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My COVID-19 vaccine story

Tracey and her two boys seated on a couch

Tracey has two young boys and lives in Brisbane. This is her vaccine story.

Like many, I have been watching the news about COVID-19 in Australia and internationally and looking forward to a reprieve, which it seems will only come about with a vaccine.

Over time, infectious disease specialists have learned more about the disease, possible treatments and the longer-term effects of the disease in those that have recovered. None of it looks good to me.

Vaccines are a normal part of how I look after my health and the health of my kids. I understand that every medical intervention carries risk, but on balance, the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks for me and my family.

When the government released details of the vaccine rollout, I expected I wouldn’t be eligible until late 2021, because I’m 38 and don’t have a job that increases my risk. But when the program moved into the 1b phase, I completed the online eligibility checker and saw that my medical condition was included in the current phase.

I was thrilled to be able to get the vaccine early not just for myself but for my family. I have two young children who have both had reactive airways (asthma) and my Mum is over 70 and has a range of medical conditions that make her extremely vulnerable, so the whole family is conscious of shielding her from COVID-19.

Getting the jab

My local GP was listed as a vaccine provider, so I clicked through and within five minutes I had an appointment. The appointment itself was really easy—I had been sent an online form ahead of time, so I just had a quick check-in at reception, where I also booked my appointment for my second dose, then a short wait to see the doctor.

When I was called in, the doctor asked a couple more questions to confirm my eligibility and understanding of the risks and benefits of the vaccine, then the nurse gave me the jab and I was sent back to the waiting room for 15 minutes of observation. In total it all took about 45 minutes.

For a few days after I had some mild side effects – a sore arm, headache, feeling a bit achy and tired, and a mild fever. None of these side effects worried me as it felt much the same as my annual flu vaccination, and it gave me a bit of reassurance that the vaccine was doing its job and my immune system was responding.

The side effects were probably at their worst 24 hours after getting the jab. I worked from home, took some paracetamol and was fine within a couple of days.Tracey holds up a badge after receiving her first vaccine dose

Good news and bad news

Within a few weeks of getting my first jab there was a small outbreak in Brisbane, with lots of contact locations in my local area. I felt like I had made the right choice getting the vaccine as COVID-19 spreads so quickly and easily and it was reassuring to know I had some protection.

I’m grateful for the way things have been handled in Queensland and that we haven’t had any major outbreaks, but I would also like to see an end to the cycle of restrictions, lockdowns, quarantine and border closures.

Not long after that, news started emerging about some cases of people overseas and in Australia getting blood clots and a low platelet syndrome after receiving the vaccine. It was pretty scary seeing the news roll in, especially as one of the cases was similar to me in age and had the same medical condition as me. I was relieved to see the official advice that it was safe to get my second dose, even though I am under 50, because I hadn’t had any serious side effects from the first dose. I read through the advice and looked at an analysis from the UK and felt comfortable that my personal risk is very low.

What’s next

I’m due for my second dose this week, and unless the advice changes again, I will be getting it. Even though we have been very fortunate with low community transmission in Queensland, it can change quickly, and the threat of serious complications from COVID-19 is always there. I hope to see a future where COVID-19 and variants become like other vaccine-preventable diseases and we can get back to normal life (albeit a new normal).

I have family overseas in the UK, the US, and Thailand, and so far, it’s been the longest stretch since we’ve seen them. Some of them would like to return home to Australia but the cost is huge, not to mention the difficulty of leaving jobs and relationships along with all the practical difficulties of moving internationally.

I urge everyone to check your eligibility for the vaccine and do some reading on the risks and benefits, using proper sources backed by science, not Dr Google.

If you have concerns talk it over with your GP who can give you advice tailored to your unique personal circumstances.

More information

Last updated: 14 June 2021