How the Covid vaccine gives a new lease of life after a dreadful year - Christa Ackroyd

It’s been almost a week since I had my Covid jab and I am most disappointed to report that Bill Gates has not been in touch. I admit to feeling a bit lethargic, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the vaccination. I am just lazy.

Joking apart, what a week this has been. My trip to a clinic four miles away for my appointment was the furthest I have been in months. Freedom. Just to get outside and go somewhere with a purpose other than for stocking up the damn fridge and then raiding it all day. Well it felt fantastic. Forget the snow, I would have walked there if necessary.

I even bought a hair dye and did my roots in celebration. (Ok I missed a bit at the back but hey ho). Not only that but I slapped on my war paint, as my dad always called it, as well. I didn’t bother with the lipstick. It makes such a mess of your mask. And as I have discovered to my cost upon removal of said protective face covering it has the potential to leave one looking as though one is auditioning for a remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. (Younger readers look it up. It’s a great film ).

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So lipstick apart, for me this was a day to get dressed up for. I felt more like my old self for the first time in ages. Thank goodness. I am sick to the back teeth of my daily garb of jeans and the same old jumper. What is the point in getting out your best bib and tucker for another day in front of the telly? Oh how our lives have changed.

Opening of the new vaccination centre at Elland Road, Leeds. Sgt Phil Morris from the Royal Regimental Aid Post 4th Battalion, Scottish Regiment, prepares the AstraZeneca vaccine on February 8. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Before you ask, no I am not over 70. My lupus means I am on the extremely vulnerable list. Well, I didn’t feel extremely vulnerable last Monday. I felt elated. And extremely grateful to the scientists and our wonderful NHS for their brilliance. The whole experience was quick, comforting and yes, painless.

From the moment I drove into the car park to be greeted by the volunteers who had shovelled away the snow to the moment the lovely nurse, Sue, stuck the needle into my arm, it took all of three minutes. And Sue, I didn’t feel a thing. I was also delighted that, unlike my husband, I wasn’t given a leaflet on advice for older adults. You see that make up worked wonders! What a celebration I had. I even cracked open a bottle of wine. (As if I needed the excuse). That’s how good it felt.

Ok, so we are not all at the same place in the vaccination rollout, I understand that. You may have had your first vaccine so you will know how I felt. You may be waiting for yours so you will understand my sense of anticipation. Or, you may be dithering, a lovely old fashioned word, because you are worried about its after effects. Well don’t be. It was for me the most wonderful, uplifting and exciting thing to have happened to me in ages.

But I won’t lie, because there is no point, I could tell I had been given a vaccination. My arm was killing me for 24 hours (nothing that two paracetamols couldn’t put an end to) and I was gloriously itchy which is what always happens with my condition with any new medication. But honestly it was nothing. I was expecting 10 times worse and would have accepted that, too. I feel nothing but excitement for the future. And I haven’t felt like that in ages.

And the good news is every day there are new studies out to show how well it is working. We even got a half apology from the World Health Organisation for doubting the

decision to space out the two jabs required saying thanks to our scientists not only were they accepting the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccinations, but that a longer time difference between the two doses actually improves protection.

All that with an announcement from the same company that a potential booster jab tweaked to combat the new variants will be ready by the autumn. I really can’t get my head around their genius.

So if you are an anti-vaxxer, or someone who believes in ridiculous conspiracy theories, or just accept something you read on Facebook which says we are being treated as guinea pigs, then this column is not for you. And nothing you say will dampen my joy and new found sense of anticipation. Having the jab is a walk in the park by comparison with catching the thing it is protecting you against.

It’s a good job I felt on top of the world because on Wednesday I found myself on the Jeremy Vine Show on Channel 5, discussing, among other things, the station’s Shannon Matthews documentary which aired this week and which I took part in.

As we chatted about everything from appalling car park charges for nurses, to whether I could stomach a Weetabix with baked beans for breakfast, I thought back to that momentous moment just 48 hours earlier when I received my vaccination and realised it had done more than just protect me from this terrible virus. It allowed me to feel like me again. It has been so

long since I have been on live TV that there were times during lockdown when I doubted whether I would even have the confidence to do it again.

Because that is what this dreadful year has done. It has made us all more insular, more doubtful about our futures, even our abilities to function in a normal world.

Being vaccinated has given me back a renewed vigour for living. And made me realise I want to get out there again, that I have places to go, definitely people to see and stories to tell.

So sorry folks, the old Christa is back. That is what the Covid jab has done for me. Because by the end of this year, it will have given all of us who have survived this pandemic our lives back. Please don’t hesitate. Honestly you will feel like a different person. Trust me, I’m a journalist.