So the government has a new slogan – Get Boosted Now. As we face a ‘tidal wave of Omicron’, it’s all about getting the booster jabs as quickly as possible. Omicron is the biggest mutation of Covid so far and it’s thought the initial two jabs won’t be enough to defend against it. It is very contagious and the daily case rate is edging scarily close to 100,000 a day, with record case numbers seemingly every day.
Now all over-18s are being offered a vaccine by the end of December, which sounds like an impossibility, but it looks like it really is happening.
Boosters were initially for over 50s, people working in health and care and clinically vulnerable people only. As a 48 year old, I wasn’t actually eligible until fairly recently.
But once they’d announced booster jabs for the over 40s, I waited and I waited and I waited. As with the first and second doses, it seemed like every 43 and 44-year-old ever had already had one, while I was still waiting. To be fair, I’d also heard of 50-year-olds who were still waiting too.
We always book through the GP’s system rather than the national system, so that we can go to the big local centre. Booking through the national system means we have to travel much further, although I ddi take a look at the appointments available. Then, four days, before Boris Johnson’s big, dramatic announcement that we should Get Boosted Now, I tried a drop-in centre.
Drop-in centres aren’t a big thing round here. It was only open 5.30-8pm on one evening. I couldn’t get there very early. By the time I did, it was dark (of course), cold, raining and the queue was massive. (Although not a patch on some of the queues which have since been shown on telly, with people waiting six or seven hours for a booster.) I very much doubted if I joined the queue I would even get a jab. So I reluctantly left, but I felt rather disappointed and deflated. I was due to see the Levellers eight days later and would have felt more comfortable in the crowd if I’d been boosted.
But the next day, I got the all-important text from the GP and was able to book my booster for Monday. My husband was working away that day, so he ended up booking his for a week later. Yes, as I write this, my 48-year-old husband still isn’t boosted, but lots of people in their 20s are. My own 20-year-old son has his vaccine two days after my husband. My 18-year-son isn’t eligible yet, as he only had his second jab in October. And my poor daughter, who is 15, still hasn’t had her first jab as she had Covid in October and has to wait 90 days after infection.
I arrived for my 8.45am appointment at 8.35. Apparently it was fine to be early. I had my details checked, then I was straight in for my jab. I had Pfizer this time (it was Astra Zeneca last time). It hurt slightly more going in (I literally didn’t feel my first two jabs) – not sure if that was down to the person doing the vaccination or because it was a different jab.
I was sat down for my 15 minute wait at 8.37! I’d never had to sit for the 15 minutes before – previously they’d said only people who were driving needed to wait. Later that day, the 15 minute wait was removed nationally, to reduce crowding at vaccine centres and increase the rate at which they could do the jabs.
I didn’t get even get a card this time (although I know people in other areas have had them). It will show on my NHS app in a few days.
I had no side effects, apart from worse arm ache than I had the previous two times. I couldn’t sleep on it the first night.
Then, from feeling like I’d been left behind with getting my booster, I suddenly felt very lucky, as I watched the rest of world queuing for hours to get a jab. It seems like everyone wants a booster and they want it as quickly as possible.
Will it be enough to slow the ‘tidal wave of Omicron’? Will I have avoided it, despite going into a crowded space to watch the Levellers four days later?
Only time will tell, but I’ve done what I can and so have all the other millions who have got boosted now.