Time was, the only vaccination one thought about was that of one’s dog.
How times have changed.
There’s been lots of hullaballoo in recent months in MB’s home country about the slow roll-out of vaccination. It’s proceeding at a snails pace. Meanwhile, over here in Qatar, where MB’s influence holds sway (ya right!), Qataris have rolled up their sleeves (or their dish-dashes!), put their shoulders to the wheel, and just cracked on with it.
In late February, the gigantic Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) was opened to the public as a free, walk-in/no-appointment-necessary vaccination centre. That was in addition to the many medical clinics in every locality where where all residents are registered and where each is entitled to take his or her vaccine shots.
In tandem, as an additional effort related to the necessary second shot, and to try to avoid over-crowding at the various centres, the government opened a drive-through centre where one drove through any of the 15 to 20 gates, lowered your car window, raised your shirt sleeve, took the shot and drove off – to the nearest 5-Star resort for a short staycation, or whatever. About 2 weeks back, the Ministry of Public Health confirmed that it was ok to roll up to the drive-in in a taxi! #ugottaloveQatar
And so, on 01 March 2021 (16 days before St Patrick’s Day – just to give St P a mention!) MB arrived at the multi-storey car park which adjoins the QNCC. There is an approx 3 minute walk to the entrance. As MB walked, he witnessed the Serengitti-like scene of hundreds on Indian or Nepali construction workers (mostly) running past MB to get a good position in the queue. Friend of MB made the immortal comment – “This scene is a Pharma Industry dream – human beings running, not walking, desperate to take the medicine”.
In any event, on arrival at the entrance queue, MB was informed by security that he, being over the age of 50, was entitled to jump the queue and proceed immediately into the vaccine administration area. MB is not sure how Security, or anyone else, could deduced that he was/is over 50, same not being evident from his youthful and slim fit physique. But MB digresses…….
MB duly waved goodbye to the herd of queueing wilderbeasts, and along with a few others of his age category, advanced inside. Within 10 minutes, MB’s blood pressure was taken (it was low), heart beat recorded (like a lion), and the 1st shot of Pfeizer Bio-N-Tech entered the shoulder muscle of MB.
Step 1 complete.
Moving along some 3 weeks, to yesterday 25 March (8 days after St Patrick’s Day!) MB returned to the QNCC, having received an SMS on his phone some 10 days earlier advising him of his appointed time, being 1.00 to 2.00pm.
MB breezed up to the vaccine desks, greeting all with his usual Irish charm and pazzaz. On hearing one of them singing a Hindi song, MB engaged his two vaccine-administration-expert Indian male nurses about the merits and strengths of the Bollywood Movie Industry. He even asked if the singer might be some relation of Shilpa Shetty, her husband perhaps, to loud guffaws from said Indians. ‘Leave them smiling’, is after all, the modus operandi of MB! MB then advanced to the cafe where a medium Americano coffee (hot milk/no sugar) and a Snickers Bar (from the fridge) was heartily consumed, in mini celebration of MB’s vaccination conclusion and conquest.
Step 2 complete.
MB had heard of many cases of a negative reaction to the second shot, from work colleagues. One such victim had recommended to MB that very morning that MB should take a Panadol table before going to the clinic and taking them for 3 days thereafter, 3 days being the negative impact period, seemingly. In the end, MB decided to rely on his athletic physique and the ever-preseent hovering presence and benevolence of St Patrick, took zero medicine, and even went out for an evening run only a few hours after receiving his shot. And as its now almost 24 hours later as MB composes the lofty prose, followers will be aware that MB has survived to tell the tale.
The only symptom MB is feeling, just for the benefit of followers who might be a little aprehensive as they face their own show-time, is a slightly painful shoulder where the injection was received. He felt the exact same pain after the first shot, like somebody punched his shoulder and gave him a dead arm. The pain abated after day-1, and then disappeared after day-2.
MB can say that he is no great fan of chemical medicines, whether vaccine or other. But when one is an expat far from home, the desire to travel home to visit family and friends is ever present, particularly in these times of restriction. In the coming days, MB will receive an email from the Ministry of Public Health which will have his Covid Vaccination Passport attached. This will allow MB to travel outside Qatar and not have to do any hotel quarantine upon his return. Presently the quarantine period is 7 days. Previously it was 14.
So, roll on a trip to Ireland in the next month or two. It’s been far too long.
MB can’t wait!