Two years ago, a new thing called “coronavirus” was appearing in the news. One by one, all in-person events got cancelled. Sometimes to be replaced with virtual alternatives, sometimes with the promise that they would return when able. I remember a particularly depressing day when I went through my calendar and deleted pretty much all future events.
This week though, I’ve been filling up my calendar again with the events and activities that I want to do this year. Some of them I’ve booked, some of them are just tentative. Some of them I’ll do, some of them won’t fit in with other plans.
Either way, it feels really good to be able to plan ahead and to have things to look forward to.
Last week I got my second pfizer jab. I booked them both as soon as I was eligible to do so, with the second around 11 and a half weeks after the first one. The only location listed when I booked was a hospital about 7 miles away. According to a friend, there were more possible locations if you clicked cancel and then reloaded, but anyway I had booked and didn’t want to change it. However, when they started to recommend second jabs at 8 weeks (rather than 12 weeks), I looked to see if I could change the location of my second jab. Which I did, with my second jab at my local council’s Civic Hall.
I thought I’d do a comparison of the two experiences:
First jab: NHS hospital COVID vaccination centre
Second jab: Council COVID vaccination centre
I arrived about 10-15 minutes before my appointment because that’s what times the trains were and I didn’t know exactly where I was going. The signs said don’t arrive more than 5 minutes before your appointment, so I sat outside and checked my phone for a bit before wandering up to the security guard who just waved me through to the single reception desk.
I arrived about 10-15 minutes before my appointment because I walked there and I didn’t know exactly where I was going. The signs said appointments only. There were a couple of people sat outside but I just went in anyway. I told the volunteer in the jacket that I had an appointment but they just waved me through and told me to follow the arrows.
After following several arrows and corridors to the main hall, the man on the door asked me if I had my card from my first jab. He then pointed out that it couldn’t have been five months since my first jab and that they must have written it down wrong. He then told me to go to the third reception desk (out of three).
The woman on the reception desk took my details. She gave me a load of paperwork which I wouldn’t have time to read and then told me to follow the long corridor round. There was no-one else around and despite the woman calling “next” there was no-one behind me.
The woman on the reception desk took my details and then pointed out that it couldn’t have been five months since my first jab. I commented that they must have written it down wrong. She gave me a load of paperwork which I wouldn’t have time to read and then told me to go to the next set of desks.
The woman on the next desk took my details and asked a few questions about whether I had any allergies and such things. She pointed out that it couldn’t have been five months since my first jab. I commented that they must have written it down wrong. The woman corrected my card and told me to join the queue that was behind her.
I got to the end of the corridor without seeing a single other person waiting to be jabbed. I was then directed to one of the nine pods that they were using.
A man directed me to join the queue of about 12 people before directing me to one of the three pods that they were using.
The man in the pod said “you must be Adrian” and then checked a few details and asked if I had any allergies and such things. I was then jabbed and he filled in my vaccination card and a piece of paper with a time on it and told me to follow the next corridor round to the waiting room.
The woman in the pod checked a few details whilst the man in the pod did something on the computer. I was then jabbed by the woman, and the man filled in my vaccination card and I was told to move into the waiting area behind.
I was told to take any seat in the waiting area until the time on my piece of paper. I was then free to depart, leaving my piece of paper with the time on on the chair so they knew it had been used and needed cleaning. I left as soon as my fifteen minutes were up.
I took any seat in the waiting area before being told there was a system and got moved to a specific chair. As the last person in the row, my time defined when the rest of the row could leave. I was allowed to leave as soon as my fifteen minutes were up. Everyone else in the row also had to wait until my fifteen minutes were up.
I got the train home. About 2-3 hours later, my arm started to feel a bit sore. The next morning it was very stiff, but by about 24 hours after the jab it was all back to normal.
I walked home. About 2-3 hours later, my arm started to feel a bit sore. The next morning it was very stiff, but by about 24 hours after the jab it was all back to normal.
If I had to do a third jab, I’d probably go back to the hospital, even though it’s further away. Although that may just be because it wasn’t as busy. That’s a question to ponder for another day (if it ever happens).
Last week I described how I was forced into self-isolation. Today I look back at the experience…
And really there’s actually not much to talk about. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, but I’m aware that I only had to do it for 8 and a bit days.
I did have a mild cough for a few days, but I got tested and that came back negative, so I definitely didn’t have COVID last Monday at 1pm. It’s possible I developed it at another point in the week but remained symptomless, or I just never caught anything in the first place. Either way, there was no reason to extend my self-isolation beyond the initial period.
If I had known it was coming I’d have stocked up on food beforehand, but I did already have enough for a few days. I did get some food (and a couple of other things) delivered during the week, so that all worked out for me not to have to leave my house.
And I’m probably introverted enough that I didn’t mind not seeing any real people for 9 days, although I did have various (work and personal) phone calls/text chats/video chats throughout the time so I wasn’t completely disconnected.
And I was planning to work from home all last week anyway, so it was actually quite fortuitous. If it had been this week, it would have been much more awkward to work from home. So that worked out.
The only thing I did miss was being able to go outside to exercise. I normally go running every couple of days, and this along with my walk to work normally brings me up to the target 10,000 steps. However, being stuck at home my step count rarely got above 500 (if I even bothered to wear my watch). And having not done any exercise, I found my body wasn’t tired at bedtime so it was harder to sleep (much to my brain’s annoyance).
But that was my only real issue with having to self-isolate. But I do hope that I don’t need to do it again.
I was travelling home from work last Thursday evening, when a notification from the NHS COVID-19 app alert popped up on my phone:
According to the information, I had come into contact with someone who had coronavirus last Saturday (i.e. five days earlier) and now had to self-isolate for the next nine days. The app registers contact at either less than 2 metres distance for at least 15 minutes, or less than 1 metre distance for at least 1 minute. So it should be easy to work out?
Last Saturday, I was in the office (and was the only person there) so I definitely didn’t pick up anything there. It could have been in the pizza place that evening (but I was the only customer and wasn’t there for long). So it was most likely on my way into or back from the office.
The journey into the office on Saturday wasn’t very exciting, and it could have easily been then as my train journey is over the 15 minute criterion. The train wasn’t particularly busy, but I could have been sat within 2 metres of someone.
The way back home was more exciting (although of course that doesn’t make it more likely) as I had to go via London Bridge. I had timed it badly for the train from Charing Cross station, so decided to walk over to Waterloo East and catch the next train from there.
That was possibly a mistake because the South Bank was crowded as it seemed to be the only central London location that was serving food or drink. There were hundreds of people stood around and definitely not social distancing. But I was just walking through, so even though I may have had to come fairly close to some people, it would have been for way less than the requisite 1 minute period.
Having also timed it really badly for Waterloo East station, I then decided I may as well just walk to London Bridge. I took the back streets for this which were much quieter. I would have easily been social distancing for this walk, so it’s unlikely I would have triggered the app in this part of the journey either.
I then had to wait around on the platform for about 5 minutes before the train. This would have met the 1 minute time period, but I was social distancing so that wouldn’t have been it. But then I was on the train for longer than 15 minutes. It wasn’t particularly busy, and I don’t think I was sat less than 2 metres from anyone. So I don’t think that was it either, but again, it could have been.
So I’m not sure at what point I broke the 1 metre 1 minute/2 metres 15 minute rule. But maybe at some point that day I did. At least the app thinks so anyway. Only another three days to go now anyway…