Dose of happiness with first jab in 20 years
Catherine Lorenz had not had a vaccination in more than 20 years until she received her first Pfizer vaccination in July.
After a bad allergic reaction to a hepatitis B shot in Shepparton in 2000 her then GP advised her to skip immunisations entirely.
Mrs Lorenz was living in Shepparton and training to be a teacher and, as someone with significant allergies — to tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, citrus, avocado and bees to name a few — she trusted the health advice that vaccines were not advisable given her medical history.
‘‘I go on medical advice not assumptions,’’ she said.
Since the start of the pandemic, medical experts have warned COVID-19 is dangerous and transmission should be avoided at all costs — and the costs, as Victorians know, have been great.
Mrs Lorenz has heard from loved ones — living in Australia and overseas — who have been infected and their experiences scare her.
‘‘I’ve seen what you can get with COVID and I wouldn't wish COVID on my worst enemy,’’ she said. Two of Mrs Lorenz’s cousins have ‘long COVID’, the name given to the symptoms some people experience for weeks or months after the initial COVID-19 infection.
Long COVID could happen to people who were not unwell after COVID-19 infection, according to the Victorian Department of Health.
Symptoms could include concentration and memory issues, shortness of breath, exhaustion, changes in mood, sleep issues, heart palpitations, chest pain, headaches and loss of smell or taste.
As soon as Mrs Lorenz was eligible for a vaccine she made an appointment.
‘‘I discussed it with my GP three times between making the booking in May and finally getting the jab in July,’’ she said.
Her doctor advised it would be safe for her to receive the vaccine.
‘‘In the end, I thought, ‘I’ve spoken to medical practitioners who know me best’,’’ Mrs Lorenz said.
‘‘I would rather have a vaccination in a safe location, where if I did have anaphylaxis I would have help on hand, than get COVID — that is ultimately it.’’
On the day of her first Pfizer dose, Mrs Lorenz was so anxious she could barely control her body shakes.
But she was thrilled when her vaccine side effects were nothing serious.
‘‘COVID is a million times worse than what having the vaccine is,’’ she said.
Mrs Lorenz’s advice to anyone who felt anxious about getting vaccinated or was unsure whether their medical history would impact their eligibility — speak to the experts and beware of misinformation online.
‘‘Talk to your GP — don’t talk to anyone else, don’t read anything else,’’ she said.
‘‘Only talk to people who have medical experience and who know you as well, to know what’s right for you.’’