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Vaccine volunteer Gill Cleeve who caught Covid after delaying booster says don't put yours off



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In January deputy mayor Gill Cleeve was in the Herald as a poster girl for the army of volunteers who stepped up to help with the vaccine rollout.

Now Gill, 51, is in the paper again, but this time because she has been hit by a nasty dose of the virus and she has a message for everyone in the community. Between coughing fits she told us: “Just tell everyone to get the booster and keep wearing a mask.”

Gill thinks she has caught Covid as over time the effectiveness decreases, making her more vulnerable to those that had the jab later.

Gill Cleeve training with St John's Ambulance (43930298)
Gill Cleeve training with St John's Ambulance (43930298)

As a frontline worker, giving the jab at a Birmingham vaccination centre, Gill was in the second priority group, along with those over 80 for the vaccine in January. The first priority group involved those in care homes, and their carers.

She explained: “I had my two vaccine shots early on because I volunteered to give the jab – I had my first in January and my second in April so I’m way past that six month mark that means you are eligible for a booster shot.”

However, a delay in getting that booster has led to Gill’s current illness. She explained: “Last Monday I woke up with a cough and took a lateral flow test and booked in straight away for a PCR test and that came back positive on the Tuesday, which was the day I was due to get my booster shot.

“The annoying thing was I could have had the booster two weeks before but I was also giving blood then – and you can’t give blood within seven days of getting the vaccine. So I thought oh I’ll give blood and then do the vaccine and rebook. It feels like karma – but I was trying to do a good thing.”

Cllr Gill Cleeve who is currently training to administer the coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Mark Williamson. G1/1/21/9112 (43856277)
Cllr Gill Cleeve who is currently training to administer the coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Mark Williamson. G1/1/21/9112 (43856277)

Regretting the delay, she said: “It’s my fault I didn’t go for it immediately. I’ve been so careful too – wearing a mask even when we didn’t have to.” Interestingly, Gill says her household of five, which includes her husband, Giles, 50, and daughter Danni, 15, is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the vaccine and booster.

“My elderly in-laws live with us, and they have had their boosters and it’s interesting that Mum, 77, has remained negative and that although Dad, 83, has tested positive for Covid, it’s very mild and his only symptom is a rash and he’s not been ill – just grumpy that he has to isolate,” said Gill.

“So of the five of us in the house the two of us who have got Covid are me, who hasn’t had the booster, and Danni, who is yet to have her first vaccine dose – she has a mild case, mainly tired with a headache. We’re a classic example of ‘yes the booster and the vaccine work’.”

After another hacking coughing fit, Gill continued: “I’ve not been this ill in my adult life, I can’t get out of bed. I think if I hadn’t had the vaccines it would have been worse. My message is get the booster. I regret not doing it as soon as possible.

“I’ve gone through 20 months working on the frontline not catching Covid, and thought what do two more weeks matter? It turns out the difference is not having Covid versus having Covid.”



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