Author Yang-May Ooi reflects on what it means for her to take up the first dose of the vaccination against Covid-19.
One of over 30 million ¦ Oxford Moments
A couple of weeks ago, I heard on the digital grapevine that appointments were open for my age group for the Covid jab. I was out at the time, on my way to do some essential grocery shopping, when one of my Whatsapp threads pinged up with someone sharing the news. I found myself excitedly hurrying to finish the shopping so I could head briskly home to log on to the NHS website to book my slot.
The process was easy and impressively streamlined, allowing me to choose where to go for the jab and which dates and time slots for both the first and second dose. Confirmation came through by email and text.
Like some of my other civic-minded friends, I messaged a number of my other friends in the same age group to let them know so that they could sign up even before they got the formal letter from their GP. Over the next few days, I saw others with a similar community spirit share the news on Facebook and other digitla means to give their friends the early heads-up so we could sign up as soon as possible.
On the appointed day, the sun blazed the afternoon in early spring light. I set off on foot to the Kassam Stadium on the outskirts of Oxford, a leisurely stroll of 40 minutes or so. My cousin, poet Pey Colborne, was my virtual companion on the phone as I walked. She had just come back from her appointment where she lives in Bath and told me how efficient and quick it had been. We both felt a sense of solidarity in being part of so many people heading off for our first doses all within a few weeks of each other.
At the vast Kassam Stadium, there were friendly marshalls directing the cars who arrived in orderly queues. I was the only pedestrian and a little bit early for my slot but they ushered me through. Each step along the way, there were helpful marshalls who kept us all moving along to the next stage at appropriate distances apart. At the registration counter, there were a few simple questions to answer to verify who I was.
Once I was in with the doctor and nurse, there were a few more questions checking my health and allergy status. Each step along the way, I was told what to expect and the pin prick jab was over in an instant – just like any flu jab or innoculation you might get at your local GP or pharmacy. Afterwards, I had the chance to sit for a few minutes if I was driving but as I was going to walk home, I could head off immediately.
I followed the stream of jabbed folk out in the sunshine again and headed home as others flowed in to take their turns.
Beaming and happy
Over the next week or so, I watched as Facebook and other digital spaces filled with photos of friends and others proudly showing their vaccination cards. They were all beaming and happy to be part of the growing millions of people who were taking up this protection against the virus.
Common side effects after the vaccination are headaches, flu-like aching muscles, feeling under the weather and the runs. A number of my friends experienced these to varying degrees. I was very much relieved that I had hardly any side effecs at all – other than feeling a bit under the weather for half an hour but then once I’d had dinner, feeling fine again. I later heard that not everyone experiences side effects!
Being part of something greater than myself
I feel privileged and grateful to be one of over 30 million (and counting) people who have now had their first dose. There is also a sense of purpose that comes of being part of something greater than myself.
For over a year, we have all felt helpless in the face of the pandemic – whether we are suffering the effects of the virus directly ourselves or because our loved ones have caught it, or whether we have had to endure the stay at home orders, furloughs, job losses or business liquidation. There was nothing we could do but wait.
And now, here is one thing we can finally do, action we can each take (where our health allows). We can make an appointment for our vaccination and go along, roll up our sleevs and have the jab. It felt empowering to do this one small thing and I feel that I am protecting not just myself but others, too.
As the roll-out continues, others in younger age groups can now have the chance to take up the vaccination.
I am aware of the controversies about the merits of the different vaccines and about vaccination generally. I do not aim to change anyone’s mind in a single, simple blog post nor am I a medical expert able to debate the pros and cons of the jab.
All I know is that I feel a sense of relief and hope – as many others who have taken up the vaccination most likely also feel. For these millions of us, alongside other continuing measures as advised by the medical experts, the vaccine seems to be our universal way out of the pandemic.
Note: When I was vaccinated, I was one in just over 8 million people. As at today, over 30 million have now been jabbed!
Oxford Moments is a personal blog by author Yang-May Ooi, exploring the city of Oxford, its people and places. “Oxford inspired me as a student and I’m excited to be back here making a new home and rebuilding my life. This project is my multi-faceted discovery of the moments that can give us a sense of home, belonging and enrichment.” Follow Oxford Moments at bit.ly/OxfordMoments
Author: Yang-May Ooi
Yang-May Ooi is a writer & podcaster. Her creative work includes The Flame Tree and Mindgame (novels), Bound Feet Blues (theatre) and Creative Conversations (podcast). ¦ www.TigerSpirit.co.uk