When I applied to run a schedule of crafts, quizzes and bingo at a local care home for the elderly, I hadn’t realised this would qualify me as an ‘essential worker’. Surely, this is people the country can’t do without like police officers, nurses or teachers not bingo callers. However, upon enquiring, I was informed that my role is vital for mental wellbeing so I am in the club. Incidentally, I was amused during a recent government press conference when a scientist advised against ‘going with reckless abandon to places like bingo halls’. It seems telling that, for him, bingo counts as reckless abandon.
At the end of last week, I got an email saying my ‘special status’ qualifies me for my first Pfizer vaccination against covid and I was to book an appointment. The odd thing about this is that the residents at the care home are yet to receive this privilege and the vaccine does not prevent us transmitting to them. So much for protecting the most vulnerable.
The second slightly odd thing is that despite having a vaccination centre a ten minute walk from home, I was being sent 17 miles away to the other side of the county. The 7:30pm appointment time wasn’t great either. I phoned up to ask but was politely told it is ‘not possible’ for the booking to be altered. Oh well, I thought, I shouldn’t complain too much, I realise I am in a privileged position getting the vaccination months ahead of others in my age group.
I was surprisingly calm about the vaccination itself. There are many people who are very hesitant, and I work with (at least) three health workers who are declining the offer due to a variety of conspiracy theories but none of that interests me. However, I don’t have a great history with medical stuff. At school, I would predictably faint when medical procedures were discussed, it became a running joke. Even today, I can’t get through a first aid course without becoming a casualty. I get clammy, lightheaded and then make my escape at the very mention of counting chest compressions or the Heimlich manoeuvre but this didn’t really bother me.
As I don’t drive, I took a taxi on the 17 mile journey in the dark through driving rain and puddles deep enough to take a bath in. Was that wise? I guess the taxi driver was just glad of the business.
My email told me to follow the signs towards ‘coarse fishing’ which made me think it was nice of them to sort out the foul-mouthed fishermen from the more family friendly variety. The vaccination centre was round the back and upon my arrival was in full swing. It was an impressive operation, eight rooms each of four people, changing round every ten minutes. I had to bring my appointment letter and some photo ID but neither was looked at, perhaps because it was 7:30pm and a heavily tattooed bodybuilder in a tight t-shirt/face mask combo appeared in front of me with a laptop asking me to confirm my address. It was somewhere I hadn’t lived for years but he said that wasn’t important.
“How are you with needles” he asked.
“They are not my favourite” I replied. Mr muscles reacted like this was the most hysterical thing he had ever heard but thankfully, the procedure itself was painless and no ambulance was required.
On my departure I was presented with an appointment card for 11 weeks time. Clearly a meeting was held, some people thought it should be ten weeks, others twelve and a compromise was arrived at. At this point, my ID was examined. Perhaps a little too late.
The journey back was even more ‘exciting’ as the pounding rain turned into thick snow. I closed my eyes and turned the music on my headphones up louder. Due to the ongoing lockdown a medical appointment in a blizzard was my first night out in weeks and the first time I left my town in months. I wonder if the next time will be in April for my follow-up dose? Either way, it is done now and I can’t help feeling like I am one tiny step closer to getting back to normal.