Jemma Johnson, 35, from Sunderland is facilities manager for QE Facilities Ltd, a subsidiary of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust. She is urging everyone to get fully vaccinated as her Covid vaccine was the difference between a trip to A&E and a quick recovery.
She has worked throughout the pandemic managing 250 domestic staff who ensure the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Bensham and other Gateshead sites are clean and safe. We caught up with the NHS frontline worker to chat about her experience.
“In October 2020 we were flat out working. It was hectic but very rewarding. It was during this time I didn’t feel very well. So I went to get tested and it was positive. My poor husband Barrie worried when I was struggling to breathe and rang an ambulance. And they came to get me, I was admitted to critical care.
“I was in critical care for almost a week and stayed in hospital for about three weeks on Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). While in hospital I was tired and desperate to go home. It was a scary time.
“When I did go home it took several weeks to recover. In total I was off work for nearly eight weeks.
Then at the start of July this year I tested positive for Covid again. This time round however I was fully vaccinated. While the first time round I was hospitalised this time round I experienced flu-like symptoms.
I was off work for a week to recover at home and worked from home the following week. After two weeks I was back to work. It was nothing like the first time I had Covid.
“All I kept thinking when I was recovering at home was ‘that's because of the vaccination’. There's a huge difference between catching covid with the vaccine and not.
“While restrictions have eased I’d like to urge everyone to remain vigilant. Covid is still here. We need to live with the virus and reduce the spread. From wearing a mask in crowded spaces to getting fully vaccinated we can all do our bit to protect each other.”