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One year on, the jab is in and I'm feeling stronger and safer, says editor Barry Peters

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Cast your minds back to March 2020. Dark, worrying days with only a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

We can look back now with a sense of optimism, but those first days of the pandemic will be hard to forget.

Fast forward a year and the 56-59 year olds in this little corner of West Suffolk are being called for jabs. And on Saturday, that meant me.

Editor Barry Peters getting his first Covid-19 vaccination jab, administered by Brian Ainsworth Picture by Mecha Morton (45110891)
Editor Barry Peters getting his first Covid-19 vaccination jab, administered by Brian Ainsworth Picture by Mecha Morton (45110891)

I signed up willingly for my AstraZeneca dose - the longing for science to solve the Covid puzzle and beat this pandemic finally coming to a happy conclusion for me - and hundreds of others seemingly.

Three quarters of Suffolk people who have had their first Covid-19 vaccine have reported a positive experience, according to latest survey data.

Healthwatch Suffolk presented figures from its vaccination survey to Thursday morning’s Health and Wellbeing Board meeting, which indicated 75% of 699 respondents reported a positive experience, 13% a negative experience and 12% had mixed feelings.

Barry's Covid jab passport
Barry's Covid jab passport

The county’s clinical commissioning groups have also carried out their own survey with more than 3,000 people, with results so far on that understood to be similar to those reported by Healthwatch Suffolk. Among the top positive comments were vaccination centres being well organised, the work of staff and volunteers at those sites, short waiting times on arrival, clear explanations of the process, centres being Covid-secure and ease of use for the online booking system.

I popped along early to Mount Farm Surgery on Moreton Hall. There was a queue of 10 or so people outside and we filed in safely very quickly. Credentials were checked, hands sanitised, everyone was masked and I handed in my form. I was in the vaccination room with Brian Ainsworth within a matter of minutes. It was all very efficient, professional and well organised.

Brian explained what was happening, checked through my personal health details and my Covid history (none thankfully) and then aimed for the top of my left arm with the AZ needle. No pain, nothing.

A coranavirus molecule under the microscope
A coranavirus molecule under the microscope

He went on to explain possible side-effects, warned about not driving for a short period and then said that he and five other vaccinators at the surgery were administering doses as they received stocks at the rate of 15 an hour each. That's some turnaround - one every four minutes - and shows why 23 million UK residents have had their first dose already along with 1.2 million getting their second jab.

Doing my research, the British Medical Journal told me: “Both the Pfizer BioNTech and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing Covid-19 infections and protecting against severe disease in older adults, preliminary data show.”

I’ve been hugely fortunate, as has my family, that no loved ones have fallen to the ravages of Covid.

I’ve read the conspiracy theories and discounted those. I’ve read other reasons for not being vaccinated.

But I can’t get away from the nurses, doctors, porters, care home staff, emergency service workers, those working in retail and others who have had to put themselves at risk for a whole year and I was happy to have the jab for them alone.

I’d urge you to do the same and help to save lives.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here.

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