My 4-hour vaccine ordeal, punctuated by delays, frayed tempers, lunch break
Emboldened by the 'smooth experience' posts by many on Twitter, I too decided to take the plunge and get a COVID jab. But, my experience was nothing less than a nightmare. Living with three recovered COVID patients -- my father-in-law, husband and brother-in-law -- it was important for me to get vaccinated. My mother-in-law had already got her vaccine in earlier phases.
Since May 1, when booking opened for the 18-44 age group, I was trying to book a slot and finally on May 4 midnight, we got lucky. My brother-in-law was able to book one for me. It was scheduled for 11am-1pm. 'Perfect', I thought as I could come back on time and login for my office work.
But that was not to be. I reached the vaccination centre, a government school in Sector 21, Rohini, at around 12 noon. There was a huge rush of cars outside the centre. When I finally reached the gate, a volunteer informed us that we will have to wait as people in the 9am-11am slot were still inside.
I had come mentally prepared to wait for an hour or so but after one hour still no progress. Tempers started flaring as mercury rose. Stepping out of houses is anyway a risk in this pandemic era and then standing in a queue with hardly any social distancing just adds to it. After 10-15 minutes of argument, the volunteer informed us that the centre did not have a vaccine for the morning batch. It arrived late and hence the delay.
People outside the centre were losing patience. There were heated arguments after every 10-15 minutes. A few officers from inside the centre came to pacify everyone.
Around 2pm, we were finally allowed to enter and as soon as that happened everyone forgot that we were living in the pandemic era. Social distancing was forgotten, all that mattered was to somehow get the vaccine.
Finally! was the word on my mind when I entered the school. I thought I would be free in half an hour but I was wrong, yet again.
The staff then decided to take a lunch break. Again, the optimist me though, "they are overwhelmed, they need their breaks too... half an hour maybe, 40 minutes max". But the lunch break stretched to more than an hour. The staff finally returned. Meanwhile, many started losing patience. A man, who had a pregnant wife at home and was wary of staying out for so long and that too in a crowd, pleaded with officials again and again to be given the jab so that he could leave. But no one paid attention to him.
Finally around 3pm, they started the vaccination process for our batch. At around 3.35pm, I finally got my first jab. Then, as required, I sat in the observation room for 30 minutes, wondering about the ordeal I would have to face for the second jab.