image caption(Clockwise from top left) Don Goodman, Masira Han, Pat and Bruce Barnett, and Terry Mensah have all had the Covid vaccine
Each dose of the Covid vaccine that is administered means something different for the person on the receiving end.
More than 20 million people in the UK have received a first dose so far, with older adults and those most at risk at the front of the queue.
With talk of a return to normal life, we spoke to some of the vaccinated about what that means to them.
Seeing family, friends, getting back to favourite hobbies and even the pub quiz are top of their lists.
‘I can’t wait to have a nice meal with friends’
image captionMasira Hans said reports of low vaccine take up in BAME communities have surprised her
Masira Hans, 27, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, works as a serious mental illness project officer for mental health charity Mind in Bradford.
She is also a chair of the Women’s Health Network – which works to get key messages out to women across the city – and was offered the vaccine last month as she works in front-line healthcare.
Ms Hans said seeing family, going out with friends and keeping herself protected were her motivations for taking up the vaccine.
“The biggest thing for me is if we can get back to some sort of normality . If I am doing front-line work, do I want to be worried about becoming seriously ill with Covid? Definitely not.
“Another factor for me to be vaccinated were my grandparents. Before the lockdown came into effect we were very close and were able to meet regularly, not being able to see them was really difficult and with the vaccine we are one step closer to being able to meet again.”
She said reports of low vaccine take-up in ethnic minority communities had surprised her, as she didn’t know anyone who was not keen to get “back to normal”.
“I find that interesting because there isn’t anyone I know who has actually said no to the vaccine, I feel that it’s quite a small minority.
“Especially the BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] community, as events like births, deaths and marriages, are communal gatherings and involve people mixing together and we all want to get back to normal.”
“It sounds odd but I just can’t wait to go into a restaurant with my friends and have a nice meal. It’s the little things I miss. Things like going to the cinema, the shops, or for coffee, being able to travel to new places, It’s the things we took for granted before.”
Ms Hans said her work has included new challenges in the past year, such as offering people therapy over video call, and she had to “rethink” her approach.
“For example, I’ve really thought about how I can help and show to people I meet that I am still listening in the same way as I would in person, and I continue to offer a friendly, therapeutic atmosphere, just in a different way.”
‘I want to be singing with other people’
image captionPat and Bruce Barnett are looking forward to getting their choir back together after lockdown
Pat and Bruce Barnett run a community choir and have missed the “feelgood factor” brought by singing with others.
They both received their first dose of the vaccine in January, due to their age.
Mrs Barnett, 74, said: “Aside from meeting with friends, the thing I miss most is singing with a large group of people.
“There is nothing like it.
“That is the thing I most want to do, Yes I want to go on holiday, see friends, but I want to be singing in a room with other people.”
Their choir – Retford Community Singers – has been running for about eight years, and although it has carried on over Zoom, only about 20 members out of 80 have joined in.
“It is a very different experience on Zoom because there is a time lag. You can’t have everybody singing at the same time because it’s absolute chaos.”
The group did take a cue from other choirs, performing a song called “Roam Around Retford,” which was edited to give the illusion the choir were in the same room.
The Barnetts also lead a singing group and sing with a group of friends in Lincoln.
Mrs Barnett said: “People come in to choir and they are feeling down and they come out feeling on top of the world.
Mr Barnett, 71, said: “Over the last year, everyone has had a bit of a meltdown but it has usually been something to do with singing in this house.”
Sailing is also a passion for Mr Barnett, who is an active member of a local dinghy club – another hobby which has had to be paused over lockdown.
The couple, who have five grandchildren, are also counting down to cuddles with their family.
“I desperately miss the grandchildren,” Mr Barnett said. “We see them from a distance and it is lovely to see them, but it will be nice to have them to stay or give them a cuddle.
“We are lucky enough to have ours relatively near and not everybody has that.”
‘After my transplant I was on lockdown’
image captionTerry Mensah had been shielding for months before lockdown started, after a kidney transplant
Back in March 2020, Terry Mensah, 43, had just returned to work after having his second kidney transplant when he was told to go home to shield.
His wife Melissa had given him a kidney, which, given the fact he is Ghanaian and she is from Ireland, he described as a “miracle”.
“After the operation in December 2019 I was effectively on lockdown myself,” he said. “I couldn’t really be around a lot of people, and I literally just got back to work in March when I got sent home to shield.”
He said being in one of the first groups to be offered the vaccine meant he felt nervous about what to do.
“I remember when I got the text message asking me to go for the vaccine, I was like I don’t know, which one is better, the Pfizer or Oxford?
“I was doing my research and there is all this misinformation about.
“I have had a transplant so I’m in a bit of different situation because I take 16-18 tablets a day. The worry is, obviously being in one of the clinically vulnerable groups, and being BAME as well, and male, these things pile up.
“More and more people closer to my circle of friends were getting Covid, that’s what made me think, it feels like it’s closing in on me.”
Mr Mensah said speaking to his GP, and doing his own research, helped reassure him about taking the vaccine.
He said he was looking forward to getting back in the gym, going on holidays and meeting up with work colleagues.
Like many people he is also looking forward to some time alone.
“One thing I did start after my transplant, was having my own ‘Terry Day’,” he said.
“I booked myself into a spa, I stayed overnight, it was amazing, the best thing ever.
“I found this talent for writing poetry. While I was on dialysis I had therapy, and the therapist recommended putting my thoughts on paper.
“I stayed overnight, had my poetry book, I had a massage, used the spa and the gym. It was so nice, and I think this lockdown, it’s so intense… I’m looking forward to some time alone.”
‘I want to get back to my hobbies’
image captionDon Goodman added another hobby to his list in lockdown, playing the ukelele
As an active 82-year-old, retired dentist Don Goodman used to spend his time walking or riding his electric bike, playing bowls or competing in a pub quiz team.
He saw his family at least once a week, with one of his daughters, Karen, living only half an hour away from his Leeds home with her husband and children.
Mr Goodman said keeping in touch with them online has helped him through the restrictions.
“Karen gave me a Portal [a Facebook video chat device] and that’s been a godsend, it really has,” he said.
“I speak to the family most nights and we have a virtual meal together, the girls can show me their latest fashion accessories, they are very keen on make-up at the moment.
“Also, we get together some Saturday nights and we have a quiz with my grandson who lives in Glasgow. It’s like being in a big room really.”
“I have another daughter in Bristol, and she usually comes up around Easter time, for my birthday. I’ve not seen her since about August I think, when the rules were relaxed.”
Mr Goodman had his first dose of the vaccine on 21 December, and hopes the second one will come soon so he can spend more time with his family, and go out once more with his partner, Judy.
Eventually, he said, he can get back to all the hobbies he loves – adding in another one learnt in lockdown, playing the ukelele.
“I’ve spent a lot of time learning to play the baritone ukulele, not that you’d be very impressed if you heard me play!” he said.
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