Warning: contains an image of someone receiving a vaccination!
My Mum (77) went to have her Covid vaccine yesterday, and I went with her in case she needed me to drive her home.
After the announcement on Monday 18th that over 70s would start being invited to have a vaccine, we both thought she would have a while to wait yet. But on Tuesday she got a phone call inviting her to attend North Petherton Rugby Club at 3pm the following day!
We were told not to arrive too early as the car park there is not large and so we waited in a layby to time our arrival for 2.58pm. People in high-vis jackets met us on arrival, asked if we had any symptoms before we could drive in and showed us an available parking spot. At this point no names or details were taken but the volunteer helpers told us to wait in the car and made a mental note of where we were in the queue. Once the numbers of people in the rugby club had dropped to a level that social distancing was possible, Mum was invited to make her way in. I was allowed to accompany her. She didn’t need me to but I was a) curious and b) thought she could do with some company if she had to wait around.
At the door she was asked for her name and again they checked that she didn’t have any symptoms.
In the bar area (no pints being served!) were several check-in stations spaced far apart. My Mum was asked to confirm her ID, asked again if she was feeling well, was told about the vaccine (in this case the Pfizer one) and given opportunities to ask questions or even change her mind about having it if she wanted.
She was given a leaflet and then we moved to a different seating area to wait.
All the time the NHS staff were very professional and cleaning with antiseptic wipes and providing hand sanitiser was constant. Everyone was masked up at all times.
After maybe 5 minutes or so, when enough people had moved forward so there was space again, we were lead into the area where the vaccinations were taking place. There were I think 6 private cubicles with a great distance between them.
After waiting in this seating area for another couple of minutes my Mum was lead into one of these cubicles. Friendly staff checked her medical history and what medication she was on to ensure that the vaccine was suitable, and then she had the jab. It took seconds and didn’t hurt a bit.
From there a staff member noted the time my Mum had had her jab and gave her a label with a time 10 or 15 minutes later on it, and led her to a socially distanced waiting area in a marquee. After that time had passed her name was called and she was free to go. Simple as that. The whole thing, from arrival to departure, took around 30 minutes!
All in all, despite the sadness and worry surrounding the virus there was a positive attitude with a dash of amazement among those waiting to have their jabs, a feeling of being in it together coupled, of course, with a little bit of humour. If you can’t laugh, what can you do. Feelings of pride and privilege outweighed apprehension. For me and my Mum this was the first time we had seen a group of people together (albeit at a great distance) for some time and it felt like an occasion.
She didn’t need me to drive her but I’m glad I went to see what an impressively smooth operation it was supported by friendly staff and kind volunteers.