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Three drugs, three countries: personal stories of COVID-19 vaccination

The mass vaccination against coronavirus is going on all over the world, and, most likely, it will inevitably reach you. Three journalists Bi-bi-si in three countries of the world they talk about how they were vaccinated: Yana Litvinova in Great Britain, Oleg Boldyrev in Russia and Anastasia Zlatopolskaya in Israel.

Photo: Shutterstock

London. Yana Litvinova

For me, it all started with a call from the hospital, where I had to go for another procedure that was absolutely necessary for a relatively normal life.

“Mrs. Litvinova? - said a pleasant female voice. - You were supposed to come to us on February 19. So, don't come. Let you first be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and after four weeks - welcome, just do not forget to let us know when it happened. "

A little taken aback, I nevertheless figured out to ask if this means that I am on some priority lists, because if the coronavirus in the air is incompatible with my treatment, then I probably should have been vaccinated as soon as possible.

“This is not for us, - the voice has not lost either pleasantness or cheerfulness, - another department is engaged in vaccinations and not even a department, but your local clinic, please contact them.”

Considering that this very clinic tirelessly bombarded me with text messages that I did not need to call them and ask questions about vaccinations, and they themselves would inform when my turn came, the advice of a pleasant voice was completely useless.

But then I was very lucky, because our doctor called me, the English analogue of a district therapist, who knows the whole family as flaky, to clarify when a nurse can come to us to vaccinate my mother.

Mom, due to her age, was one hundred percent in the priority group. Taking advantage of the opportunity, I asked the dearest Dr. Caroline, what should I do?

Caroline pondered: “It is not yet clear with medical indicators, we ourselves do not really know who should be skipped ahead and who should not. There seem to be no questions with you, but the process may be delayed. But I'll put you on the list as the main person caring for your mom. Are you the main person? " I hastened to answer in the affirmative.

About a week later, my phone blinked: I was invited to receive the coveted injection. Caroline's tactic had clearly worked.

At the appointed time, I arrived at the indicated address. It was another small local clinic, though not the one to which we are all assigned. A queue snaked around the clinic in exemplary order.

The people obediently kept a two-meter distance and were sullenly cold. In London, minus one is almost a disaster, and they decided not to let us inside in order to minimize the chances of accidental infection.

Between us, trying not to get too close, a young man in a bright yellow waistcoat, usually worn by road workers breaking the asphalt in the middle of the expressway, scurried about.

His task was to correlate the names with the available lists and provide us with two sheets of paper with questions that we will be asked just before the injection.

The line dutifully called names and dates of birth and asked one single question: what kind of vaccine will we receive today? Hearing that in the near future we have AstraZeneca, everyone expressed deep satisfaction.

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The line moved on pretty quickly. Once inside, I discovered why: a small lobby was partitioned off into eight booths.

There were paramedics in the booths, next to them lay a pile of syringes ready to inject.

This was the last “checkpoint” before the finish. They took my temperature, asked if I had been vaccinated against coronavirus or something else last week, if I had unexplained coughing fits, and if I gave my consent to the upcoming procedure.

Unable to bear it, I asked a nurse named Muhammad: “Are there people who, after all this, stand up and proudly leave without being vaccinated?”

Muhammad rolled his blackened eyes over his mask and said that the computer program would not give him the opportunity to record my vaccination if at least one of the questions remained unanswered.

Pulling the needle out of me, Muhammad asked the last, not so idiotic question: did I come here by car? Because if so, you have to wait 15 minutes to make sure I don't collapse in terrible convulsions and crush innocent citizens.

There were no convulsions. No side effects - for now, too. I sit and wait patiently for the second vaccination. Because my body's normal healing process can only resume four weeks after the second portion. What they forgot to tell me at first. Okay, not so scary: at least half the distance is already behind.

