Participating in history
By Nhi ‘Jenny’ Vo, Production Assistant
Usually, there is a gap between registration and booking. However, being the impatient person I always have been, I phoned 1-833-838-2323 to book my shot right away.
I finally got my first shot! Of course, I’m talking about my vaccine dose, not my indefinite attempts with a three-pointer. Since I’m probably one of the first non-essential workers in my age range to receive the vaccine, I thought it would be cool to explain how it went down.
The reason why I was prioritized is that I am considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). People on the CEV list face more risk with COVID and are the strongest drivers of hospitalization and mortality risk. If you are on the list, your doctor will send you an invitation letter saying that you can book your vaccine appointment right now. As soon as I received my letter, I registered for the vaccine. Usually, there is a gap between registration and booking. However, being the impatient person I always have been, I phoned 1-833-838-2323 to book my shot right away.
At first, the operator signed me up for a clinic with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Even though I confirmed several times that I’m not over 40 years old, she did not change the appointment. Unsatisfied with my booking, I called the line again, and another operator carefully booked me in another clinic and ensured that they don’t have the AstraZeneca vaccine in stock there. A few hours later, I got a text saying that this clinic is exclusively dedicated to First Nations people, so my booking got cancelled for the second time. Even though I was as upset as Gordon Ramsay seeing some raw scallops, I tried again. Third time was the charm: I got my proper booking at the South Surrey Immunization Clinic.
Now here came a new problem. The closest bus is a 20-minute walk away from the clinic. Luckily, my uncle offered me a ride. I got to the clinic 15 minutes before my appointment time, as advised. The clinic is actually inside a recreation centre with the size of four small basketball courts. In the first room, they got me to sign a screening form stating my consent and allergies, then I lined up for check-in. It was more crowded than the famous Chung Chun Rice Hot Dog! There were around 50 people in that room before me, staff included. The staff only asked for my care card, so I didn’t need to show my QR code or booking reference. I waited for around 20 minutes here before moving into the second room.
Before entering, they handed me more documents about the vaccine and aftercare instructions. There were nine immunization stations with seven seats lined up for each station. In addition, there were some beds for people who can’t get vaccinated while sitting. They let me in when one of the 63 seats was empty (yes, I did my math homework). Each station had one nurse and one clerk. The duo would go along the station with their rolling storage cart from the beginning to the end of the station line. I waited for another 20 minutes before they got to me. They wanted to confirm that I was over 18 (my Asian genes look younger behind the mask) so that I could have my Moderna vaccine, saying that this vaccine cannot be used for a minor. Here was when they checked my care card, screening form, and invitation letter. The nurse was distracting me with a few questions while she injected the vaccine—it took two seconds. They put an “immunized” sticker on me and gave me a card with the information of my first shot. I had to stay at the clinic for another 15 minutes in case of any severe allergic reaction. Being a mature adult, as usual, I used the free time to observe my surroundings.
There were different types of people getting vaccinated that day. Some were police officers in their uniforms, some were from the “hot spot” communities, some were accompanied by a friend or family member for support, others brought their giant Canada Goose jackets in the 20-degrees-Celcius weather. The funniest thing that happened in the room was a guy asking if he could get a drink after being immunized. “Yes, of course. Go celebrate!” said his nurse. Despite our different backgrounds and circumstances, we were all happy that we were taking the first step towards a normal life.
I got out of the clinic that day feeling hopeful even though my vaccinated spot was sore and swelling. It was so painful I couldn’t lift my arm above my shoulders. These mild reactions went away on their own as expected. After two days, I felt good as new and started playing basketball again. I’m grateful to be vaccinated early, and I can’t wait until we achieve herd immunity. I’ve missed too many birthday parties and pizza nights with my buddies. Fingers crossed that everybody will follow the restrictions and not eff things up—so that we can all be together soon.
My vaccination happened a few weeks ago, and now all age ranges are eligible to book their vaccine appointments, so, book your vaccine today!