COVID-19 vaccine roll-out gives hope to shielders who are reaching breaking point
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It has been a cripplingly anxious last 12 months for Keisha Meek, aged 28, who has endometriosis on her lungs.
She has been so afraid of catching coronavirus and becoming chronically ill that she has even been afraid to touch the wheelie bin.
Miss Meek, an NHS project manager said: “I was really excited about having the vaccine. I have been quite anxious about it the whole time and worried about it. Owen (her delivery driver boyfriend) was at LGI now and again and when he wasn’t at hospital he was at building sites. That was freaking me out, I was scared about catching it and my colleagues in ICU were saying patients were younger that were getting the new strain.”
Miss Meek, of Bingley started shielding last March at the first outbreak of coronavirus, returned to work in summer but has been shielding since the second lockdown and has been advised to stay at home until at least February 21.
She has recently had her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine that is being rolled out to elderly and vulnerable people as part of a national programme and will receive the second dose in early April.
More easy-to-access information on the vaccine programme and its progress is among the requests being made through the Yorkshire Evening Post's 'A Shot In The Arm' campaign.
Led by the newspaper and sister titles across JPIMedia, it also asks for further reassurance for local communities and urges Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deploy the country’s network of 11,000 pharmacies to ensure that every citizen is only a short walk away from a vaccination centre.
With 100,000 set to have been vaccinated in the city by the end of last week, Elland Road opened its doors to the public for vaccines by invitation this week. It has capacity to vaccinate 9,200 people per week at the moment but hopes to increase that as the national programme works its way down the age cohorts.
She said: “It was isolating and difficult to get out of being anxious of even touching the dustbin. To build that back up has taken some time. Now even if somebody gets too close I get a bit freaked out. It makes you think that second vaccine calms that down - because it has not been great.
“This makes me feel a bit less stressed and worried and gives me that little bit of hope, I might get the rest of my treatment.”
The condition of endometriosis involves cells like those in the lining of the womb - which each month break down and bleed - being found elsewhere in the body, such as the ovaries, bladder, bowel and even the lungs.
She has been placed in chemical menopause for four months but the maximum this can happen is for six months.
She has had several operations and Miss Meek is waiting to see a thoracic surgeon to see the extent of endometriosis on her lungs due to concerns about low oxygen levels. She is also set to meet with a bowel specialist - but she is still waiting to hear when these appointments will take place.
It is hoped that the vaccine roll-out may lead to a time frame for other routine surgeries and appointments, that have been cancelled due to the focus on treating COVID, being reinstated.
Miss Meek, who is also the co-founder of the National Endometriosis Survivor’s Support Group added: “A few people in our group have ended up in really bad situations, with walking sticks, losing mobility. There have been suicides in the group - everyone is at breaking point.
“As soon as they have the vulnerable vaccinated that is going to cut the hospital admissions or people getting COVID. It will massively help get everything back to normal, there are pressures everywhere on the NHS at this time of year but now it is a lot worse, but I think it will help get treatments back up and running.
“It would be nice to get from the government a timeline about when it is safe for surgery to start - but I don’t think they even know.”
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