Here is what happened when I had my Covid-19 vaccination at Sheffield Arena
On the coldest evening of the year, I ventured out for my first dose of the Covid vaccine.
And mixed up in all that potent chemistry was a big dollop of hope and optimism.
I’ve spent a large chunk of this past year shielding so when I received a letter asking me to book my jab, it was the most excitement I’d had in months.
I was asked to log on to a website where I was given one option – Sheffield Arena. I’ve spoken to friends who have had the jab and it does seem quite random where you will be sent. A friend in Wadsley is going to the Northern General, a colleague in Hillsborough was sent to Stannington and another friend in Walkley is going to Crosspool.
When I booked my vaccine, I was asked to book my second one at the same time so I’ll be back at the Arena again at the end of April.
On arrival there were two stewards checking appointments and directing us to the car park with about 30 other cars.
At the main entrance, I was asked to sanitise my hands and take a new mask if the one I was wearing wasn’t fresh. You’re asked to go inside alone if possible.
Then it was through to a bank of desks with plastic screens where I gave my booking details. Instead of a concert ticket, I was handed a slip of paper and directed onto the floor of the Arena.
There are signs asking you not to take photos or videos to protect other people’s privacy so leave the selfie for outside.
Every step of the way, someone helpfully directed me and I reached a cubicle where I was introduced to the “admin man” and the “vaccine man”.
Normally at this point you have a smile and maybe a reassuring hand to hold but masks do make people feel more detached. The teams are friendly but it won’t be the same familiarity you get with your normal nurse or GP.
If you have any questions, write them down or ask someone before your appointment as you do go through quite speedily.
After a couple of questions, I had the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, an information leaflet and a sticker. I also have a card to keep in my purse to show I’ve had the first dose.
And that was it. Out of the cubicle, a cheery goodbye from someone directing me out and back into the car park all within ten minutes. If you’ve driven yourself, you’ll be asked to wait a short while so they can check you’re ok.
The set-up at the Arena is fantastic. Efficient, welcoming and Covid-secure, it runs as smoothly as if it had been there years.
The next time I’m at a concert, in close contact with thousands of people singing loudly, I’ll look down at that floor and give thanks for the vaccine that gave us back our freedom.