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“Are you happy to have the vaccine today?” The point of no return that I had dreaded and avoided the most. Not because I was anti-vaccine, but because I am trypanophobic. I am scared of needles.

According to charity Anxiety UK, a fear of needles affects up to 10 per cent of the overall population, be it a general fear of needles or a fear of injections.

Despite it being my third booster vaccination, the first two injections of the Moderna vaccine were still experiences that I didn’t want to think about.

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The first occasion was in the middle of June. Measures were being lifted. Rates were falling. The jab was the first step towards feeling free and safe after a period of just over a year that lurched in and out of three lockdowns and social isolation.

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When it came for my age group (23s and older) to have the jab, I had to ask myself a serious question: could I do it to myself? Could I find the courage to put myself through it? I was definitely not anti-vaccine, but even a half thought about having it done would make me run a mile. For the sake of seeing my loved ones, I went through with it, with the support of my fiancee.

When it came to jab day, I kept it as far away from my mind as I could. Only when I was off to the vaccination centre did I allow the panic and fear to begin to creep in.

As I walked in to the vaccination centre, gave my details and waited, my breathing suddenly quickened. I felt like running. I felt like backing out and curling up in a ball. With my fiancee’s support, I rolled up my sleeve.

Now comes the worst psychological part. The distraction technique. The worst “smoke and mirrors” trick you’ll ever see, because you know what they are trying to do and why they do it. Common patter that is blatantly forced in an attempt to take your mind off things.

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I caught a glimpse of the needle before they inserted it. I begged them to stop, which thankfully they did. Not looking is just as bad as being distracted away from thinking about it. To an extent it’s natural curiosity that I wanted to look, which is even worse.

But after my fiancee convinced me to look away, and I tried my hardest to focus, it was done. I was jabbed.

I felt it. Yes, it was a tiny pinch. Yes it was a tiny injection. But when I was sat there having it done, I felt everything as though my body went into an uber sensitive mode. But after it was done, then came the panic attack.

My breathing quickened again. My heart began to pound. It felt like a near death experience. I was sat down and I couldn’t be more safe, yet I felt like my body was shutting down. It was horrible.

I sat in my 15 minute cooling down period sipping water and wondering when this feeling will pass. But eventually, I made it through. I did it. I walked out vaccinated.

Just 12 weeks later it was near enough rinse and repeat and I was double vaccinated in August. That was, until the Omicron variant. When Boris Johnson announced the big push for all adults to be administered with a booster vaccination before the end of the year, I knew I would have to put myself through it one more time. A process I thought was done and dusted had started again andI suddenly had to psychologically take myself back to square one.

I spent last Christmas all by myself. Partly due to my own circumstances, but mainly because of the Delta variant. Since then, I have been determined and focussed, along with the majority of the population, to make Christmas 2021 as close to normality as humanly possible with my friends and loved ones. But in order to do that, I would need to be boosted.



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As booking opened for all over 18s which led to the NHS website facing long queues to book appointments, I thought there might have been a small chance it could be delayed until the New Year. But in a pocket of luck, two appointments opened up at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital yesterday (21 December). It was now or never. My fiancee and I booked again.

As we went through the corridors to the vaccination room, my previous two experiences were circulating in my head. The panic. The fear. The pinch. I didn’t want any of it. But I had no option. No amount of thoughts of how lovely the Christmas period is going to be was going to take me away from this moment.

I sat there in my Luton Town Christmas jumper and my Hulkamania wrestling t-shirt trying to keep control and to get through it. Trying to mentally prepare myself for it being over.



Reporter Luke Walsh gets his booster jab at Luton and Dunstable Hospital on December 21, 2021
A relieved reporter after getting his booster jab

But I did it. I coped. My breathing went off a bit but I was able to be boosted. As I currently write this, I only have a slightly sore arm. Otherwise I’m perfectly fine.

In short, a lot of praise has been given to NHS staff for the number of vaccines they have administered since 91-year-old Margaret Keenan was given the first vaccine last December. But not enough credit is given for their levels of understanding and care. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. They are heroes.

As for me, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated. If not for yourself, do it for your loved ones. Enough people have died in this pandemic, so it’s vital we do whatever we can to stop others losing their lives.

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