Frontline healthcare workers have been the driving force in our continued journey in the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of nurses are often pulling long, tiring shifts in vaccination hubs, jabbing the masses as the vaccine rollout marches on. In those brief interactions with people coming in to get their jabs, nurses are hearing the sentiments of the public about the vaccine rollout.
Everything from daggy jokes to break their nerves, to strange questions, people demanding they skip the actual queue, vax nurses have heard it all – sometimes over and over again.
PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke to multiple nurses working over clinics, hubs, and vaccination centres over Australia about what they’ve heard from people coming in to get their jabs.
One nurse working at a clinic in Melbourne’s inner north said she’s been asked some odd things about the vaccine and what to do afterwards.
She told me one patient asked whether they’re allowed to shower after getting the jab, because they thought the needle would “leave a big hole” in their arm.
Others have walked in and declared that they’re “ready for their vaccine and 5G upgrade”, which is surely a gag nurses have heard hundreds of times over by now. Others have looked at her in surprise when she tells them she’s under 30 and had the AstraZeneca vaccine (all you need is to sign a consent form for a GP), and asking if she’s ok when she’s hours into a fast-paced clinic shift.
She’s also had people asking if they would die if they catch COVID after getting the jab, which seems to demonstrate the lack of information readily available to people about the realities of the efficacy of available vaccines. Modelling from the Doherty Institute shows that two doses of either the Pfizer or the AstraZeneca vaccine decreases the risk of death by over 90%, and reduce hospitalisation by over 85%.
Unfortunately, the Melbourne-based nurse also told me she’s experienced a lot of abuse while in her role at the clinic, including people demanding to be vaccinated ahead of others in the queue – and threatening to leave if they don’t have their demands met.
“One that weirdly sticks out from lockdown 4 was a patient who wanted to be moved to the front of the line,” she said.
“We were a little delayed with appointments because it was so busy – like that’s a good thing my dude, people are being vaccinated! – and he was like ‘well I’m doing a community service by getting this vaccine. If I don’t get inside in 5 mins I’m leaving’.”
A nurse who worked for a couple of months at the vaccination hub at Sydney’s Olympic Park told PEDESTRIAN.TV that she had patients asking if they could take pain relief if they had cold and flu symptoms after the jab (it’s currently recommended to rest, stay hydrated, and take two Panadol every four hours post-jab).
She said none of the people who asked this could tell her where they had read or heard you couldn’t take painkillers.
The Sydney-based nurse said while she was giving around 75 jabs a day on average, people were asking her a bunch of different things. A lot of people wanted to know more about side effects and when their immunity could be “complete”, and a few people specifically asked if they could have a beer post-jab.
(It’s important to note here that the vaccines are not, and never will be 100% immunity from COVID-19, but both vaccines have extremely high efficacy rates and massively protect us all from the worst outcomes.)
Interestingly, she told me that people mainly asked if they were receiving the Pfizer vaccine from her.
The majority of the people who came through the Olympic Park hub in her tenure were largely positive about the vaccines, and would express how grateful they were that they could get jabbed. She also said that a lot of people had questions, and tended to preface them with “I know this is dumb to ask…”, which seemed to be a bit of a pattern.
All adult Aussies (yep, even if those of us under 40) are currently able to get the safe and effective AstraZeneca vaccine through a GP. Click here to see which clinics are offering it, and talk to a doctor to see if it’s right for you.
Alternatively, you can triple-check to see if you’re eligible for the Pfizer vaccine here.
The best vaccine is the first one you can get, and that’ll be our ticket out of this mess.