Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

My vaccine experience taught me a few valuable lessons

Can we never stop putting ourselves first?

My sister and I got the vaccine three days ago; We were fortunate to get the vaccine on the first day that vaccination opened for the 18+ age group in our state. Our state government is providing the jab free.

Since my sister and I had to get the jab, we first went to her centre. We reached the gate, and the guard asked for the recipient’s name. He had a list, and only those people whose name was on the list were allowed inside the gate. The guard flipped the pages and said, “your sister’s name isn’t on the list.” I became jittery but requested him to give me the list so that I can check the list. He was more than happy to do this. I found my sister’s name after flipping a few pages and pointed him the name. He allowed my sister to enter the centre. She went into a room, and she came out in a minute. Although I could see she was holding a cotton patch on her arm, I asked did you get the jab? She was like, “Yeah, it was real quick.” I had been reading in the newspaper that people were waiting for hours before they got the jab although only those who had the appointment were getting the jab.

I was exhilarated because I thought I would not have to wait long for my jab. I drove to my centre and could see cars and bikes parked outside the centre. My exhilaration turned into anxiety because I realized this isn’t going to be quick. I walked into the centre and saw a long serpentine queue, the queue starting from the vaccination room and ending around a tree. The tree was a huge banyan tree. It provided shade to the people waiting for vaccination as if it was waiting for the pandemic to strike the world and people coming to this place for the vaccine to provide shade to the vaccine-seekers. I joined the queue at the end. Although not more than 30 people were in the queue, the queue was long because people had maintained a distance between one another. I was glad to see that.

The unsolicited advice

The vaccine room (where people were getting the vaccine) was part of a building that bordered a huge field. After a few minutes, the SDM [Sub-divisional Magistrate] of the district where the vaccination centre was located walked into the centre. I think that was a routine visit to check whether the vaccination was going smoothly. He had assistants with him. These assistants were SDM’s orderlies ensuring that the SDM doesn’t have any trouble while inspecting the vaccination centre. One of the assistants seeing the long queue, asked the people to submit their ID copies that they were carrying with them.

People who had booked the appointment had to carry a copy of the ID that they used while booking the appointment. The assistant numbered each ID copy matching the person’s position in the queue. So, the person who was at the head of the queue, their copy was numbered 1, the next person’s copy was numbered 2. He asked the people to sit on the benches in the building opposite the vaccine room. And he said, “he will call out the names according to the numbered ID copies.” The idea was good, but it went awry.

Chaos that followed the advice

People who came later and submitted their copies these copies were not numbered. The assistant calling out names, left the centre midway because he got a call from the office. Before leaving, he didn’t explain to anyone deputed at the centre about the ID numbering process. The person to whom he handed the ID’s never knew she had to call out names. People who walked into the centre later didn’t wait and got the jab by just submitting their ID copies to the person who was collecting the ID’s inside the vaccine room.

People sitting on the benches noticed that something was wrong and started gathering outside the vaccine room. Social distancing went for a toss. It became chaotic. Some people who were waiting outside the room were following the ID order, but new people slipped in the queue and got their jabs before the people who had submitted their ID copies earlier.

Photo by Veit Hammer on Unsplash

More chaos

In the middle of this, a girl around 20’s caused an uproar. She started whining that she was before the person who was getting the jab at that time, and it was unfair. The problem was that the later ID copies weren’t numbered. Although she had submitted her ID copy, it wasn’t numbered. No one could say what the order was. I mean, anyone could claim that they were before the person who is getting the jab. She held up the queue for 15 minutes. This was a new queue after people realized the previous ID numbering order had failed. I am sure if she hadn’t become whiny, she would have received the vaccine within 15 minutes. I think her behaviour was inappropriate. This wasn’t like waiting outside a restaurant where you have to wait for 20–30 minutes or more if you don’t get the table.

A little compassion for others will not cost much

It was a vaccination centre; These are challenging times for everyone. All people were there for the vaccine and not for a soiree. Since morning, the healthcare workers were there, vaccinating people, and they too wanted to get home quickly. It’s a stressful situation for the whole country-second wave is raging across the country. People are distressed, and the girl, by being naggy, I would say, was being inconsiderate about fellow citizens’ plight. One cannot be self-centred every time. These times demand a person to show companionship towards other citizens. It is not that if a person has got vaccinated, the virus cannot infect that person. As long as each one of us is not vaccinated, no one is safe. The virus may mutate, and the vaccine may prove to be ineffective against the mutant virus.

The Indian constitution states fraternity as one of the country’s core values, but do the citizens practise this value? It looks good on paper, but the reality is different. Most people are too busy putting their needs first rather than stepping back and thinking about people around them.

Everyone has a different experience although they may be doing the same thing that another person did

And I learnt another valuable lesson. I got exhilarated because I thought the vaccine process would go the same way-quick- like my sister’s, but it wasn’t quick. I had to wait for about 2 hours. What happens with one person -no matter how close that person is to you- doesn’t mean that it will happen with you. Sometimes you will have favourable circumstances; sometimes, the other person will have things going their way. You can’t assume what happens with one person will happen with you.

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SURYASH KUMAR

SURYASH KUMAR

I share my perspective through my writing to which you may disagree. You can contact me at coolsuryash@gmail.com