MILLIONS of people across the country have received a Covid vaccine, with the latest figures suggesting one in three adults has now had the jab.

One of the Gazette's reporters was among those to receive the vaccine this week at The Hampshire Court Hotel in Basingstoke.

Here, she shares her experience of what to expect.

"A text message from my GP surgery informed me that my time had come to receive a Covid vaccine, with a link to book online.

The process was simple and easy, directing me to an appointment booking system with various dates and times to choose from.

The earliest was in four days’ time on a Saturday evening at The Hampshire Court Hotel.

Although I know where the hotel is, the signage was clear and plentiful as I approached the venue, making it easy for those not familiar with the area.

I felt slightly overwhelmed as I drove into the car park. There was something about arriving in the dark, with volunteers wearing head lights and shining torches to direct us that brought home the enormity of what we have all been through this last year.

It felt surreal and unprecedented - a word that has been used extensively in recent months, but which best describes the situation.

An army of friendly volunteers were controlling the cars coming in with ease and precision, leaving no room for confusion or error.

I had already spoken to three people within 20 seconds of arriving in the car park - one who asked if I had an appointment and directed me forward, the next who gave me a leaflet advising me it was a legal document adding "but no one will know if you don't read it" and the third directing me into a parking space and informing me to wait in my car until physically called inside.

I was impressed. Everything had been considered to ensure the operation ran smoothly, efficiently and with ease for those of us having the jab.

It felt surreal being at the Hampshire Court. The last time I was there was for a party. I had been dressed up, dancing with my friends having an amazing time.

Such frivolities seemed a lifetime away as I sat in my car waiting to be called in for a jab in my arm to protect me against a deadly virus.

I know several people who have already had the vaccine, one of whom had a bit of a wait in the car, so I went prepared with a flask of tea and a book.

As a car pulled up next to me, I caught the eye of the man inside and we shared a smile while both switching on our inside light to scour the leaflet.

It was then I saw I would be having the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. Others I know have had the Pfizer.

I watched from my car as the volunteers worked hard, expertly directing in cars while a steady flow of people went in and out of the hotel.

Within ten minutes a woman was stood in front of my car gesturing for me to go inside.

Helpful volunteers lined the route, pointing me in the right direction.

At the entrance someone was physically expressing hand sanitiser to everyone.

I was directed into the main hall of the hotel which had been sectioned off with screens up to separate different areas.

I don't think I have been in the same room as so many people in such close proximity for a year, but everyone was socially distanced and wearing masks, and the doors were wide open keeping the air well ventilated.

I sat facing three others in a square. It was noisy and busy as volunteers and staff rushed around with purpose.

Within five minutes two people came over, asked me a few questions, confirmed who I was and asked which arm I would like the injection.

Being right-handed I chose the left, and then the jab was administered. I felt barely anything and it certainly didn't hurt.

I was then given a card with a date to have my next jab, an all-important sticker saying 'I've had my Covid jab' and off I could go.

I must have shown surprise when I was advised I could leave. Those I know who had the Pfizer vaccine had to sit and wait for 15 minutes afterwards.

But it was explained that this isn't necessary with the Oxford AstraZeneca.

I was also advised that some people had been experiencing mild flu symptoms 24 to 48 hours after receiving the vaccine, and to take paracetamol if this happened.

Then off I went, attempting to thank every volunteer I passed on my way out who are doing a tremendous job.

I have several friends who are volunteers and I could not be prouder of their efforts. Without them, the programme would not be possible.

As I got in my car a wave of emotion came over me as I realised the momentous occasion.

I felt relief that I would finally have some form of protection in a few weeks against this awful virus that has consumed our lives for the last year, and pride at the great success of the vaccination programme and all the staff and volunteers making it run so smoothly.

It was easy to feel sceptical about the vaccination programme before it began.

The last year has been disappointment after disappointment, full of broken promises and expectations that are never met.

But the vaccination programme has been a success beyond expectation.

It has been a triumph and one which we should all be proud of.

That night I had no side effects at all, not even an achy arm.

When I woke up my arm felt slightly achy to move, but not bad enough to take paracetamol. I went about my normal activities with no problems.

That evening I felt more tired than usual, but then that may have had nothing to do with the vaccine.

Three days after the vaccine, the only lasting side-effect was a very slightly achy arm which only hurt if I knocked it.

The vaccination programme is key to ending lockdown restrictions as we build up immunity to the virus as a population.

For this reason, it is hoped that everyone takes up their invite to have the jab when their time comes.

I’m now counting down the weeks until my second vaccine in May, after which I will be much better protected against Covid."