So … I had the Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine Yesterday
Yesterday I had my first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and , because I’d spent the previous week debating with conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxers about it, decided to show my trust of the science behind it by posting the fact on my Facebook wall. This appears to have generated a lot of interest, with a few contacts saying they either wanted an update soon or that I was dead .
Well, the good news is that it’s been over 24 hours and, at the time of writing this post, I’m still alive by any standard definition of the word. I have checked my temperature and it is a healthy 36.4 degrees Celsius. It appears that I am still to experience any major effects but, so far, the only adverse effect I can report is some soreness at the injection site. The soreness is a standard side effect of vaccinations since the needle potentially breaks a few muscle fibres as it goes in.
The vaccination experience
Normally when you go to your GP for a vaccination, you enjoy the privacy of a single consultation with the GP. The arrangements for the Covid-19 are different. For a start, the vaccination is done in a big room with pre- and post-vaccination waiting areas comprising socially-distanced chairs. You naturally need to be wearing a face covering both to gain acceptance and throughout the process.
In my case the vaccinations were being undertaken at a community centre converted to a Covid-19 vaccination hub. The vaccines were administered behind a screen to preserve modesty; but there was adequate circulation of air overall for the number of people in both the waiting area and the post-vaccination observation area.
The process involves checking in, getting some demographic data recorded and then going through a number of pre-vaccination screening questions. These are designed to prevent inappropriate administration of the vaccine to those for whom it is not suitable. These include people with previous serious reactions to vaccinations (anaphylaxis), pregnancy, breastfeeding and other conditions. The current known list is available here.
You are also provided with an information leaflet on the vaccine as well as a government leaflet that contains the information on this page. It is important that you read both so that you can provide full informed consent to the vaccine. Verbal consent is all that is required.
Once your suitability for vaccination and your consent to receive it have been established, you are given the vaccine and asked to wait in the waiting area for a minimum of 15 minutes, in case of anaphylaxis or fainting, before going home. You are also given a date and time for your second and final dose.
Personal Views and Clarifications
I found the experience surprisingly pleasant. There was a relaxed, cheerful environment. There was a healthy rapport between doctors, pharmacists, receptionists and various support staff providing the service. I had an interesting conversation with the GP who administered the vaccine, during which she revealed that she had herself been part of a clinical trial for one of the vaccines under development for Covid-19.
It is important to clarify that getting the vaccine is entirely voluntary under U.K. law, even for health professionals. It is against the law to administer treatment to an adult with full mental capacity against their will in the U.K. This is enshrined in the law under the Mental Capacity Act (2005).
Where individuals are deemed to lack mental capacity by reason of illness or mental deterioration, any actions that are taken have to meet Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. If you are interested in the specific application of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards within the context of Covid-19 and vaccines for it, please click on this link.
A second clarification is also worth mentioning. The Pfizer vaccine does not currently have a full marketing authorisation. It has an emergency use authorisation granted on the basis of the urgency for a vaccine in the context of the pandemic. This means that we do not need to wait for up to ten years for full data to be gathered about the vaccine and its long-term effects. At its current rate of spread and lethality, governments are taking the ethical view that loosing millions of lives over a period of ten years is unconscionable when the rapid review processes that the vaccines are undergoing are already subject to very high quality and review standards.
It therefore remains up to individuals to decide whether to continue playing Russian roulette with the vaccine through existing preventative measures or to get the vaccine.