A brave new world: how vaccinations are giving neighbours hope

Going to the doctors can be daunting for anyone. This is even more apparent at the moment, with pop up vaccination sites, COVID-19 testing centres and GP surgeries joining together to cover larger neighbourhoods and areas. It can feel difficult to navigate or know who to turn to. Of course, a big topic of discussion is getting your COVID-19 vaccination.

We asked a number of our neighbours from across The Cares Family to talk about their experience of receiving the vaccine.

Josie (83) from Hackney, East London, and a participant at East London Cares, was the first person in her borough to receive the vaccine. Cheers erupted from the surgery when Josie received her first jab, and we asked her about how she felt beforehand:

Being amongst the first groups of people to receive it, did you feel nervous about getting the vaccine?

“No, I said from the very beginning I would take it. I had no qualms whatsoever and I’m not squeamish either. I stuck to my word, and when I got the text message about it, someone took me over to the vaccination centre, and quite a few people were there but it was very well-organised. Because I was so early having my vaccine, I had both [jabs] within three weeks. I had the same doctor for both of my vaccinations. It did feel nice to have the same doctor both times, but it wouldn’t have mattered, they were all fantastic.”

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Martha* (69) from Manchester is a keen attendee at Manchester Cares’ Social Clubs. Liz’s neighbours can’t wait to see her again in person, and we spoke to her about her vaccination experience and how she felt afterwards.

How was the process on the day? Did someone go with you or did you go alone?

“I went on my own and I found the process like a well-oiled machine, running very smoothly. It was extremely well-organised, and I was made to feel very relaxed, in a comfortable and friendly environment, which was outstanding considering the numbers being dealt with...”

How did you feel in the day or two after the vaccine? Lots of people have said about an achy arm, but this is normal after any vaccine.

“The only after-effects I had after the vaccination, was a sore arm and a feeling of being very tired which subsided after the second day...”

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Jessie* (73) is from South London Cares and had a slightly different experience. She received her vaccination at home and was kindly visited by her GP who brought a ‘portable freezer thingy’ to administer her vaccine. We asked how she felt afterwards and what she was looking forward to.

How do you feel since having the vaccine? Has it given you a sense of hope?

“I’ve felt more positive. Especially as there was this thought or promise that we would vaccinate 13 million people. I wasn’t convinced that would happen and they’ve achieved it. It sort of helped to see that so many people had already had it, that confirmed to me that I was on the right track. Nothing bad had happened. Now we see that the number of deaths and the number of people who are infected has really plummeted. It just proves that something good is happening. I hope that all the people who are offered the vaccine take it and we will all be better in the long run.’’

We know that something new can be scary. We hope that reading about different people’s experiences will show you that you’re not alone. We are all in this together.

People of colour in our communities may be especially hesitant about the vaccine. In order for us to all be safe these very real concerns need to be recognised. Spark & Co have also created some brilliant resources to address the history of vaccine hesitation amongst People of Colour as well as a COVID-19 vaccine factsheet.

If you’d like to read more, you can head to this page on the NHS website. If you have any questions or concerns about getting the vaccine, we would recommend that you give your GP a call. You will be able to discuss your options, worries and make sure your contact details are up to date.

*names anonymised to protect personal information.

Amy Saunders

Posted by Amy Saunders on Friday 19th February 2021

Amy is the Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator at Manchester Cares, so leads on welcoming older and younger neighbours into the charity and onto their programmes.