It was a stressful waiting game – particularly for those of us on the priority list because of our occupation, or underlying health conditions. Being a Type 1 diabetic, I initially understood my position to be Cohort 4 in terms of priority. Upon further inspection I downgraded myself to Cohort 7 as my diabetes is under reasonable control. Then I heard reports of diabetics younger than I, getting their first dose of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. Followed by the Astra-Zeneca vaccine being withdrawn from use for everyone except those aged between 60 to 69 years old, because of rare incidence of blood clots that developed subsequent to vaccine. My heart was scalded. As I feverishly washed my hands and wore my mask, behind which I glared at people who breached my two metre personal space.
The understanding was that the numbers getting vaccinated would ramp up during April. So I waited. I rang the diabetes clinic who told me to call my GP. I rang my GP who told me that they had no spare vaccines. A week later I emailed the diabetes clinic who replied to say that my details has been sent to the HSE and I would be called when it was my turn.
I investigated nefarious means of getting a vaccine in Northern Ireland, where the vaccine programme is far more advanced than in the Republic. I managed to book an appointment for April 16th in the vaccination centre close to Newry. I cancelled it however, as I had a dose of The Fear. Crime doesn’t pay.
And I waited.
Last Wednesday my telephone rang at 6.30pm. It was a friendly woman calling to tell me that I was to receive my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Saturday at 11.50am in St. James’s Hospital.
I didn’t sleep well on Friday night. It reminded me of going to bed on Christmas Eve as a child. When my alarm went off on Saturday morning I jumped from the bed. Only four hours to wait.
I arrived at the hospital thirty minutes early – there was no way I was going to miss my slot. Following the one way traffic system in place in the main concourse of the hospital I made my way to the first check in area. I provided my details to the receptionist who entered them and pointed me in the direction of the second check in area, where I received paperwork, on which I answered several questions about my allergies; current medicines and signed a legal disclaimer. Upon completion of the paperwork I was directed into the vaccination area where I was immediately called into a booth. The vaccinator asked me the same questions that I had filled in on the form. She told me to drink plenty of water over the next day, to take a paracetamol if the injection site was sore or swollen. She drew the vaccine into the syringe, knocked on the booth next door, where the vaccinator double checked her syringe and have the nod. And in the needle went. I scarcely felt it.
She told me that I would get a text message to confirm precise details, but that May 22nd was the likely date for my next shot.
I was directed to a waiting area where I was told to sit and wait for twenty minutes. I did so.
It may sound ridiculous but I am delighted that I received the Moderna vaccine. She may have no medical background, but the fact that Moderna is the vaccine that developed with the financial support of Dolly Parton, makes me trust it over the others.
After twenty minutes I got up and departed. Partly vaccinated and ready to resume my hobby of licking door-handles once I have had both doses.