Getting the vaccine with long-COVID
Even with long-COVID, you can still have a positive vaccination experience.
I tested positive for coronavirus on the first day of my first university term. I ended up developing long-COVID, and it did not end well to put it very lightly. So when volunteering with People’s Army Islington with my mother, the organiser managed to sort out vaccinations, I asked if I could get one. That’s how in late January, this 20-year-old was able to get vaccinated without having to wait until the end of clinic hours to prevent a vaccine from going to waste.
Both times, I was sent a short online form to book my jab that I was able to fill out even with my difficulties with forms. In both cases, my parents and I went to Whipps Cross Hospital in London. I’d never been there before, so I made sure to search up the layout in advance, which helped a lot to calm my anxiety.
The vaccination appointment
Once inside the hospital, the directions and instructions about the vaccination were very clear. The nurse explained everything to do with the Pfizer vaccine and patiently answered any questions I had. The injection was completely fine and then I sat in a waiting room for 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t develop any complications. Luckily I didn’t - I didn’t even develop any side effects!
At the time, I didn’t actually know Ambitious about Autism had any resources for supporting autistic people during the age of coronavirus. I’ve looked through them all now, and I would have found the hospital passport, tips for managing health anxiety and returning to education helpful. Oh well, at least I know about them now - better later than never!
Asking for adjustments
I had no idea you could ask for adjustments during your vaccination appointment. I don’t like hospitals and I’m extremely comfortable with needles, so I wouldn’t have asked for extra time. However, if I’d known, I would’ve asked if I could listen to music or at least wear noise-canceling headphones. Since I have auditory and visual processing issues that are especially bad in a hospital environment, knowing that was an option would have reduced my stress a lot.
Despite these small things though, overall it was a very positive experience, and I have multiple autistic friends who have said the same. It was definitely scary given all the understandable worries around catching coronavirus and the fact I was involuntarily hospitalised twice due to long-COVID complications. However, I came out unscathed by side effects, which you’re more likely to get and more likely to experience worse if you’ve had COVID before. Even without factoring that in though, I would say my experience was positive.
So if you’re nervous about getting the vaccine, it’s completely understandable but it can all work out okay. It’s yet another step we have to take to protect our loved ones and the world at large from COVID. You’ve already taken so many, so I believe in you that you can take one more.
About the author
Aiden Tsen is a 20-year-old freelance Autistic LGBTQ+ public speaker, blogger, writer and artist.