Emma's story: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

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The roll out of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines brings hope for the cystic fibrosis (CF) community, and the wider world. However, it's understandable to have some questions and reservations. Health worker Emma, aged 22, is one of the first people with CF in the UK to get her vaccine, and shares her story of why she recommends getting it.

Young white woman wearing a facemask, scrubs and NHS lanyard

How has the past year been for you?

Like everyone else who has CF, I had to shield from mid-February to August, before going back to work until November. I had to re-shield when the COVID cases began to rise again in January 2021.

I found shielding tough – my mental health really took a turn for the worst. I was so scared when I went outside, even just to walk my dog, that I would catch the virus. It felt like my life was put on hold and it was all out of control. I craved normality so much.

How did you get an appointment for the vaccine?

Because I work in the NHS, I’m now eligible to have a COVID-19 vaccine. I realise I’m one of the first people with CF in the UK to get the vaccine so I really want to share with other people with CF what it was like, and why you definitely should get the vaccine when you receive your letter or email with an appointment.

When I received an email informing me that the vaccine was available, I called the number given to me to book my appointment – they booked me in for the next morning at 8am and it was that simple! I was so excited that I started crying on the phone because I knew it was the first step to getting my life back.

What was it like on the day?

I walked into the building and was greeted by a nurse who checked my name off a list and gave me a consent form and an information leaflet to sign. In the waiting room, there were only five people and we were all physically spread out with a big distance from each other.

I then went to the vaccination room that I had been assigned where two nurses introduced themselves and asked me a few screening questions, like if I was pregnant, was I breastfeeding or if I have ever had a severe reaction to any vaccine before?

They then checked the batch number and expiration date of the vaccine, wiped my skin and injected it into the top of my left arm. Into the muscle just like with any vaccine jab! I had the Pfizer vaccine as at the time the Oxford vaccine had not yet become available for use.

I then went back into the waiting room for 15 minutes or so to make sure that I felt fine but I was okay, so I went home.

How did you feel the day after?

The nurses had explained what I should expect in the next 24 hours – I had an achy arm and felt a little run down but after a day I was back to normal and felt much better.

It’s similar to the flu jab so I wasn’t nervous at all.

What would you say to anyone with cystic fibrosis concerned about having the vaccine?

I think it’s so important to get the vaccine when you are called to get it! For me, it’s the first step to getting your life back and it’s the most important vaccine I have ever had. Just knowing that we can start getting back to ‘normal’ soon is incredible!

I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s suddenly not all doom and gloom.

For more on the COVID-19 vaccine and CF, visit our FAQs to access the latest information.

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