Did I just take Sputnik-V COVID Vaccine? How?

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, in the early 2020s, our world has changed, in particular the way we live. There is a sense of abnormality in the “new” normal as we call it.  COVID-19 as we know it, has changed our personal, professional, physical, mental and  emotional characteristics. Our very relationship with our fellow humans and within society has changed

According to Global Language Monitor, and Oxford Dictionary, here are some facts:

Most common words of the year 2020

  1. COVID
  2. COVID-19
  3. Corona
  4. Facemasks
  5. Social distancing
  6. Vaccine

Interestingly, as 2020 neared its end, vaccine development and distribution began heating up, which is directly proportional to the interest shown in Russia and among several Russian regions, according to Google Trends. 

Google trends for COVID Vaccine

Right from the very beginning, the only way out of this pandemic was thought to be a vaccine which can kill and prevent the virus infection from spreading, the so-called R-number (rate of infection) to be below 1.  Since then, several manufacturing companies have raced and are still racing towards the “most effective” vaccine, one of which is Russia’s very own Sputnik-V COVID GamCOVID vaccine, rolling out in the latter half of 2020. 

Given that I’m one of the few Britishers left in Moscow (majority of them went home) and taking into account the perilous rollout of the Pfizer vaccine in the UK and EU, I decided to take the plunge and get the vaccination, delivered in two doses (stage I and II). Before I begin describing my experience, I would like to answer a few commonly asked questions.

  • Have I been paid by the Russian Government to write this article?

No!

  • Are there any side effects of this vaccine?

I have none, and didn’t experience any

  • This vaccine is fake

No it isn’t

  • I already had the virus, now I don’t need the vaccine

Antibodies subside over time, your body needs to “remember” the virus

  • Why are there two doses of the vaccine? Why not just 1?

Because both doses contain different strains of the Coronavirus family

  • Can I pay for this vaccine? Or can I take it privately?

Currently without state medical insurance it’s not possible. 

  • Do I get a QR-code after vaccination?

This is a good question, but no straight answer. Officially you are meant to receive the code in your Gosuslugi account. However as I am a foreign national, this functionality does not exist for me, therefore, I am ineligible. 

How to get the vaccination?

Even Though, it is theoretically possible to make an online appointment through https://uslugi.mosreg.ru (this is for Moscow Oblast), for moscow is https://mos.ru , when I tried, there were no appointments available, and since the rollout was quite recent, there wasn’t any reliable information available for booking appointments. In reality, you need google “vaccination center in Moscow” or wherever you are located. My advice is not to visit your polyclinic, as in most cases, COVID jab rollout centers are in different locations, not necessarily your polyclinic. 

During the first week of December 2020, I decided to pay a visit to my regional polyclinic and ask for the COVID vaccine. As I am a teacher of English language and deal with young children, I was automatically entitled for it. First thing in the morning I went to the reception of the clinic, explained my situation, and she pointed me towards a therapist room for further consultation.

One thing important to remember, is that the vaccination is carried in groups of 5 per session. This is because each vial holds upto 5 doses, which must be administered, as the vial has been defrosted already. 

When I saw the therapist, she asked me a series of questions, about my recent illness, breathing issues along with known allergies, which for each of them, I answered I didn’t have.  Once the Q&A session was done, the therapist gave me the date of the first dose, and confirmed my consent for being vaccinated tentatively. Additionally, the clinic calls you 1 day before on your mobile phone to confirm the appointment. Furthermore, your insurer who made your state medical insurance also sends you an SMS confirming the same. 

Vaccination day

I was given a morning 9AM appointment. I arrived before time on the day, and found the other 4 people taking part in the morning vaccination session. Upon my arrival I was given four sets of forms, which on each of them I had to confirm my consent and sign it. The clinician additionally, confirms the date for administering the second dose of the vaccine and it’s recorded in a special register. 

Form 2 – This contains patient information and declaration

Form 3 – Information about the COVID vaccine which you need to sign

Form 5 – Information and contract agreement

Form 6 – Dosage information

Once I signed all these forms, I was taken to the consultation room and administered the vaccine. It was painless, the needle was injected in my upper arm. Two minutes and it’s over. I made a video of this, you can watch below:

Day 2

It takes about 12-14 hours for the vaccine to take effect. During the night, I woke up to high fever, which I had been expecting. I promptly took paracetamol, and the fever subsided. During the day, I experienced COVID-like symptoms, generally lazy feeling, quite lethargic, high level of weakness, body aches and loss of energy. However the next day, the symptoms had vanished, and life returned to normal.

Dose 2 – Day 1

It is important to remember, dose 2 (stage II) of the vaccination is slightly different, a different virus vector is injected for the body to generate an immune response. For me personally, I felt a stronger reaction to the second dose, as compared to the first. Additionally, you cannot drink alcohol  or engage in sexual activity during the 3 week waiting period between doses. 

A few days before my appointment, I received a text message followed by a phone call from the clinic itself, confirming the appointment. I arrived at my appointed time, waiting for the second dose. As always, I needed to fill out the exact same forms as previous, but this time for the second dose. 

A quick trip to the consultation table, getting the jab and I was done with it. Following the vaccination procedure. I was offered a black and wihte paper certificate, which was manually filled with my name and vaccination date, and the dosage type. 

Dose 2 – Day 2

On the second day, I had a stronger reaction to the second dose, the symptoms were the same, however the intensity was stronger this time. Nevertheless, on day 3, everything subsided and life resumed as before. 

I will be getting my antibody test done after 3 weeks proceeding my second dose. 

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