It’s happened! I’ve had the vaccine! And I just wanted to write a little bit about how much anxiety I felt, how that is completely understandable and you should not beat yourself up about feeling scared, and finally, how for me, my story was easy, simple and I had no complications. Here’s my advice.
Speak to your GP
I phoned my doctor when I got my invitation for the Covid-19 vaccine and we discussed the risks. They are really pretty minimal, but as anyone with anaphylaxis knows, we live with the very real fear of a pretty rare occurrence looming over us so that doesn’t always allay our fears. However I found out I was due to have the AstraZeneca Oxford jab, which is thought to have caused less anaphylactic or allergic reactions.
The only risk to me was possible latex, but on the day, the person giving me my vaccine didn’t wear any gloves at all. The hygiene and safety procedures were impressive. I knew they had trained first aiders on the premises and as my own precaution, and as we were having a celebratory coffee after my vaccination, I took my own adrenaline auto-injectors too. Better to be safe than sorry.
Try to remain calm on vaccine day
On the day of my vaccine I had planned a nice quiet day. A bit of work, easy jobs that wouldn’t stress me out. I did a mindfulness meditation, but then, just by chance I had to have a long conversation about my previous anaphylactic reactions and the psychological effects of them on my mental state. When I say long, it was a hour long conversation! In hindsight this was bad planning, but it didn’t really sink in until after the call, with a few hours remaining until the jab, that my heart was racing. I was feeling very anxious and a panic attack was just around the corner.
I told myself all those things we repeat to ourselves when we feel anxious.
- I have spoken to my GP and local surgery. They are confident the vaccine will be safe.
- Professionals, scientist, the NHS and everyone I know pretty much sees this vaccine as safe, necessary and lesser of the evils as no one wants to contract covid.
- Anaphylactic reactions are very rare.
- I know lots of people who have had the vaccine and all of them have been fine.
- I know people who are at risk of anaphylaxis just like me who have had the vaccine and all have been absolutely fine.
- I am 100% successful at recovering anaphylaxis should it happen.
- I know what to do if it does happen.
- But the chances are, that it won’t happen.
- You will be safe. You will be fine. You will be protected. This is the right thing to do.
- And so on…
Thank you to Lindi (@TheAllergyTable) who I had a long chat with me on the morning of my vaccine. She’s had hers and it really helped take my mind of things. We did talk about her vaccine experience a little, we then went on to talk about so many more things, our plans, our blogs, allergy awareness, our dreams… we had a lovely conversation.
My mum was also going with me just in case! So what was there to worry about right?
Until the minute you sit down to have the vaccine and they ask you…
“Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction and do you carry an EpiPen for this?” Erm… yes, yes I have and yes I do!
Immediately I’m thinking AGAIN about anaphylaxis.
“Have you ever had a reaction to a vaccine before?” No, No I have not.
Good. Good answer. But it put me right back there on planet anxiety. I think the lady giving me my jab recognised I was nervous. I told her I had my adrenaline and was a little scared and then proceeded to babble away like a lunatic.
The vaccine was administered swiftly, smoothly and painlessly, before I even realised what was happening.
The whole thing took less than 3 minutes and I got a sticker for my good behaviour and for being a brave girl. No one else seemed to have been given a sticker so I was quite proud too. Oh those tiny little things still please me. Big kid FOREVER!
After that I sat in the other waiting room with the other people who just needed to take that added precaution. There were a few of us. Most people walked straight out. And then me and Mum had a lovely coffee from our local cafe, Williams and drank it sitting on the local common watching the world go by.
I survived the Covid-19 Vaccine and have the sticker to prove it! I have only a slight sensation on my arm letting me know I’ve had the injection, but it’s not painful.
I was ashamed of my flakiness
Ridiculous I know. I want to be out and proud. I want to bare my skin and not care. But deep down I do care. And since lockdown I’ve been out so infrequently and only seen a handful of people I’ve lost that inner strength and the quick, smart answers I have when anyone comments. I try not to mind as 99.9% of people are not being unkind, they are just interested, they mostly do care and want to understand.
But I just did not want the nurse to say, oh your skin looks bad. I just wasn’t in that place.
But of course she was a consummate professional. I think she was just a volunteer actually. As soon as I went into that room I just forgot about my skin. She didn’t mention it, nor did she seem to stare. She just got on with the job in hand. I shed some flakes on the floor when I had to remove my top and it didn’t matter.
Why do we tell us we are less worthy? That we should hide our skin away? That we should be ashamed? Because most of the time, no one is looking at you! No one is even aware. They are just getting on with what they’re doing.
Would it trigger a skin flare?
I know you shouldn’t read Dr Google, but I was also frightened it might trigger a flare of my skin. I don’t know why I thought this but I am now very sensitive about what I put into and onto my body. So volunteering to have some random bunch of unknown chemicals injected into me was a worry. I checked there were no steroids in the vaccine and also that none of my allergens were present but what might this concoction do to my skin?
Guys. It did nothing. If anything I slept really well. I don’t sleep well so perhaps it was the relief that it all went well. Who knows. But I was scared it would do something to my skin. And then I realised, I flare all the time. It’s part of TSW. So even if I had flared, could I attribute it to anything?
If anything my skin was better this morning… but I’ve been slowly coming out of a 2-3 month flare up from TSW HELL so who knows. I’m still flaking for England but I think the flakes are smaller. My skin is paler, less inflamed and red, and my face and arms are less swollen.
When you go through TSW and in fact if you have eczema, anything can make you flare. And then possible it’s just happening for no reason at all. But we want to find a reason. We want answers.
When I drink alcohol, sometimes I flare.
When I don’t drink alcohol for weeks, I still flare.
My skin flares with such regular monotony and such reliable relentlessness that nothing is certain except the unforseen.
So I’ll leave with this statement. I think it comes from the bible.
Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow with take care of itself.
Easy to say. But not easy to live by. Just wanted to put your minds at rest if I can. I was OK so hopefully you will be too.
Have you had your vaccine yet? Any side effects? So far I’ve not even had a sore arm, although that might come on later. I had my vaccine at 4.13pm (exactly) on Thursday 18th March. And nothing bad happened.
I also feel an immense sense of relief now. I know I still need to remain vigilant. I know I could still catch covid but it goes a long way to protecting me and should prevent a very serious illness.
I did a lot of research into this vaccine to help me put my mind at rest. Please read: Allergic reactions to Covid Vaccinations
The Anaphylaxis Campaign have pulled together some resources here: Covid-19 Vaccines and allergies
Allergies in Bold, blogger Thalina has also produced an article and video along with a Dr Jamie Parker to explain Covid Vaccine and Anaphylaxis – The Facts