Aussie nurse gives COVID jab thumbs up: ‘Just do it’
First-time dad Matthew Moon has become one of the first Australians to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be rolled out here next year, describing it as "a relief".
The UK-based nurse, who had COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, received a jab on the first day it started being rolled out across virus-stricken Britain on December 8.
The 38-year-old from Wollongong said he was working as part of a clinical skills team rolling out the vaccine to high-risk and frontline staff at the Derbyshire hospital where he is employed when a cancellation enabled him to receive the vaccine himself.
Mr Moon, whose British-born partner Katie Crookes, 35, had just given birth to their firstborn son Artie days earlier, said it had been an emotional week.
"I was not expected to work that day because my wife had just had a baby two days earlier, but because of complications, she was remaining in hospital," he said.
"But because I couldn't visit her, I stayed at work to help with the rollout."
During the course of the day, Mr Moon was told a small window had emerged for him to receive a jab.
"We had had some cancellations out of the 200 places that had been booked and I received a WhatsApp message asking if I'd finished teaching and that there was a 15-minute window to get one," he said.
Having experienced first-hand the effects of COVID-19 after contracting it in March, the opportunity to get vaccinated was welcomed, he said.
"I obviously work in a high-risk area and it was in the first phase when things weren't in place the way they are now, but I don't know exactly how I contracted it," Mr Moon said.
"I kind of initially came down with a fever for a week.
"It took me about eight weeks after to regain the feeling of being well. You feel short of breath. I couldn't run for three months afterwards. It took a while for recover."
Several of Mr Moon's friends and colleagues also contracted the virus, with some having no symptoms and others being impacted more seriously.
"It affects everyone really differently," he said.
As for any initial side-effects from the vaccine, apart from a slight arm ache, there were none, Mr Moon said.
"It was just like standard flu shot except the number of staff and doctors involved to make sure it ran smoothly," he said.
Mr Moon, who worked as a clinical nurse specialist in Sydney before relocating to Sheffield in the UK in 2018, said the surge in cases across Britain was taking its toll on the community.
Not only were a record number of new coronavirus cases were registered on Wednesday with nearly 40,000 people returning positive tests, the country is bracing itself against a new strain that experts say appears to be far more contagious.
Mr Moon said his hometown had been in the highest lockdown tier at level three, before a new higher level four tier was imposed on London amid the escalating situation.
"We were allowed on Christmas Day to mix with one other household only," he said.
"This will carry on in the UK for several months."
As for how many local cases, Mr Moon said he, like others, had been "dulled by the data".
"Might be in the thousands," he said.
"You get by dulled by the data.
"We are in exhaustion phase. At start, everyone was anxious. Then we all became motivated, that we can do this, we can beat it. Now people are getting tired.
"In the hospital that I work, we have had more deaths from COVID than in all of Australia. But you sign up to these roles to help the community. You just try and do what you can. The vaccine is giving people hope, that there is kind of light at the end of the tunnel."
As for his message to Australians?
"Just do it. Trust in the science. Don't get by swayed celebrity chefs. This is the way to move forward, to get out of these lockdowns," he said.
Mr Moon will receive a second vaccine done in early January.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia's vaccine program was "ahead of schedule", with its distribution still on track for March.
"My deep thanks to Matthew and the so many Australian healthcare workers working on the frontline overseas," he said.
"Like the many thousands of healthcare workers saving lives and protecting lives on our shores, Matthew is one of our national heroes."
A spokesperson for the Therapeutic Goods Administration said the authority was working closely with the UK and other international regulatory counterparts with available information, including real world safety data from emergency use authorisations in other countries, to be considered by the TGA as part of its rolling review.
Originally published as Aussie nurse gives COVID jab thumbs up: 'Just do it'