BEING 80 has drawbacks. Getting insurance, or a mortgage, running for a train or up steep stairs are damn near impossible.
But when it comes to Covid jabs, we are certainly the lucky ones.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
People queue outside a Covid-19 Vaccination Centre at Robertson House in Stevenage, HertfordshireCredit: EPA
I got my first jab before Christmas and the second one last week, and I’ll be immune in another week.
The relief is huge and I’m profoundly grateful for the efficiency and speed of my local Chipping Norton Health Centre, mostly manned by volunteers.
I would really encourage everyone to sign up to The Sun’s Jabs Army, and help out the centres to make the process go smoothly and quickly.
We oldies queued outside on designated distanced spots, were sanitised, ushered into separate surgeries, bared an arm, were duly jabbed, (so painless I didn’t feel it), given a card saying we’d had the inoculation, sat on a chair for 15 minutes to be monitored for any reaction and were out again in half an hour.
Prue Leith, 80, receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccineCredit: PA:Press Association
How to sign up
VOLUNTEERS for the Jabs Army are being asked to first register online at nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk
You will then receive an email with log-in details to sign up online.
Finally, you will be asked to download the GoodSAM app on a smartphone which will match you to a role in your area.
Services will be opening in the coming days and weeks, with different areas up and running at different times, so you might not be required on site for some weeks. Not everyone who signs up will need to be called upon.
You need to commit to only two six-hour shifts a month at a vaccination service, and no prior experience or qualifications are required.
You will work as part of a team that will include NHS staff and volunteers. The Royal Voluntary Service will conduct appropriate background checks.
SHEDLOADS OF MONEY
The whole thing was rather jolly, lots of grey-heads chatting and discussing whether we deserved our luck.
Opinions seemed equally divided as to whether we should be the priority group, or whether first jabs should go to young wage-earners with children to support. All of us were eager to have it, though.
The night after my second jab, I felt a bit shivery, but paracetamol fixed that, and oddly, I felt reassured. After the first jab (which had no obvious effects) I’d wondered if the stuff had actually gone in my arm. I now knew that it was working!
It seems some people are nervous of having the jab, fearing that it has been developed too fast and not been properly tested. But that fear is truly unfounded. There are two main reasons the vaccine has been developed so quickly: First, shedloads of money has been thrown at it, and second, the crisis has produced unprecedented co-operation between scientists, companies and countries.
All the vaccines have gone through the usual trials and tests to get approval, but the extra funding has meant several trials for the same vaccine could be run at once.
That meant the regulators could examine aspects of the vaccines as they were developed rather than wait for the finished product and then start testing.
Bake Off judge Prue has now had both her inoculations Credit: Getty – Contributor
The jab is free, harmless, painless, and it works, Prue says Credit: PA:Press Association
Volunteers for the trials could be recruited in advance and, crucially, companies took the risk of going ahead and producing millions and millions of doses once they had developed their vaccine but in advance of approval, knowing that if approval was refused, they would have to destroy the vaccines without compensation. Why would anyone refuse a jab? Apart from the obvious benefit of not getting Covid, surely you would want, if not to protect yourself, at least to protect your family and friends and the rest of us.
If we don’t get at least 70 per cent of the population resistant to Covid, there will be enough unprotected victims of the disease for the virus to go on spreading and mutating for years, with more lockdowns, more threat to the NHS and little hope of returning to the social life we once had.
And it would be a pity if the Government were forced to make the vaccination compulsory, as some countries undoubtedly will. We should really stop worrying.
The militant anti-vaxxers forget that without vaccines we would still have cholera, yellow fever, smallpox and polio, and if they had not unnecessarily frightened so many mums, measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) would not still be with us.
SAFETY for our Jab Army volunteers is paramount.
Here we answer your questions about how you will be protected while working as a Steward Volunteer in a vaccine centre:
When I do my voluntary duty will I be safe from catching Covid?
Volunteer and patient safety is the NHS and Royal Voluntary Services’ top priority.
While is no upper age limit for volunteering but being a Steward Volunteer is a frontline role and is not for anyone who is in a medium or high-risk category.
Team leaders will ensure volunteers have the correct equipment to keep them safe at all times and social distancing will be in place throughout volunteer shifts.
There are lots of other volunteering roles available on the website.
Will I be asked to wear PPE?
Yes, the safety of volunteers is extremely important and you will be provided with appropriate PPE at the vaccination centres by your team leader.
Will I come in direct contact with patients?
One of the key jobs of our Steward Volunteers is to make sure people queuing up to receive their jabs are keeping to a safe social distance.
This is also includes yourself, so, where possible you will be two metres away from patients and other volunteers.
What training will I be given?
You will be provided with a comprehensive ‘Getting You Started guide’ to explain everything that is required on site.
As this is a non-clinical role, no specific training is required and once you arrive on site, team leaders will take you through a site introduction and briefing.
One disappointment: I had fondly imagined that once vaxxed I’d be free to go anywhere, pick up my grandchildren, sit hugger-mugger with family and friends. But no. It seems that, though, while my immune system will prevent Covid developing in me, or at worst greatly lessen its symptoms, it won’t stop me breathing the virus in and out and passing it on.
Of course there are still some unanswered questions: Is it going to be effective? What about unforeseen side-effects?
Will it work with future variations of Covid? Should it be given to children?
The truth is, as with any vaccine, we can only go on the evidence we have. And for me it’s a no-brainer.
No one, as far as I know, has died from the vaccine.
Nearly 2million have died from the virus.
Let’s just do it.
It’s free, it’s harmless, it’s painless, it’s quick and easy and it works. And it’s our very best chance (and a good one) of saying goodbye to coronavirus.
What’s not to like?
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]