A 16-year-old London teen has become one of the youngest in the country to have received the Covid-19 vaccine.
Esther Rich “turned heads” when she sat down among a centre of elderly people and nurses at Harrow East Primary Care Network’s vaccination centre to receive her first vaccine.
She has an inherited blood condition, which led to the removal of her spleen when she was five.
Both she and her father have hereditary spherocytosis and are categorised as clinically extremely vulnerable, making them eligible to get the jab.
Hereditary spherocytosis is an inherited disorder where the red blood cells have an abnormal shape.
Ms Rich, who has been shielding throughout the whole year, said receiving the jab is “freeing” and cannot wait for life to return to normality.
The World Health Organisation does not recommend vaccinating under-16s, even if they are in a high-risk group.
The teen who lives in Muswell Hill,said: “When the list came out with the categories, I thought I might be able to get it early.
“But when the mail arrived, saying we could go and get the vaccine, I was so excited.
“I really couldn’t wait. It was really freeing. The experience was really quick and easy.
“I did get a few weird looks. A few turned their heads and looked at my dad and assumed maybe it would just be him receiving it, but no it was me too.
“The nurses were all really lovely. It was really efficient.”
For Ms Rich, she said the whole experience of Covid-19 has been very hard.
The pandemic was the first time, she says, that her condition has hit home.
She said: “Going from being able to be a normal teenager to being locked inside for a year was really hard.
“I miss going to school, seeing friends, going into central London.
“[The condition] is really manageable. I was ill when I was a child, and when I was five I had to have my spleen taken out.
“I’m more susceptible to coronavirus and other illnesses. It really wasn’t an issue before.
“I have a few scars but they’ve faded. You can barely see them anymore.”
Lockdown for the 16-year-old English and History A Level student and book lover has involved reading a lot of historical and dystopian fiction, as well as getting into the classics like Catcher In The Rye.
She said: “Yeah, my friends are all very jealous. I think they’re excited now though I can leave the house.
“When this is over, I really want to see my friends again, shop, go to restaurants.
“I can’t wait to go on holiday – I want to go to Croatia with my friends in the summer. I also really want to see my cousins and my Grandma Jessica.
“I really want to go to Manchester to see United play because I support them.
“I just can’t wait for this all to be over.
“But I’m feeling really good. I’ve had no post-vaccine symptoms and I feel really great. “