First Oxford-AstraZeneca jab left Sheffield Star journalist 'feeling awful' - but this is why she will definitely be going back for her second dose

I’ve been to Sheffield Arena many times to review all sorts of shows – I was lucky enough to see Pulp's farewell performance but I’ve also seen Boy George, The Who, War of the Worlds, Cirque du Soleil, comedy gigs, even opera...

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 2:39 pm

But without doubt the best gig I’ve ever been to at the Arena was my Covid-19 vaccination a couple of weeks ago.

The whole event was brilliantly organised and coordinated by a team of NHS workers and volunteers.

When I logged on to the NHS website to book, it was like trying to get tickets for your favourite band – I had to try four or five times before I got both dates confirmed.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Check-in desks at the Sheffield Arena vaccination centre

On the day, the car park staff were on hand in their familiar yellow jackets. They checked my appointment time – don’t arrive early or you’ll be asked to wait – pointed out where to park and told me to join the queue.

Staff gave me a medical mask, rather than my cotton one, and a squirt of hand sanitiser.

I told the woman who checked me in that I was excited. She looked surprised: “What, because it’s a day out?” she joked.

Julia Armstrong.

But it’s way more than that – a chance to potentially start moving on from a life cut off from people and things you love, working from home, worrying about getting ill, hearing sad news about friends, terrible numbers on the news, feeling angry at every bit of Tory fumbling.

I have asthma so I’ve done a lot of online shopping, been careful to socially distance, worn a mask more often, washed my hands endlessly and not hugged anyone for a year.

I want to get my life back a bit but I also want to protect those around me, friends recovering from cancer or with chronic health issues – or just strangers.

So I was thrilled to be ushered through to a row of cubicles – in the middle of the main arena! That felt really special.

A Covid-19 mass vaccination centre has opened at Sheffield Arena

A few more questions, a quick needle in the arm that I hardly felt while chatting with the staff – one turned out to be a freelance theatre journalist. We talked briefly about how we’d both enjoyed the Crucible’s online show The Band Plays On, then it was out through the box office to sit in my car for 15 minutes in case of a reaction to the jab.

I felt fine, so I met a mate in the park to compare notes – she got hers through her GP surgery.

Everything was fine until 4am the next morning, when I started to feel poorly, and felt awful for about 30 hours.

A nurse prepares a vaccination at Sheffield Arena

But if that’s how bad I felt as my antibodies kicked in, I was even happier I’d had the jab. It was the Astra Zeneca one and of course the news about blood clots is worrying.

I’ve done a lot of online research into the vaccine trials and watched briefings by the independent Sage scientists.

I feel the risk to my health of getting coronavirus far outweighs the risk of the jab, so I won’t hesitate to go back to the Arena in June.

Thanks to every single person who made that possible. I’d hug you all if I could.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor