Nurse battling incurable cancer shares experience of receiving 'lifeline' of second covid vaccine jab
Sarah Ward, from Jarrow, was one of the first from South Tyneside to receive the Covid vaccine in December 2020 after being classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
The 48-year-old has been locked in a seven year battle with ‘incurable’ breast cancer and has to undergo regular oral chemotherapy at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead for the ‘rest of her life.’
A mum to daughter Emily Ward, 12, Sarah said it felt emotional to receive both Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at Seaham Primary Care.
After having her first dose on Wednesday, December 16, Sarah received her second jab on Wednesday, January 6, just before the time between the vaccines was extended to three months apart.
On her experience, Sarah said: “When I went for the first jab there were quite a lot of emotional people there.
"People felt relieved that they were getting it.
"I also felt relieved, it was like a weight off my shoulders.
“I sat and cried for 10 minutes in the car from the relief of it.
“You still have to go on with social distancing and face masks, but it is a little bit of comfort knowing you have the vaccine on board in case anything does happen."
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March last year Sarah was among those listed as ‘extremely vulnerable’ and was told by the Government she must shield.
After seven months in isolation the mum-of-one was determined to return to work in her role as an auxiliary nurse at South Tyneside Hospital, despite her cancer battle.
But as the North East was put into lockdown once again Sarah was told that she would need to step back from her frontline role because she is ‘high risk’.
The news came as a ‘frustrating’ blow to Sarah, but now she has been left overjoyed at receiving both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine which she hopes will be the first step in returning to work when lockdown is lifted.
"I’m desperate to get back to work,” she said.
"I’m on medical suspension until February 22, it all depends on whether we go into a tier after that but I probably won’t be able to go back onto the covid ward.
"I will have to go to a different ward to work.
“But as long as the lockdown stays I will have to stay off work, which is really frustrating.”
Sarah said that although she experienced a short period of achiness after getting the jab, she said her ongoing chemotherapy treatment which she has received alongside both vaccines could have been a factor.
Sarah hopes sharing her experience of having the vaccine will encourage others who are offered the jab to take it.
She said: "I have had neighbours asking me what it was like getting it and I would advise anybody to get the vaccine as it is a vaccine to protect them at the end of the day.
"It is a lifeline."