Mask wearing and healthcare access - part 2

Read part 1 (from 2020) here.

The post below was written in January 2022

I got my first Covid vaccination in March last year.  At the time I was working for the NHS and therefore was able to get the vaccination as early as January.  The issue I had was being able to have the jab without having to wear a mask.  I and my colleagues tried to find out how this could happen and it took weeks of contradictory information, several dead ends and various managers escalating it before the final advice was to phone my GP surgery.  They were great, and I was able to book an appointment.

I turned up at the vaccination centre wearing my sunflower lanyard* and was challenged twice about why I was not wearing a mask, which should not have happened.  I started to have a shutdown so handed over my piece of paper with all the answers to questions I might face written on it.  I knew a shutdown was likely so I had come prepared with a way of communicating when I am unable to speak.  

The same thing happened at my second jab appointment (I had the bit of paper again) and at the booster appointment.

During this period I had not been challenged anywhere else about not wearing a mask, although I had opted to avoid situations where I might be challenged, as I knew the adverse effect this would have on my health.  I was able to go to a comedy show without the mask and was not challenged anywhere, nor was I challenged at the petrol station when I went in to pay.  These were the only times I went indoors anywhere masks were required since they became mandatory back in 2022.

I have needed regular blood tests during this period to monitor a possible condition, and have experienced some issues getting these appointments without a mask.  For all instances I have either isolated for 5-7 days before the test, and once LFTs became available, have also taken one of these tests before going for the blood test.  

The issues I have faced with access to healthcare services have left me feeling unable to make my own doctors appointments; it has become a triggering issue for me and I have really struggled with it.  

The good news is that I just took the opportunity, in a rare moment of positivity and confidence, to make an appointment for the next blood test.  It went fine and I was not challenged.  It seems that the situation has calmed down a little, and that people are more aware that some of us have genuine reasons why we can't wear masks.  I hope that I will get through the appointment with no problems, but I am really happy that I managed to do a very difficult thing that I have been anxious about for 6 to 7 weeks now.

In order to maintain my current mental positivity I am going to create no further demands on me for the rest of the day and withdraw into the comfort of my inner sanctum.


*for readers outside the UK, a sunflower lanyard denotes that you have a hidden disability and may need more time, extra help, or in the case of the pandemic, are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons.

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