I had been waiting for a few days for the letter to come. The letter to invite me for my very own vaccination. The NHS wrote to me last week, and I duly went to the webpage indicated, and entered data onto the forms. That worked fine - what wasn't so fine was the only vaccination centres the NHS offered me were not so easy to get to. The best was the centre of Cambridge, the others miles away and I mean miles.
It was a big relief when my GP's surgery contacted me independently and the centres they were offering were very much closer and easier to get. So sorry NHS I booked up to go to the community centre in Milton this afternoon. Google Maps on the iPhone guided me to the centre which was well organised, a lot of helpful stewards directing people around. I had to wait to park as someone manoeuvred a large vehicle backwards, but I still had plenty of time to waste so I walked around a bit so as not to be too early.
As it transpired while in theory I had a set time to be there in practice one could turn up within reason when one felt like. I guess a different day probably wouldn't work but an hour or two didn't matter. I was also lulled into a false sense of security by how short the queue was I could see. So I confirmed to one of the stewards I hadn't been abroad that morning and headed off for the end of the queue. And discovered it wasn't a short queue of a handful of people but a long queue which snaked around the side of the building and then a recreation ground!
The queue did move quite quickly so it wasn't as bad as it seemed. A steward was processing the people in the queue, asking them questions which she wrote down on a bit of paper she gave them. Name date of birth and post code. It was a surprise when I saw her name tag as I recognised the name! She (Caroline) recognised my name too and we had a little chat. We didn't recognise each other by face as we were wearing masks. Not everyone was. A young guy who could have been Middle Eastern was eschewing any face covering, perhaps he had some condition which meant he couldn't wear a mask. I did raise my mask once or twice for some sips of water.
While I was having my bit of paper filled in an elderly race-course tout like individual sneaked into the queue in front of me. On being advised that he should join the end of the queue which was further along he went off in a huff, threatening he wasn't going to have a vaccination after all. One way of expressing outrage at not being allowed to queue jump.
After not too long I reached the entrance room, where I handed over the piece of paper temporarily to a girl with a HP Thinkpad. She confirmed the first line of my address and handed the paper back. I also was told do some hand sanitisation and collect a leaflet about the AstraZeneca vaccine we were going to be injected. The entrance room held a second queue which involved standing on spots on the floor, and moving when the next spot was free. I did consider trying to do a standing jump from spot to spot but 2 metres is beyond my physical abilities.
That didn't take long and I stood in the doorway of the main hall, where there were people who had been punctured sitting in chairs in the middle, and a number of booths for the puncturing round two walls. It was only seconds before I was directed to number 6 and the expert ministrations of Sue and Sara. They asked me if I was taking rat poison which I wasn't. I had a little difficulty getting my right arm limp enough for Sara to do the business (best was to just let the arm hang down). It didn't take long and I was given a card celebrating the event and a sticker too.
I didn't sit with the others in the hall, but in my car so I could take my mask off. I had brought a crossword book to help pass the time. I did feel a little off, a little queasy perhaps, but still able to drive back from Milton to the homestead. The side effects didn't kick in until late at night. I started shivering as if I was in the arctic, trembling. Later on I felt hot like I was in the desert sun. Couldn't sleep at all. The day after I got a streaming cold.