to be honest and real, that is how I roll.

I got my first shot of Pfizer-Biontec Covid 19 vaccine on Sunday.

I only got the call from my GP on Friday. When I saw the doctor’s number come up on my phone, I never expected it to be a call for a vaccination. As I spoke to the lovely medical secretary as she told me I was eligible for vaccination because I am in a high risk category, I could feel the tears stinging behind my eyes.

Vaccination from this deadly pandemic has become such an emotional issue, and I am no exception. 

I gladly accepted the appointment and thanked the secretary for the call. I was relieved, excited and nervous all in one.

There is part of me that feels sad to be in a high risk category for contracting Covid-19. It has made me very fearful of getting the virus.

Often, people with cerebral palsy can have respiratory difficulties. I am lucky, I have had pneumonia once ever and all of my choral singing in my schooldays means I have great lung capacity. 

I am at greater risk out and about in the community because I need to touch everything and hold on to surfaces to balance. 

I often need help from other people and not feeling comfortable asking for that help is really scary.

I have only really been out a handful of times, to the post office and places like that, and when I am wearing a mask, I find it nearly impossible to walk safely with my sticks. I never realised that I always watched where I place my stick in front of me, so with the mask, I can’t easily see. I have noticed too that I tend to hold my breath because I am afraid of doing the wrong thing with social distancing. 

Walking doesn’t come automatically to me so stopping, starting, changing direction and judging distance can be tricky.

The upshot is, with a scary virus around the place, I have stayed at home as much as I can, like so many people. Being called for vaccination means that the future looks brighter.

I asked Mum to come with me because I wasn’t sure I could navigate the vaccination centre safely myself. We arrived at MTU, it was still called CIT the last time I was there, and were struck by how well organised everything was. We were in and out in 30 minutes and that included 15 minutes of observation to make sure I didn’t react badly to the contents of the jab! Luckily I was fine.

Staff were really helpful, Mum and I even remarked that we lost count of the number of offers of assistance we got. I could have managed myself without any difficulty.

I will return for my second dose in four weeks’ time and be delighted to be fully vaccinated two weeks after that. On return home, I didn’t feel great and I still have a bit of a sore arm. I was almost reassured by some small side effects. The vaccine is in my body and beginning to do the job it is meant to do.

I am encouraged that over the coming weeks and months, slowly but surely, vaccination will make life better for us all. We will get there.

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