The longest jab

I left home at 10am on Saturday and drove 40 minutes to Sydney Olympic Park to get my first Pfizer vaccination. I joined the massive queue and … more than 24 hours later … I finally got the jab.

I was soooooooo dirty about my weekend being wasted – I wanted to doing an Indian war dance of frustration on Australia Avenue.

But I can’t blame NSW Health for incompetence, I can only blame myself.

The reason it took so long to get the jab was that when I got to the top of the queue at 11.20am on Saturday and scanned my code, I was informed by a nice lady in PPE that I was supposed to be there at 11am on July 4, not 11am on July 3.


I wanted to lash out, but there was no-one to blame but myself. I did a bit of half-hearted begging to be allowed to get the jab a day early, but I knew it wasn’t going to do any good. The computer said noooooo. Sydney Olympic Park Vaccination Centre was fully booked on July 3, as evidenced by the masses of people surrounding me. So I trudged back to the carpark and drove home.

Actually, I drove to DD’s house, as we were having lunch together. DD agreed I’d been a complete airhead. I’m blaming the menopause hormones. They take the bullet for everything these days.

As for what it’s like to go to the vaccination centre and actually get the jab, I have some thoughts …

I’m not entirely sure it’s the best idea, when people are reluctant to get vaccinated, to make them go somewhere that costs $6 an hour to park, but maybe that’s a bit tight of me.

I’m also not entirely sure it’s a great idea to get hundreds of people to crowd together in queues during a pandemic. I’m pretty sure pubs have been fined and shut down for doing so. There was no social distancing being enforced in the queue until I got to the entry tent. The bloke behind me on Saturday kept bumping into me, FFS, and it wasn’t some weird sexual thing because he was there with his girlfriend. THAT’S how close people were.

I was a bit naive about what getting an 11am appointment to have a vaccination meant. I hadn’t realised hundreds of other people would also have an 11am appointment.

And don’t just join the first queue you see – there are different lines for different time slots. Ask one of the PPE gang where you should go.

Anyways, I have no wisdom to share on what a better system would look like when you’re trying to inoculate millions of people.

So I made the 40-minute journey back over to Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday morning and parked in the highway robbery carpark and walked back to the corner of Australia Avenue and Figtree Street and stood in a not-quite-as-long queue again.

Fortunately my code worked this time. And I was sent to the under-60s room to have my Pfizer jab. We were arranged in socially distanced plastic chairs to wait for our number to be called. About 15 minutes later I was directed to desk 27.

A lovely nurse called Antonia asked me lots of questions, including whether I was anaphylactic to anything. I told her I was anaphylactic to penicillin. She wanted to know if I had an epi-pen for it. Er, no. They didn’t give people epi-pens for pencillin anaphylaxis when I was 4, or maybe it was 5, I can’t remember. About all I do remember is a doctor coming to my grandmother’s house late one night when giant hives appeared all over my body and inside my throat, threatening to close it over. I was rushed to hospital and I have vague memories of a hospital bed, extreme boredom while the doctors spent days trying to work out what was wrong with me, then jumping up from behind a chair to surprise my parents when they arrived to take me home.

Antonia suggested it might be time to talk to my GP about an anaphylaxis plan. If not an epi-pen, then perhaps some sort of bracelet in case of emergency. Fair point.

Then I had to spend 30 minutes in a special anaphylaxis chair in the recovery area, being observed to make sure I didn’t cark it from the jab.

Afterwards, I had to line up again at the help desk. It turns out the computer booking system isn’t very intuitive when it comes to second jabs and had scheduled mine too far in the future. I got stuck with a new, very inconvenient peak-hour slot, and drove 40 minutes home.

And that was the anticlimactic end to getting my first Pfizer jab. I didn’t feel it going in, my arm is a bit sore, but that’s about it so far, and I’m half vaccinated – go me!

Song of the day: The Fray “How to save a life”

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