Tony's wife, Sheila, has Alzheimer's disease and lives in a care home. He shares his experience of receiving his first dose of the coronavirus vaccination, and a new poem called The Jab.
Wednesday, 30 December 2020, 10:47am, just back from walking my dog, and, out of the blue, a life-changing phone call.
'This is the Victoria Medical Centre, am I speaking to Anthony Ward?' A full name, address and date of birth check followed, with me becoming increasingly puzzled.
'Would you like to have a COVID-19 vaccination?' Would I indeed!
'Fine, can you attend tomorrow (New Year’s Eve) at 10:45am? It will be at our Covid Vaccination Clinic inside The Beacon, in Eastbourne.'
Visiting the Medical Centre
The Victoria Medical Centre, a large GP practice, was formed in 2020 by the merger of three smaller practices. I was fortunate in being a patient of one of these.
The Clinic had been set up before Christmas in an adjoining pair of shop units, one of only a few nationally to open in a shopping centre. It was the first vaccination hub in Sussex.
The Covid Vaccination Clinic inside The Beacon - Photo: Eastbourne Herald
They wasted no time in speeding through their list of around 30,000 highest-risk people in Eastbourne, which they hope to have completed within 12 weeks.
Being in the third group down (75+ years of age), I wasn’t expecting to get my vaccination until at least the start of February!
All appointments were timed and the whole system ran like clockwork. There were six vaccinators plus numerous support staff.
I was in and out within 25 minutes, including the 15-minute wait in the adjoining unit, in case of immediate side-effects.
I was also given my proof of vaccination card and accompanying literature for my ‘Pfizer BioNtech Covid-19 mRNA Vaccine’.
The second dose should have been given in 21 days, but that morning the Clinic had received the Government directive that second doses would be delayed by up to three months to make stocks go further. However, the Pfizer BioNtech Vaccine reaches 90 per cent effectiveness within two or three weeks.
I have ringed the latter date (21 January 2021) on my Calendar. Even with a single dose, should I be unlucky enough to be infected, I was encouraged to hear that my condition should not require hospitalisation.
I can now look forward in the hope that, once lockdown is lifted and the virus under control, I will be seeing Sheila again.
It inspired me to write the following short poem. This time, in a nod to William Shakespeare, I have borrowed his favourite verse form, Iambic Pentameter, to write ‘a proper poem’.
At the height of the bubonic plague in 1592-93 Shakespeare was himself in partial lockdown in London, theatres closed. There was no vaccine to come to the rescue, one quarter of the population of the city died. It is likely that, during this time, he too would have foregone visiting his wife (Anne Hathaway) and children, back home in Stratford-upon-Avon.
by Tony Ward
The call, next day – The Beacon, mask in place,
Allotted time, no queue, checked in, next space –
“In left, or right? Expose your upper arm”
The jab. Three weeks to wait, then free from harm.
The day draws nearer now, I see it clear,
That day will come, when Covid-free, no fear.
We’ll meet again, a hug, a cup of tea,
No screen, no PPE, just you and me.
Tony sitting beside Sheila in her care home during their first reunion since the pandemic began, back in December.