Moscow. Oleg Boldyrev

“Shcheglov is in 321st! Is there Shcheglov? " - shouted a nurse in the corridor, where next to me sat 20 people. A middle-aged man in a black sweater stood up. Mr. Scheglov, I and everyone else came to the Moscow polyclinic for the first Sputnik vaccination.

After almost a year of speculation and speculation about the coronavirus, after restrictions, quarantine measures, masks almost ingrown into the face and liters of antiseptic spent, after alarm calls from infected relatives and friends, after conversations with experts and scientists about how to look for a way out, the first step towards the possible escape from danger was discouragingly prosaic.

Why did I decide to get vaccinated? For personal reasons. Circumstances have changed; I need to spend a lot of time with a chronically ill disabled person.

In mid-December, it seemed that no one wanted to “shoot up” in Moscow. I checked - and the nearest window for recording, according to the State Services website, was already 15 minutes later. I did the same as everyone else - decided to wait.

My calculation was not very scientific, but empirically clear: with thousands of "injected" outside of clinical trials, it will be difficult to hide significant and severe side effects.

The same - and with the wave of diseases - if, God forbid, "Sputnik" would be completely useless. And the long-term effectiveness of the Russian, and indeed all other vaccines so far, is a matter of faith, not of fact. Three weeks passed, I did not see mass reports about some extraordinary consequences of the injection for the body and I decided.

While I was waiting, there were clearly more people wishing to be vaccinated - the next opportunity opened only after two weeks. And so, after waiting for the due, having appeared at the clinic, filling out a questionnaire about the presence of colds, allergies and everything else that would be an obstacle to the injection, I sat down in a short queue.

The way out of it led to a therapist, who measured my blood pressure and made sure once again that I was not sick with anything. The doctor said that the number of people in the queue for the injection became noticeably more after the authorities allowed people over 65 to be vaccinated.

Until this age, I still live a long time, but the fact that almost anyone can get an injection in Moscow was a fact long before vaccination points began to open even in shopping centers.

"Who do you work for?" - shouted through the noise of the procedure nurse at the computer. “In the media,” I replied as her colleague rubbed my left shoulder with alcohol.

"What is it like?" The nurse asked. Thinking, I gave the real reason: "I take care of the elderly." "In a nursing home, or what?" - she responded. I looked over my current caregiving responsibilities in my head and answered yes. A rather painful injection followed.

Controlling whether any extraordinary consequences of the vaccination would appear, I sat in the corridor for another 20 minutes. Opposite me, after the injection, 40-year-old Ekaterina, a general practitioner, was resting. Her decision, like mine, was also not the product of unbridled enthusiasm.

After the race with the creation of this drug, the scandal with trials on the scientists themselves, the involvement of soldiers in research, after the victorious announcements of the start of mass vaccination almost in September, the publication of interim results of clinical trials that raised questions among Western scientists, Catherine was certainly not sure of that the Russian vaccine will defeat covid.

On the subject: Traditional Johnson & Johnson vs. Pfizer and Moderna with mRNA: Which Vaccine to Choose

It should be noted that the conversation took place before the creators of "Sputnik" published new research results in the Lancet, which were accepted by the scientific community much more favorably than the previous ones.

And on the other side of the scale, she has an acquaintance who spent a whole month in the hospital with covid complications. She did not want such problems for herself. “Possible harm is less than possible benefit,” - this is how Catherine put it.

Like many who have described their feelings from the vaccine, the night after the injection, I had aches all over my body. Paracetamol calmed her down without difficulty. The next three weeks passed without any consequences - and now, again on Sunday evening, I came for the second injection.

The queue moved from the fifth to the first floor of the clinic, the security guard in the lobby said that the elevators could no longer cope with the flow of sign-ups. I took a place in line for three young natives of Central Asia. They did not understand Russian well, so there was a slight confusion with the line.

Then the process was similar - again questions in the form, again a little-to-nothing conversation with a therapist, this time accompanied by measuring the level of oxygen in the blood. With my papers, the doctor went down the corridor to the treatment room - not a very efficient use of her time.

