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Opinion: ‘Getting the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination has lifted a weight off of my shoulders’

By Neil MacPhail

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A man receiving a vaccination for Covid-19. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
A man receiving a vaccination for Covid-19. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

NHS Highland is making progress with its vaccination programme but what is it like to get the jab? Highlands News and Media reporter Neil MacPhail has just been given his shot in the arm. Here are his thoughts...

ON the morning of Burns Day, the BBC was excitedly telling the nation that Scotland’s over-70s citizens were to receive “blue envelope” letters inviting them to have anti-Covid injections, and only the other day the radio declared that the 70-79 age group jags were starting.

This struck me as strange because I knew that medics at my doctors had given a 77-year-old friend his first Pfizer inoculation around two weeks ago and last Saturday I received my jag at the same surgery as part of the 70-74 age group.

It transpires that many GP surgeries in Inverness and the north have quietly been working through their lists giving the 70-80-year-old age group their jags, having completed the over-80s.

I know that the first jag would not necessarily stop me catching Covid-19 – with its 52 per cent efficacy – or being a carrier, but I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders.

I was on a vaccination programme that, hopefully after the second jag, would increase effectiveness to more than 90 per cent and could also lessen the worst effects if I had the misfortune to still catch Covid.

But more than that, I was surprised at how positive this jag made me feel.

Through the help of the amazing scientists who received the billions in funding to produce vaccines in record times, the wonderful NHS and the highly organised team at Cairn GPs, I felt there could be an end in sight in the global fight against this horrendous plague.

All being well, the vaccine inside me is hard at work, retraining my immune system to battle the virus.

I realise all the current anti-Covid protocols for social distancing, mask wearing and staying at home will continue for some time, but I can understand why some medical experts fear that receiving the vaccine might tempt some people to let their guard down against the virus too soon, and undo the good work.

Neil MacPhail.
Neil MacPhail.

Having the injection was plain sailing thanks to an efficient system at the busy surgery, which has 10 doctors, an advanced nurse practitioner, two nurses, and two health care assistants caring for around 9600 patients.

This surgery had gained vital experience from previously running special flu jag days.

I was escorted into a doctor’s room where my medical information was on the computer screen.

The doctor told me I was receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and checked that I had never experienced allergic reactions to medications and was not on blood thinners.

After the painless injection, I was told to wait inside the surgery for 15 minutes in case of any sudden reaction to the vaccine. I did and soon after I was on the way home with a celebratory Chinese takeaway.

Now I’ll look forward to my second vaccine dose, scheduled for 10 weeks later, on April 10.

NHS Highland public health chief: 'I urge everyone offered it to take the vaccine'

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