by Colin Campbell
IT was vaccine day for me yesterday – not the Big One, V Day – but the flu vaccine, which is obviously a particularly important armful to get this winter.
With regard to the vaccine which will largely free of us of cursed coronavirus fears, I’ve been surprised by the contrast between my anticipation of it and the reaction of some other people. I can’t wait to start planning for the future and to escape from the fog of uncertainty, confusion and dreariness of the past nine months. Being in level 7 – February or March hopefully? They can stick a needle in my arm and if permissible I’ll pour a very large celebratory drink, or several down my throat on that fine day.
Some other folk in our older age group I’ve spoken to seem fairly indifferent towards the prospect and haven’t even bothered checking what level they’re in. For many of us the virus scourge has been a prolonged period of frustration, boredom and sometimes near despair. And that’s while we’ve avoided catching the damn thing.
Others, in different circumstances, have adapted better and not had their lives and lifestyles disrupted to the same degree, hence the fact that they are not exactly gagging to get that precious needle, though they’ll no doubt be quite glad to be punctured when their time comes around. In terms of mood and morale, the coronavirus has affected some people very differently from the way it has others. Those less eager to get vaccinated are no doubt the lucky ones.
Yesterday was the first time I’d had the flu jab, having failed to respond to NHS invitations in previous years. But this time negligence is no longer a credible option.
I’m not at all a fan of needles, and I didn’t know quite what to expect at the Riverside Medical Practice. Probably a short wait, a sit down with a nurse or doctor, maybe a few words of conversation, sleeve rolled up, the injection while I looked away, and then an unhurried departure.
But of course things are very different this year and the pre-planned flu vaccine clinic at Riverside yesterday raised medical efficiency to a level which struck me as impressive bordering on extraordinary.
I glanced at the time on my bike odometer before heading for the front door and I looked at it again after returning after vaccination through a rear door and found I had been away less than five minutes. Job done. If the NHS has sometimes been accused of dragging its heels they were operating at a full-on sprint yesterday.
The procedure: go to the door at the allotted time, be asked a couple of questions about any adverse symptoms, and have an instant temperature check with a device pointed at your forehead; enter the building where a member of staff is waiting with hand gell, and then be directed on the route to follow; be told which room to go – all the doors were open amid the rapid turnover activity; an identity check, jacket off, sleeve rolled up, a faint prick in the upper arm and that’s it, you are vaccinated. All done standing up. And then I exited through the one-way system into the chilly car park I had left less than five minutes earlier.
Riverside and other medical practices in Inverness have large numbers of people to cope with during vaccine clinic hours and have to operate with maximum speed and efficiency. My surgery at least is rising very impressively to the challenge.
I report on this experience because it made such a favourable, uplifting impression. It was a booster in troubled times. Before very long supplies of the coronavirus vaccine should start arriving at Riverside Medical Practice and elsewhere. They face a major task with the numbers of people involved, but there has to be every confidence that they’ll be fully prepared for it and able to cope.
I now look forward to going through the same experience hopefully in two or three months time, exiting through that rear door and heading again for the bike shed, before bursting into song.