At the sharp end of the Covid vaccine programme

Phil Ascough writes…

If I’d arrived at City Hall bit earlier I might have made it onto the national BBC TV news.

Watching their coverage I caught a glimpse of the volunteer in her hi-vis jacket who directed me to a cubicle, and of the doctor who literally put me at the sharp end of the Covid vaccine programme.

City centre signs direct people to Hull City Hall vaccination centre.
City centre signs direct people to Hull City Hall vaccination centre.

I’d have told the BBC that all the staff and volunteers I encountered were doing a great job, from the woman who gave me a squirt of hand sanitiser on arrival through to the chap who guided me to the exit just over 15 minutes later and asked where I got my Hull City facemask. Full marks for the NHS, the City Health Care Partnership and St John Ambulance.

Let’s fast forward a bit. More than 24 hours after my jab I can’t say I’ve noticed any significant reaction. There’s a bit of a sniffle but that’s more likely to be down to dust from decorating at home. Also slight lethargy, but it was a restless night finding sleeping positions which didn’t put pressure on the injected arm. Not that there was anything more severe than a slight ache.

It’s not the same for everybody though. I’d heard from friends who were hit quite heavily by flu and cold-like symptoms 24 hours after their jab. 

The leaflet which accompanied my Astra Zeneca lifeline says “very common” side effects which may be experienced by more than one in 10 people include fatigue, headache, feeling sick and aches and pains.

“Common” side effects which may effect up to one in 10 people include fever, vomiting and flu-like high temperature, sore throat, chills and general snottiness. There’s also a reference to “a lump at the injection site” which I took to mean a swelling of the arm rather than a Prime Minister pitching up at City Hall.

Uncommon reactions which may affect up to one in 100 people include dizziness, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, enlarged lymph nodes and excessive sweating, itchy skin or rash.

All of this stuff is there to reassure you that discomfort is rare and help is at hand if any of these symptoms kick in. If you haven’t been jabbed yet and you’re worried about it you can probably find the details at www.nhs.uk or www.azcovid-19.com

The only concerns I had were about possible postponement for whatever reason – illness on my part, someone losing the keys to City Hall or the government running out of vaccine after realising they put the decimal point in the wrong place when bombarding us with figures.

I just wanted to get on with it, and if it had been possible I’d have been more than happy having left through the back door of City Hall to head straight round to the front again and get the second jab.

Booking the appointment on receipt of a letter from the NHS proved a little fraught, with initial options involving trips to Grimsby or York, or even further. Leeds, Huddersfield and Mansfield were all on the list which is perhaps a little odd given that one of the questions they ask after the jab is whether you plan to drive home.

Don’t jump into the first slot you find, unless of course it’s at a convenient location. Keep going back to the site – evenings around 9pm have worked well for us – and you should find a local option soon enough.

The whole process was speedy, efficient, friendly and painless apart from the slight scratch you feel as the needle touches your skin. It was also impressive to see the City Hall again being put to such good use.

You’re in and out so quickly that you don’t have time to sit there, admire the splendour of the building and think about previous visits and future plans for attending events in one of our great landmarks, so I put some thought to that before I went.

I’ll never forget standing in the crowd outside City Hall when Luke Campbell brought back his Olympic gold medal in 2012, or joining the thousands who have congregated there after Hull City’s Wembley wins.  

The biggest gigs, including the famous one by The Who eventually released as a live album in 2012, took place long before I arrived in Hull but over the years I’ve been to shows there by performers including Van Morrison, Richard Hawley, Paul Carrack, Sade and Randy Crawford. And most memorably by The Gargoyles, when Eddie Smith entertained a sparse crowd at a charity event by singing his insane songs as he ran around the balcony to make the place look busier than it was.

I’ve reported on big community events including the Christmas lights switch-on, Diwali, Chinese New Year and the University of Hull’s degree ceremonies. There was also a big international sporting fixture when City hall hosted international table tennis between England and Romania. 

In 2017, I and thousands of others stared in wonder as Hull’s City of Culture year opened with those spectacular projections onto City Hall and its neighbouring, iconic buildings.

The last time I saw the place fitted out with stalls was a few years ago when I worked with Dave Lee to make a film featuring HullBID Fashion Week and we interviewed celebrity guest presenter Keeley Donovan. 

My favourite City Hall picture is unrelated to any of this. It just makes me smile whenever the Hull Philharmonic puts its banner up!

Hull Phil.

The history section at www.hulltheatres.co.uk reveals that City Hall only opened during the first decade of the 20th century. It closed after being bombed in 1941 and was apparently written off by the organist of the time, yet was able to reopen in 1948.

Now, as then, it’s suffered with us, it’s recovering with us and with luck before long it will once again be entertaining us and celebrating with us. And maybe when I get my second jab at the beginning of June I’ll be able to pop into The Punch Hotel across the road!

Phil Ascough

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