I’ve just had my first jab. Big sister said I shouldn’t call it that, I think because it undermines the true gravity of the situation but, when it comes down to it, it is still just a jab; and I might add that writing ‘vaccination’ every time takes nearly four times as long. I’m afraid I can’t go into the personal reasons why I felt a genuine need to get one but I do have them, and now that I’m back home I don’t feel remotely guilty: I am half way to being fully vaccinated and that’s a step in the right direction. I’ve been anxious about getting it for quite a while now, it is some odd residue of my competitive nature that once I realised people younger and apparently healthier than me were getting sorted out I felt compelled to swing into action. Once I had negotiated the booking system I did feel a bit bad that I may be clogging the system unnecessarily and despite all logic suggesting the very opposite is true I have continued to feel that way.
However, there is some substance in the suggestion that if they’re offering it is pretty much the expected thing to be taking: doubtless the NHS wants as many people as possible vaccinated as soon as possible and so I am just doing my bit for the greater good. I was also getting tired of hearing the sticky remains of all those stupid conspiracy theories – one chap I know still thinks it is all a big, sinister conspiracy (though he never seems to be in a position firm enough to humour me with specifics) but is equally adamant that if not being vaccinated might jeopardise his chances of going to the pub or on holiday then he’s game, which entirely undermines all that he stands for and says (and as a result of this I am beginning to think he stands for nothing at all at talks pure nonsense).
On top of the pointless guilt, I have also been worried about the possible side effects from the jab (sorry). One friend told me they felt drunk only a few minutes after receiving theirs, though in this case it is quite conceivable that they felt drunk a few minutes before as well. Another told me they spent two days curled up on the sofa feeling rotten and another complained of a skull crumbling migraine. On the other hand Wifey seemed to have very few side effects, which was a pleasant surprise for all involved (and by that I mean the pair of us). Subsequently the thought of having to suffer too much didn’t have me clicking my heels all the way to the pharmacy, especially on a Saturday, but I reasoned that I have a deceptively robust constitution and that while I would continue to worry there was also a good chance I would bounce back quickly (or better not to have to bounce at all) and have enough reserves to pen this masterpiece soon after.
Wifey drove me to the vaccination centre (which really was a pharmacy – when and why did we stop calling them chemists?) because I didn’t want to drive home with quick onset migraine/inebriation effects, and we were guided into a parking space by a volunteer. A minute later I was sent down to the shop front, given a leaflet and a handful of antibacterial lube, had my name and appointment time taken, was given a card in advance to show I had been vaccinated and then seconds later was called forward, offered a freshly wiped seat behind a screen, asked a few quick questions, jabbed (sorry) and then sent on my way with a sticker, dutifully waving my left arm around in the manner of someone trying to thwart an attack by a persistent, yet non existent, wasp. I was inside for no more than three minutes and was back at the car five minutes before my official appointment time had started. I wasn’t interrogated or made to feel like an imposter or a crook and there wasn’t a single moment when I felt everything wasn’t totally, effortlessly under control; it almost restored my respect for humanity.
But then we had to drive through town to get home and the streets were bustling and that reminded me that clearly this is not going to get fully better in a hurry. It might not get fully better at all, ever. The place was littered with pop up food vans and clearly every loophole that could be found to be outside had been found and used. We haven’t even started phase two of the slow crawl back to (the not quite as joyful as you think you remember) life and people are already taking the piss. Come to think of it they never stopped taking the piss in the first place. Most of those out and about were younger than me and since the young clearly don’t care less I’m glad they’re not getting their jab (sorry) yet and therefore even more grateful to have got mine. That said the queue outside the garden centre was horrendously and laughably big and I doubt many of those lined up for hanging baskets and scarlet begonia seeds could be classed as whipper snappers, and so emerges a new rank in society: those who are vaccinated now and so couldn’t give a shit about anyone else. I hope I won’t become one of them, because then I’ll hate myself even more than I already do. As I post this my side effects are minimal, but you never know. Nobody ever knows.
G B Hewitt. 27.03.2021