What a difference a year makes… comparing diary entries from this time in 2020 with last weekend

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IT’S official, Jersey moves into level three of its Safe Exit Framework tomorrow. We will be able to meet with up to five people from outside of our household, be out of our homes for up to six hours a day and more shops (large ones with space for social distancing) are to be open. Lots of pubs and restaurants are gearing up to open using their al-fresco areas from tomorrow.

I’m not sure how I feel about it all to be honest. On the one hand it can only be good for the economy. On the other, I’m nervous for what this means for the spread of the virus. Are we still going for a herd immunity plan and assuming some of us are just going to get it? It certainly seems like it. And maybe that is what is best, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

My husband says if in a theoretical situation we were offered the chance to catch Covid-19 now and get it out of the way he would probably say yes. I wouldn’t. After all, isn’t there still a, even small, chance it could kill you as a healthy person? For me why take that chance? It kind of seems the same with coming out of lockdown now.

When schools go back, however, I imagine it will force me to relax a bit. After all, my son will be coming into contact with lots of others from different households. No matter what measures schools take it won’t be a sterile environment.

Again, if it was a choice would I send him back to school now? I am not sure. It would mean being even more careful when delivering shopping to my dad, who is high risk.

We can limit contact though and be extra careful. I’d just rather someone told me what to do on the schools question, don’t give me a choice.

Boris Johnson unveils his next moves for easing lockdown slightly in the UK. My son (he’s five) is very sweet and asks if he can watch the speech too, but it is bedtime and we are soon distracted. Boris doesn’t actually say much really, but hotels and restaurants are looking at at least mid-July before they can open, and there will be a two-week quarantine for people arriving into the UK but the CI, Isle of Man, Ireland, and it later turns out France too, will be exempt.

Monday 11 May

CHIEF Minister John Le Fondré starts the day with a press conference announcing the details of our official move today into Level 3 – soft lockdown. Lots of businesses are preparing to reopen, including shops over 7,000 sq/ft. Voisins, for example, will open tomorrow. Islandwide testing, however, has been put on hold. The Nightingale Hospital is officially opened today by Sophie, Countess of Wessex. We don’t go out for a walk today as it’s really windy, but I head to the supermarket after dinner. I now have our weekly bread and milk supplies down to a fine art – three blue, three green milks and three loaves – one for the freezer – is about right to see us through a week. I also drop my dad some essentials.

Wednesday 13 May

STILL no comment locally on when schools could go back or how that might work. I think it’s weird we have heard so little here. My son’s school has been excellent, though, sending just the right amount of work home via the Seesaw app. And there isn’t any pressure to do it at all to be honest.

We have found the best way is to stick to it and then at least there’s an aim and some routine. We make a new sticker chart each week and he gets a star every time he completes a task. It helps us keep track as much as him. It’s hard work at times, and intense. But we know we are lucky – we are happy and healthy. It would still be nice to have a crystal ball to see how this is going to go, however…

Fast forward to…Saturday 8 May 2021

TODAY’S the day – it’s vaccination time. My husband and I have booked in for some of the first appointments available for our age group. As a pregnant woman I’ve done my research, watched the videos provided by the Government of Jersey and am confident in my decision to have the vaccine. It would be great if some of the protection could pass to the baby before he’s born too.

I will only be offered Pfizer or Moderna as there’s too little evidence about the AstraZeneca’s use in pregnancy at the moment. It then emerged yesterday that all under-40s will be offered only those two vaccines anyway due to the risks – which are very, very small but there – of blood clots in younger people with the AstraZeneca one.

We head to the Fort Regent Vaccination Centre not knowing what to expect and are pleasantly surprised to find no queues. Instead we take a seat in the waiting area, lined up on chairs separated by a couple of metres and it feels like we are in an exam hall. It’s fascinating watching the processes unfold in front of us, the systems that are in place and the way the staff keep a track of who is next and which chairs need cleaning as people move.

Within ten minutes or so we are moved on to the ‘check in’ area together as a couple, which is nice to be able to stay together. A very friendly woman checks our IDs and dates of birth and very quickly we are sent on to the next stage – waiting for our vaccine.

Again it takes only a couple of minutes before we are being seen. The injection turns out to be no more painful than the annual flu jab and is quick. We are handed our little cards as proof of our first dose and that’s that – just 15 minutes to wait to check we don’t have any kind of reaction and we are free to go.

As we leave we both do ‘windmills’ with our arms – someone mentioned it’s meant to help the vaccine disperse and your arm be less achey. Probably an old wives’ tale but worth a try. The woman who administered our first dose also advised when we go back for our second to take two paracetamol an hour before and it will help with the side effects, which are meant to be more pronounced after your second jab because it really wakes up your immune system.

All in all getting vaccinated was a really smooth, calm process and we felt looked after from beginning to end. I wasn’t treated any differently because I was pregnant which was reassuring in itself as it reminded me that I, like so many other people around me, am just following medical advice and trying to protect myself and my unborn child.

Getting vaccinated is, of course, a personal choice, but for me it was an easy one. Roll on dose number two.

Thinking back to a year ago to homeschooling, juggling work with looking after a five year old, talk of herd immunity and no clue when or if there would be a vaccine, the anxiety of what may or may not be to come when restrictions were eased a bit at a time, it almost doesn’t seem real – like it happened to someone else somewhere else. I can see why some people have found getting their vaccine an emotional experience.

Today, the kids have been back at school for months, staff are back in offices across the Island and we can go out for dinner with as many people as we want to. We met friends at the zoo this weekend, ate dinner out two nights running, popped to my dad’s just to ‘hang out’ and actually went into his house without worrying and we have family coming to stay from the UK in a few weeks. I even left the house without hand sanitiser the other day.

In Jersey there’s just one active case of Covid-19 and we haven’t had evidence of community transmission for more than 40 days. In the UK daily deaths from the virus are down to almost zero and infection rates are much, much lower making a lot of the country green on Jersey’s safe travel system.

There’s talk of a potential third wave this winter, however, and discussions are underway about booster vaccinations for over-50s. Other countries are still suffering badly, with India currently in an awful state. It’s an important reminder that ‘this funny thing’, as our son took to calling it for so long, is not over yet. But what a difference a year has made.

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