Whether you’ve already had your COVID vaccine or are waiting for your time, I would like to share with you my story, writes Alex, a senior carer at Marnel Lodge in Popley.

I honestly believe that if I hadn’t had the COVID vaccination, I wouldn’t be here now.

Let me start by telling you about me. My name is Alex and I have been at Marnel Lodge for three years now.

I worked all through since the start of lockdown in March 2020, despite being advised by my doctors and manager that I should stay at home due to an underlying medical conditions.

But I just couldn’t sit at home knowing that the team and residents were all still at risk. I wanted to be with them and help keep them safe. They are my family and I love them all dearly and it was my choice to continue to work as much as I could to protect them all.

I also have a family at home, who are also classed as vulnerable which meant that I would have to also protect them by not spending the time with them. We all have to do our part and protect the ones we love and I am lucky to have so many that I consider to be my family and have been able to keep them safe as possible.

When I found out about the vaccine and that it would be issued to residents and staff, I was truly excited. I felt honoured when my manager called me to prioritise me, along with residents, at the first opportunity available on January 1, 2021. It was a great start to the New Year and I had the pleasure of having my vaccine along with Marnel’s home ambassador, Peter.

Unfortunately, along came the new highly contagious strain. I sadly contracted Covid four weeks after receiving the jab. When I first learned that I had tested positive, I was truly shocked. I had no symptoms whatsoever apart from a little tiredness. If I hadn’t of had the vaccine, I really do believe that I wouldn’t be here now.

I have always been the one that leads by principles in the family and to think that my children and grandchildren would have to go on with their lives without my influence really made me sad.

But after a couple of days of sitting around waiting for the symptoms to show it was clear that the vaccine had done its job and my mental strength returned and even felt mentally strong enough to clean the dreaded cooker.

To those who haven’t been fortunate enough to have received the vaccine yet, I couldn’t encourage everyone enough to have the vaccine as soon as they become eligible. It really does save lives and I know it saved mine. I will be forever grateful.

I am so very proud of all my colleagues that have decided to have the vaccine as they believe in the purpose of it and it shows how much it protects all of our family at Marnel Lodge.

When the home ambassador, Peter, learned of my story, we created a line “I kicked the Spikey” and Marek our lifestyle coordinator made us a t-shirt with our new slogan on.

Sebastian Wiencelewski, general manager at Marnel Lodge, said: “I am so very proud of all the team at Marnel Lodge as during these lockdowns they have worked endlessly and tirelessly to ensure Residents at Marnel has kept as safe as possible whilst ensuring their day to day lives are as normal as can be during these difficult times”

Marnel Lodge is run by Barchester Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest care providers, which is committed to delivering high-quality care across its care homes and hospitals. Marnel Lodge provides Nursing care, residential care and respite care.