You don’t have to answer the question. I only pose it here because last Friday (29 janvier), after weeks of deliberation on my part, I agreed to have the vaccine.
As a health care worker I’m among the first in line to be offered it. And my main dilemma was: fear of importing a still largely unknown substance into my body VS the high risks of catching Covid-19 through my work. In the end, the latter won out.
So, come Friday, I was nervous but determined to get jabbed. A team of external doctors and nurses came in to administer the vaccine to approx 90% of consenting residents and approx 40% of consenting staff – a small staff percentage there, and for those who I spoke to who declined to have it the reasons ranged from ‘fear’ to ‘allergic to vaccines’ to ‘I’ll let my body fight it out naturally if need be’. Good reasons, and some that I also shared. For those who did accept, I was surprised by the age group; from early twenties to late fifties. Somehow I was expecting only the older staff to agree.
Before the jab, you had to:
- Complete a simple medical questionnaire related to any previous vaccines and allergies.
- Undergo some standard medical checks like blood pressure and temperature.
- Then came the jab. Painless. Quick. A shot of first-dose Pfizer-BioNTech into the muscle of the upper arm.
- After was a fifteen minute observation by a nurse to ensure no immediate adverse reactions.
- Then you were ‘set free’ 🙂
I’d researched some of the common side effects:
- muscle pain
- joint pain
- injection site swelling
- injection site redness
- feeling unwell
- swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
And the less common + allergic reactions:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of your face and throat
- A fast heartbeat
- A bad rash all over your body
- Dizziness and weakness
So how did the vaccine go for me?
In all honesty, I’d began the day absolutely knackered and with a slight headache (it was my third 13 hour shift), and weirdly I found the shot made me somewhat hyper and then shortly after vanished my headache. Weird. Oui. But that’s just me I guess. I’m weird. My colleagues reported nothing. One was a bit tired. One was very thirsty. And out of all the residents only one was ill later that afternoon. Other than that, by the end of the Friday shift at 8pm everyone was fine.
However, the next day, Saturday…
Ouch. A magnificent headache. But not like any I’d experienced before. This was like someone had tied your brain up in a sack and was pulling on it by a drawstring. Not painful as such, more a pressure, and it kept coming and going. Then there was a big tiredness – more so than normal after coming off the back of three shifts. By the evening, the corner of my right eye had swollen and looked bruised. No pain or irritation. It just looked like someone had punched me. Weird. I reported the bruised eye to the Pfizer website as they have a section for uncommon reactions, and will again report it to my superiors when I return to work Monday.
The eye has gone down to almost normal. No headache or pressure. But still a bit tired. Hopefully I’ll be more energized when I go back, and it will be interesting to see how my colleagues and residents held up over the weekend.
- Despite some side effects I’m glad I’ve had it. The 1st dose is done now. Fin.
- For the second dose, Pfizer recommends a gap of 3 weeks. In France they have moved the goalposts to 6 weeks.
Maybe the vaccine will help me, maybe not. Maybe if I catch Covid-19 the symptoms won’t be as bad as my body is now currently learning to recognise it and remember it for future combat.
Since our positive cases outbreak in October and November last year, our medical retirement home has stayed free from new cases. Good. However, we do have one case but this is from a new resident who joined last week and has since tested positive. Staff and residents were tested at the same time and came back negative (for me, my 19th test now – I’m sad, I count them).
I largely support the French government’s response to the pandemic, but not the 6pm to 6am curfew which has just been extended. Closing down food outlets at 6pm forces everyone to rush to the shop after work, or go on a Saturday. If you could see some of the photos on our news here of traffic jams and crowds of people crammed into supermarkets on a Saturday you would become angry. It’s like high summer tourist season! I had to go out on my lunchbreak last week to get some essential food because all the food shops are closed at 6 and I finish at 8. Many people believe that this crowding of people at lunchtimes and on Saturdays only makes the risk of infection higher, when the govt. could allow later opening hours with sensible distancing measures in place. But sometimes, there is just no sense.
Regular readers will know one of my themes is to stay upbeat and offer a little ‘Pandemic Gallows Humour’ to help take the edge off things. Am I upbeat right now? Yes! Of course (just a bit tired this weekend, Doc, that’s all).
Upbeat terrace gardening
Today was sunny and warm 😊 I trimmed back some plants on my terrace, swept up dead leaves, watered, a bit of cleaning. Ah, nothing like a spot of Sunday gardening before coming back indoors to my loving family.
When we had our positive cases at work last year, I decompressed by archiving music for a psychedelic hard rock band I played with in the mid-90s, after discovering a bunch of old cassettes we recorded live on. Here is some more Zig Yell Seed – comin’ atcha, live, in the house, ‘n….
Another popular English expression heard among my French colleagues (like “What the fuck!” and “Good job”) is…
So, let’s go, vintage mates, go, go! And let’s stay safe and healthy out there everyone!
Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given. Some of the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages