I MUST admit that I was one of the sceptics and was in no hurry to get the vaccine.
That was until a lady friend got me registered in early April and one of my sisters made sure to send me regular words of persuasion to go for it, then she recruited her son to assist her.
About a week after my name was submitted, my mobile rang and a male voice said he was calling from “North West”—which is also the title of my dog Lucy’s veterinary service, so I was caught off-guard—telling me that I had an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine on May 21 at Carenage Health Centre.
So I thought I had more than a month to think about it, and maybe forget about it, even though many of my friends were going out of their way to secure the shot, some lining up for something other than a doubles or a rum and soda.
There were others, of course, who did not hesitate to say they weren’t going to get it, or they were watching and waiting for now.
And I was in that latter group, checking on my guinea pig acquaintances post-vaccine, most with no side effects, or one or two who suffered chills and fever and a headache.
I knew I had to get it eventually, but being one of the world’s great procrastinators I was in no rush to count myself among the vaccinated and join the herd.
Then, out of the blue just after noon last Saturday, I got another call from a very pleasant young lady who said I could go to the Queen’s Park Savannah at nine o’clock Sunday morning for the vaccine.
My first response was that I had to work that day—which was true, and I got a vision of cold sweating over the keyboard in the newsroom thanks to the vaccine—so she offered to bring forward my time to 8 a.m., which I quickly turned down as I need my beauty sleep. And then she wanted to put it at 4 p.m., so I had to tell her I’d still be at work.
Eventually, she gave me a number for North West to see if I could go another day, but also telling me if I went on Sunday, to make sure to walk with a form of ID and my immunisation card if I had one.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that I was a big coward and was just delaying the inevitable, not after she had been so helpful and accommodating.
And thanks to her, I actually convinced myself that I should go, especially as when the vaccines were in final testing last year, I told myself that if I took any it would be the Oxford-AstraZeneca one, which is what we have here now but might not be available when I finally summed up the courage to get it.
There was also encouragement from my daughters in foreign lands and the lady friend, who had got hers two days before, as well as my sister, who was also going on Sunday, and my nephew.
So bright and early Sunday morning, I turned up at the Savannah, where, from the guard at the gate, everyone was kind and helpful, right through every stage of the exercise, which will hopefully lead to us resuming the simple things we took for granted not so long ago.
Like sitting in a bar sipping a few cold ones, or having a nice meal in a restaurant, going to cinema or the beach, playing sports and watching any kind of game live, or even thinking about having Carnival again.
After the various volunteers did their best to make you comfortable, from the first staging area to the last, Dr Charles introduced herself and I barely felt a thing. And after about 20 minutes in the observation area, where my old friend “Shilling” slapped me on the injection arm, I was down the stairs and back in my car, a little more than two hours after arriving, with my second shot scheduled for June 20.
It could have been quicker but some people coming after me went straight upstairs to the injection area after their information was checked downstairs, instead of going to another waiting area like the rest of us. But I’m not complaining, especially with all those patriots who gave up their Sunday, and other days before and after, to expedite this vaccination programme which will ultimately help everyone of us return to some form of normalcy.
I went to work after lunch, got home to watch the Oscars Sunday night and was back at Express House on Monday afternoon when editor-in-chief Omatie Lyder, who had got her vaccine at Couva on Saturday, asked me how I was feeling.
I said fine and she said she was a little sleepy and lethargic, and I nearly told her that’s how I feel every Monday at work.
I might have gone to take a leak more than usual Monday, but that could be because more than one person told me to drink a lot of liquids, and my arm was slightly sore, but that could be due to Shilling’s slap ten minutes after getting the shot.
I could also be dead in two years like a German expat on a WhatsApp chat said would befall everyone who gets vaccinated. But if I save any money in that time, I could visit my daughters or brother abroad without fearing a sneeze or cough from someone nearby, especially on a plane.
The anti-vaxxers are all over the place—on Monos, in Goodwood Park, Maraval, St Lucia—they’re everywhere, but most of us have had enough of Covid-19 and will take our chances with the jab.