Please join me and the Jabbed Brigade - it may save your life

Torbay Weekly

It may not be over until the fat lady sings but in the covid pandemic the fat lady hasn’t even cleared her throat. Now the vaccine is giving us some protection, are we at least at the beginning of the finale?

I needed a booster six months after my second jab and so I marked the date on my calendar. My first two vaccines, both AstraZenica, were given in my GP surgery but this one was Pfizer. As it needs to be stored at -80 degrees and must be used quickly, it was not practical to be given in a small GP surgery.

As soon as I could, I booked into the English Riviera Centre online and the system worked first time.

I don’t know what I was expecting but the organisation would have put Heathrow Airport in the shade. As I arrived, there was a queue of cars but, very quickly, the volunteers pointed us all in the right direction.

There was a queue for the “walk-ins” who had not made an appointment and another queue for those of us who had booked. It was fantastic to see so many people all wanting their boosters. Despite the “anti-vac” propaganda, the people of Torbay had arrived in large numbers. They understood the importance of the vaccine.

I found my booking number on my phone and was shown into the main hall. It felt like the queues for security at an airport but with no conveyor belt or x-ray machine and far quicker. As I was waiting, I realised that everyone else had the sense to wear a short-sleeved top.

Foolishly, I had put on a long-sleeved shirt. Very soon, I was seen by a nurse, I apologised for my long sleeves but she was too polite to criticise. After asking a few questions, she gave me the injection, which I hardly felt. I was then given a notice saying, “Please clean me” and was sent to wait on a chair. Luckily, this was not a personal message to hang around my neck, but for the chair when I had finished.

I will continue to wear a mask in crowded areas, keep two metres away from others when possible and wash and sanitize my hands regularly. The booster does not completely protect me from covid, any more than my seat belt gives me complete protection in a car accident but a seat belt makes it far less likely I will be killed or injured, and the vaccine reduces my risk from covid.

On the same day, it was announced that everyone working in the NHS must get vaccinated.

I’ve had numerous compulsory vaccinations to work as a doctor. The first priority for anyone working in healthcare is the protect their patients. By refusing the vaccine, staff are putting patients at unnecessary risk.

The covid jab is compulsory for all healthcare workers in France, Italy, Greece and New Zealand. France even suspended 3,000 unvaccinated healthcare workers without pay.

I can understand that some people may have reservations and need to talk it through but the arguments for the vaccine are so strong that, having explained the tiny risks and massive benefits, very few would still refuse.

But I have a wider concern. The vaccines have undergone all the trials and tests required for any new medicine and have now been given to millions of people around the world. If anyone thinks this testing is inadequate, then so are the tests for all the other medical treatments given in the NHS.

If anyone does not trust the scientists or believes there is some conspiracy, I wonder whether they are in the right job. Working in healthcare and not accepting the principles of the medical research behind all the treatments is a bit like becoming a vicar and not believing in God.

I now have first-hand experience of the amazing efficiency of the NHS and booster jabs. I was delighted to see so many people queueing up. For anyone who is worried, please join us. The vaccine is safe, effective and will protect others. It may just save your life.