This time, the injection in the right shoulder was completely invisible, but the consequences after a few hours were much more painful. The aching without fever lasted almost a day and a half, and the painkillers could only partially cope with it.

Now, according to the creators of Sputnik, I am a couple of weeks away from maximum protection against coronavirus. But - vaccinated or not - I will continue to ride the subway wearing a mask and try, as much as possible, to avoid being in crowds for too long.

In addition to antibodies to covid, the vaccine offers hope. But, alas, it does not provide unlimited confidence that I will be able to live according to “dockyard” rules.

Jerusalem. Anastasia Zlatopolskaya

In Israel, anyone over 16 years old who has not yet had a covid infection can get vaccinated.

To sign up for a vaccination, you either need to call your health insurance company or schedule a queue via the mobile app. Vaccination points are open throughout the country, and literally within a radius of a couple of kilometers, most likely, you can find such a point.

They are located not only in hospitals and clinics, but also in specially converted office buildings, stadiums, drive-through centers (where you can get vaccinated without leaving your car) and other points.

Some time ago, a tent vaccination center was opened even on the main square in Tel Aviv, where all protests usually take place. Mobile centers are emerging in markets, parks and parking lots.

I signed up through the application. I chose a convenient time and found a vaccination point literally a few hundred meters from my home. A couple of days later I went for the first dose.

Even before entering the clinic, I saw the signs “lehisunim” (for vaccinations). After passing several corridors, I ended up at the office, where they are vaccinated. There was only one person in front of me, and after a few minutes I was already called to go inside.

In Israel, until recently, 150-200 thousand people were vaccinated daily. But then the pace dropped, as more than 50% of the population had already received the first vaccine, and more than 30% the second. And the health ministry faced vaccine distrust among some communities.

Most of the anti-inoculants were among Orthodox Jews and Arabs, as well as among immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The office is divided into several parts, and 3-4 paramedics work in parallel. The whole procedure took about five minutes at most: a few questions from the questionnaire - whether she was pregnant and whether there were any allergies. And then they clarified whether they were left-handed or right-handed, and instantly made an injection.

Vaccinated with Pfizer vaccines, vaccination takes place in two stages. The second vaccination is in 21 days.

After the injection, they asked to wait 15 minutes in the fresh air and handed over a booklet with the date of the second vaccination and information about vaccination in three languages ​​- Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.

After a couple of hours, I was already on the set and almost did not feel any side effect of the vaccination. Only a slight feeling of fatigue and at some point a slight chill. By nightfall, however, the hand at the injection site was very sore, but by morning the pain was gone.

I naively believed that after the second vaccination I could calmly return to work. In the same office, they also promptly injected me with a second dose and asked if everything was all right after the first one.

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This time, the hand ached almost immediately, and it was difficult to overcome fatigue with one cup of coffee. By the evening, new effects of the injection began to appear: pain in muscles and joints, headache, nausea, heartburn, fever.

And by the middle of the night it was already completely lousy: it was shaking with chills, then it was thrown into a fever. At the same time, he terribly broke his back and twisted from stomach pains. At some point, I tried to get up and walk to the bathroom, but it was almost impossible to move.

I remember my very pale reflection in the mirror, I think I almost fainted then.

The condition worsened so much that I began to scroll through the options in my head what to do if it got worse: wake up the neighbors (owners of the house), call a friend, or try to call an ambulance myself.

It was so bad that I didn't really know where to call. Looking for a piece of paper, which the nurse asked to take from the printer before leaving the office. The last hope for her, for sure there is an emergency number, but it turned out to be a certificate of vaccination.

I managed to fall asleep only in the morning and then for a short while. A few hours later I woke up with the feeling as if I had been spun in a centrifuge all night. The whole body was breaking and numb in places. By evening it became easier, and on the third day I more or less felt normal.

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