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I feel fine! Why my jab gave me confidence for Covid-19 recovery

What’s it going to feel like? As I headed to the Brighton Centre to get my first dose of the Covid vaccine, that was the main question running through my head.

I wasn’t worrying about whether the vaccine was going to hurt, or any side effects – I’d had enough reports from other people to know what to expect.

The thing I was desperate to know was what it was going to feel like being in a conference venue with hundreds of other people. After all, this was the first time in more than a year that I would be having that experience.

As well as getting the vaccine, I felt I’d also be getting a glimpse of the new normal for eventprofs – and my first taste of how I’d actually been affected by 12 months of lockdown. Would I want to be in an event space?

On arrival, the registration process and the flow of people through the building was seamless. Everything worked perfectly; we were comfortably spaced out, it never felt crowded or rushed. I couldn’t have been put more at ease.

After registering and confirming that yes, I was eligible, and yes, I did want the vaccine, I headed upstairs to the main auditorium, Brighton Centre’s largest space and the place where the jabs were being administered.

A lifetime ago

The queue snaked round and very quickly I found myself being guided towards booth 1A, where the deed would be done. During the brief wait, I looked around the room, remembering the last time I’d been there, on an M&IT night out to see Blondie cranking out the hits. Afterwards we’d hit the Hotel du Vin round the corner for cocktails, leading to a very fuzzy head the next day. It seemed a lifetime ago.

I glanced around the room, huge curtains on each wall, trying to work out where the stage would have been. The NHS steward at the booth clocked me.

“Trying to work out where the stage is?”, he asked, pointing it out.

“It’s a bit different from the last time I was here,” I said. Then, the man waiting at the booth next to me piped up, “It’s the first time I’ve ever been in this room sober!”

“You’re not the first person to say that”, laughed the steward.

There’s been a lot of talk about delegate confidence, and whether people will have the desire to return to face to face events when restrictions are lifted – whether they’ll be in the right headspace.

But with that little interaction, my fears were allayed. Despite the deeply unusual circumstances, here we were, still able to meet, connect with people, laugh and enjoy ourselves. It may have been more than a year, but I’d slipped right back into meetings mode with barely a bump.

As a man called Greg pushed the vaccine into my upper arm and handed me a card to prove I’d had it, I felt hugely relieved and reassured that, yes, people are going to want to meet again – and can be made to feel safe doing so.

It was, almost too literally, a real shot in the arm.

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