My vax day
I had my first dose of the anti-COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine four days ago. I did not transmogrify into a “teenage mutant ninja turtle” (to borrow a movie title) or develop traits of a chimpanzee. The AstraZeneca vaccine is classified as a viral vector vaccine, different from the ones that use mRNA technology. It “relies on a chimpanzee adenovirus to carry spike proteins from the coronavirus into your body to create an immune response.”
I had gone through the process of installing on my mobile phone a QCitizen app and, later, an eZConsult app for booking an online appointment. (Those who did not have these means were to go to their barangays.)
I was booked for April 10 and showed up, but I backed out when it was almost my turn. (But that is another story.) I again booked for a jab, this time at the Ateneo de Manila University, one of the new vax sites in Quezon City. I received confirmation via email: May 17, 9 a.m. I should be at the site at 8:45 a.m.
I went dressed in comfy clothes, with floppy hat, face mask, face shield and all. My cell phone with its QR code and confirmation was ready to be flashed. The guard at the gate did ask to see them. Parking was a breeze near the Grade School cafeteria where vaccination was going on. I took my place with the 9 a.m. group seated at the waiting shed. The 8 a.m. group was already inside.
I read Ocean Vuong’s bestselling “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” and marked a portion: “There is a story Lan would tell, of Lady Trieu, the mythical woman warrior who led an army of men and repelled the Chinese invasion of ancient Vietnam. I think of her, seeing you. How, as legend goes, armed with two swords, she’d fling her yard-long breasts over her shoulder and cut down the invaders by the dozens. How it was a woman who saved us.”
At 9 a.m., the guard announced that we were to enter. We were given a form to sign and with questions to answer. Strange, but almost all of the 15 questions were in the negative (e.g., Has no allergies to PEG or polysorbate? Not pregnant?) so one had to check the yes boxes to mean no. Survey experts must have reasons for using this method. Someone checking on our forms reminded us that we were getting AstraZeneca. Next stop was at a booth where someone looked at my medical history, IDs. etc. With my temperature (36.5°C), BP (125/80), and pulse rate (98) all okay, I proceeded to vaccination. The nurse in the booth saw me fumbling with my phone for a selfie, so she asked a staff to do it while she worked on my right arm. The jab was quick and painless. Alas, no fancy Band-Aids like those in other cities, something for a scrapbook perhaps. And no, I could not take home an empty vial as a souvenir.
Thank you, Lord, I muttered. As I thanked my vacunador, my voice cracked and I got misty-eyed. On my mind were the heroic health care frontliners, the suffering, dying, and dead.
We stayed some minutes at the post-vax area for monitoring. A megaphone lady gave reminders such as: Do not massage the injection spot, “puede maligo,” etc. It was time to go. I received my free water and cupcake.
I dropped by the cubicle with folding beds and oxygen tanks ready for those who might fall ill. A doctor was on standby. I took photos of the people, activities, and signs, and the men covered from head to foot in purple PPE and holding bright orange sprayers. They were collectors of vaccine waste, they said, that were for incineration. I could not bypass the statue of Jesuit founder St. Ignatius of Loyola. I was on my way home at 10:15 a.m.
In all, the process was very orderly and the personnel so attentive and efficient. Salamat! The site was airy, spacious, and clean. Thank you, Ateneo, alma mater dear, for sharing space for the multitude. Thank you, Kyusi.
Oh, at the end of the day I developed a slight fever (37.7°C). It was gone the morning after. My second jab is on Aug. 9, 84 days after my first vax day.
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