Fully Jabbed

I’m really slacking with this blogging thing at the moment. My last post was five weeks ago and merely mentioned that I’d had my first Pfizer jab. And the most interesting thing that has happened to me since then is that I had my second jab today.

And even that wasn’t very interesting. The process was just as smooth as before and I am not (so far) feeling any side effects. Kudos, though, to the man who brought an eBook with him so that he would have something to do during the fifteen minute post-jab wait. I wish I’d done that.

Tomorrow I can download the CovidSafe app and in a couple of weeks time I will be as CovidSafe as I can be.

Jabbed: Part One

I had my first Pfizer jab yesterday and it all went remarkably smoothly — from turning up at the vaccination centre to sitting down in the post-jab waiting room, the whole process only took about ten minutes.

And, after the compulsory 15 minute wait, I went out for a drink, because of course I did.

And in five week’s time I have to do it all over again for the second jab.

Crisis averted

Long term readers of this blog may remember The Haggis Crisis of 2021 and the news that the British Store online had been forced to suspend taking orders due to Brexit related supply issues.

I have, of course, been watching the site ever since and am inappropriately happy to report that, when I returned home on Wednesday, I found that they had re-opened. Of course, I immediately ordered as much as I could and it all turned up today.

I now intend on spending the rest of the day overdosing on Treacle and Lemon Curd.

Leaving Lockdown

One positive bit of news that I almost missed is that Belgium now has a plan for leaving lockdown. The plan is, as ever, dependent on vaccination schedules but we should see a re-opening of restaurants and cinemas on June 9th.

Restaurants are already able to open their terraces to groups of four or less who want to sit outside, but with the upcoming easing of restrictions, we will be able to sit indoors a well.

As for the cinemas reopening, it’s not a moment too soon:

Things are looking up.

Hypertension

I’ve been a bit quiet over the past week or so, both online and off, and there’s a reason for this. On Sunday 9th May — Mother’s Day in Belgium — I discovered, quite spectacularly, that I suffer from hypertension and have just spent the last week and a half in hospital.

This proved to be quite a surprise to me because I never get ill. Over the course of my career I have take a grand total of one day off ill, so I was slightly shocked to be told that I have been suffering from this for the past ten years. The doctors were surprised, too, and I have found myself having to answer several slightly incredulous questions.

The main challenge for the hospital has been finding a combination of drugs that can safely keep my blood pressure withing reasonable levels. Having concluded that the best combination for me is all of them, they have finally let me go.

Not surprisingly, I’ve done very little — well, nothing — while in hospital and have a bit of catching up to do. So if you suddenly see me popping up on week-old blog posts, now you know why.

Take care of yourselves, folks, and make sure you see a doctor more regularly than I do (did). You never know what might be lurking.

Charismatic minifauna

There is something about wasp related news that really appeals to me. That said, I have no qualms about murdering the wee beasties when the build a nest in my own garden.

A new study into how the many species of stinging wasps contribute both to the ecosystem and human society, however, suggests that a more live and let live attitude might be in order.

“Wasps are one of those insects we love to hate – and yet bees, which also sting, are prized for pollinating our crops and making honey,” the study’s lead author, Professor Seirian Sumner of UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, told Eurekalert.

“In a previous study, we found that the hatred of wasps is largely due to widespread ignorance about the role of wasps in ecosystems, and how they can be beneficial to humans.”

Not only do they pollinate 960 species of plant — 164 of which depend on the wasp entirely — they also keep crops free from pests in their role as apex predator. The pest control aspect is not new, though, with Brazil farmers using live wasps for pest control as far back as 2013.

According to Professor Sumner:

Wasps are understudied relative to other insects like bees, so we are only now starting to properly understand the value and importance of their ecosystem services. Here, we have reviewed the best evidence there is, and found that wasps could be just as valuable as other beloved insects like bees, if only we gave them more of a chance.

I’m all for giving wasps more of a chance. Especially if they nest in someone else’s garden.

Unpausing

The Easter Pause didn’t have as much impact as hoped but the Covid numbers have been deemed to be enough under control for the break to end on Monday, as planned. This means, among other things, that people can meet outside in groups of up to ten, we no longer need to make an appointment to go shopping and hairdressers and other non-medical contact professions can re-open with restrictions. I think I need a haircut again.

The big news, though, is that bars and restaurants with terraces can reopen on 8th May. There are a number of restrictions, but these amount to: go with a small group, or your household; stay seated; and be out by 10:00. Not all restaurants are going to be able to re-open because the tables have to be at least 1.5 metres apart, but I’m feeling optimistic.

May 8th is also when restrictions on youth club activities start to bee loosened, with a further relaxation (provisionally, as always) on 25th June. This should mean that the boys will be able to go on summer camp this year.

This, of course, all depends on people getting vaccinated so it’s good to see that the Belgian vaccination campaign is receiving something of a boost, with the delivery of nearly 900,000 coronavirus vaccines. This, along with the minimum age limit for the AstraZeneca vaccine being lowered will, hopefully, see the schedule speeding up a bit.

According to the Flemish Health Minister, Flanders is expecting to have half of it’s population vaccinated by the end of May, at which point things can start returning to normal.

Here’s hoping that we can all look forward to August.

Feels like 2020

With Coronavirus indicators continuing to rise, it came as a surprise to no-one that Belgium is going into lockdown again. This was announced yesterday and the new restrictions take effect on Monday.

The new and tightened rules all amount to reducing the numbers of contacts we have with each other, with aim of having a short, hard lockdown now in order to avoid longer lasting one later.

For us, the main impact is that schools are closed next week. Macsen has end-of-term exams, which are permitted but we will have to wait to hear from the school as to how these will be organised. As for William and Alexandre, we are also waiting to hear from their school whether any online learning will be organised or if they are going to have a three-week Easter break.

Non-essential journeys within Belgium are still allowed and the zoos remain open, so even with these new restrictions we’re not entirely trapped. Just as long as none of us tries to talk to anyone.

Great Minds

In the comments of yesterday’s post, I suggested (slightly flippantly) that if France and Germany didn’t want their AstraZeneca vaccines, they could be used to speed up the vaccination process in Belgium.

Great minds think alike.

Belgium has asked pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the surplus vaccine doses from the countries that have temporarily put the company’s jabs on hold over recent concerns about possible side effects.

Jabtastic!

On speaking too soon

While rambling yesterday about the Coronavirus, I suggested (not as directly as I thought I had) that the availability of vaccines provided a way out of this pandemic. They do, but there are still delays.

The biggest coronavirus vaccination centre in Belgium, Heysel, did not open its doors on Monday after the delay in deliveries of AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines resulted in hundreds of appointments being cancelled.

AstraZeneca announced last week that it would only be able to deliver 500,000 coronavirus vaccines to Belgium, 200,000 fewer than promised, and Moderna said it would be delivering just 94,800 doses this week, leaving centres with reduced supply.

Then again, this is why any plans we make are very provisional.