Good jab!

I’m so happy to see how efficiently Antipolo City is rolling out the vaccinations!

I got my second dose today. My first dose was administered in a small hospital near our village, but today I went to SM Masinag for my jab. In recent weeks, Ayala Malls and SM Malls set up vaccinations in otherwise empty malls. I suppose the city government consolidated appointments from smaller vaccination sites into this one mall, as there were far more people here, compared to four weeks ago in the hospital.

I got the SMS notification on Thursday. I was originally given a schedule of Friday, May 21, which was weird, because it was one day short of the four weeks necessary between jabs. A few hours after that first text, I got another message saying they had made a mistake, and my schedule was really for May 22, which was what I expected. My appointment was for 10:00 AM.

Vax Day

I arrived shortly before 10:00 AM. There were a lot more people today than four weeks ago, but everything moved so quickly and smoothly. I went to the top floor.

The top floor once housed the food court; right now it’s also home to the cinemas, computer and mobile phone shops, some clinics and telco business centers. While the telcos and the tech shops still see brisk business, and the clinics are still in operation, the food court was often empty, and the cinemas couldn’t really operate. I think they tried to open a few months ago, but I guess that didn’t really work out.

Then a month or so ago, when I went to The Medical City for a checkup, I saw that the food court was closed, and a new one was under construction on the second floor. It was the vaccination site that they were setting up in place of the food court.

Step 1: Registration

I went to the table, which was manned by one staff member. I showed him the SMS notice that I received. He gave me some forms to fill up and a number–92. He told me to find a seat and fill up my forms, and then my number would be called.

There was no line. There were no crowds. It was quiet. People who were waiting were sitting quietly in seats that had been arranged neatly in rows, distanced maybe five feet apart. Most of the plastic chairs had tables attached, like the ones you find in school, so you could fill up your forms. Another staff member, whose shirt indicated he was from the OPSS (Office of Public Safety and Security) moved around the chairs periodically, asking people to move if there was space.

OPSS is an office of Marikina City, so I can only guess that the vaccination site in SM Masinag is a joint operation of Antipolo City and Marikina City.

There was a barrier between Step 1 and the line of chairs for people waiting for Step 2. Every time a chair or two was vacated in the line for Step 2, the OPSS guy called the next few numbers. For the people waiting for Step 2, there was a TV playing videos from Department of Health, with Dr. Beverly Ho of the Health Promotion and Communication Service talking about the vaccine and the vaccination process.

Though my number was 92, and they were at around 60 when I arrived, I didn’t wait for very long. I was comfortable, and everything was so orderly.

Step 2: Counselling

I waited only 20 minutes between Step 1 and Step 2. When it was my turn, I just wrote my name and contact number in a ledger, and the clerk on duty entered my details on his workstation. Then he waved me over to the next step!

Step 3: Screening

Everything seemed to be moving so much more quickly than the last time. There were a lot more staff here than in the hospital where I got my first shot, and there was very little waiting time between steps. Barely a minute after I sat down, the guy ahead of me was called for his screening, and then it was my turn.

There seemed to be at least two stations for every step moving forward. When I was called, the nurses took my blood pressure and checked my pulse and oxygen levels. My blood pressure was 110/70, and my heart rate was 79–both higher than my normal. I suppose I was feeling anxious.

Should my anxiety be any surprise? Dealing with any government office or process is incredibly stressful. A process that was flowing so smoothly, and one that meant life or death for so many–I think my subconscious was waiting, fearing, that at any moment something might go wrong.

I tried to take deep breaths, and I was quickly waved to an empty table, where I waited for the doctor. She arrived shortly, and she asked some quick but thorough questions:

  • if I was taking any maintenance medicine
  • if I had any allergies, and what triggered them
  • if I was pregnant
  • the date of my last menstrual period
  • my job

After that, she dispatched me to the next step: vaccination!

Selfie. No giggling.

Step 4: Vaccination

By 10:32 AM, about 40 minutes after I arrived at the vaccination site, I was in line for vaccination! I was so happily surprised at how efficiently all the staff worked and processed all the people.

It was so cute to see almost every single person ahead of me in the vaccination line, taking a selfie, taking a video, asking their companion or the OPSS staff present to take their picture.

Photo by OPSS guy. In case you can’t tell, I’m giggling. It’s hard to giggle while trying not to move the rest of your body. I suppose the needle helps with that!

Just as the nurses were preparing the injection, they checked my paperwork. One of them asked what my classification was, and I think the confusion arose because the doctor had written down, “NGO worker.” I quickly told them my classification was A3.

“Hindi po ako frontliner! Comms po. Taga-kwento po. Hindi po ako A1!” (Oh, I’m not a frontliner! I’m in comms, I just tell stories. I don’t belong in A1!”) They laughed.

They asked if I got my first dose on my left or right arm, and I couldn’t remember! They said it didn’t really matter, and later on I saw that they had written an L on my vaccination card, next to the date of my second dose.

I also mentioned, before they could ask, that the tattoo on my arm was nearly ten years old, so it shouldn’t be a problem. “Turukan natin itong araw,” the nurse laughed. (Let’s jab the sun.)

I took a selfie, and then the OPSS guy quickly offered to take my picture, as he had with everyone who had gone before me. I laughed. “Sanay na sanay si kuya!” (Kuya is so used to this already!)

“Tapos na po!” the nurse said gaily. (It’s done!) And I went on to the next step.

Step 5: Observation

There was another clerk, checking our forms and our cards and our information. There were more OPSS guys assisting with the flow of human traffic. Immediately after vaccination, the staff at one health station took my vitals: blood pressure, oxygen, pulse. My blood pressure was 120/80, higher than before the vaccination, but perhaps that was due to the banter and laughter with the staff. My pulse was 70, much lower than previously, and much closer to my normal.

Happily, I did not experience any difficulty breathing or any tightness in my chest this time. Maybe it’s because the venue was indoors, and while it wasn’t cold, it was definitely comfortable.

I didn’t notice how long I was sitting there. I was too busy observing the people around me. There were entire families getting vaccinated together. Middle-aged parents and their adult son. A family with a frail little lady in a wheelchair, her colorfully dressed companion, a young girl, a young man and a middle-aged man. Husband and wife.

I was so happy they had gotten scheduled together. I was so glad to see their enthusiasm and cheer. I was overjoyed by their cheerful posing in front of the photo wall, their jokes with the OPSS guy taking their picture, their confusion over who should stand where and which sign to hold up.

It was adorable, and it brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure they too, like all of us, eagerly awaited the day their entire clans, their neighbors and their friends were all fully vaccinated, and they could gather again, kiss and embrace each other, and full the sun and the wind on their faces. I’m sure they too longed for the day when they didn’t need to be afraid that a gathering could mean death for one or more. I’m sure they, like so many, were only too eager for this accursed pandemic to end.

In the meantime, we mask, we distance, and we get vaccinated.

As with my first dose, a separate team of health workers took vital signs after the observation period. Blood pressure, oxygen, pulse. “OK na po,” the nurse said after she noted my vitals. And then I was done! It was only 11:04 AM, so everything–from arrival to the completion of the observation period–took only an hour.

Post-vaccination

Photo grabbed from the Internet

As more people get fully vaccinated, it’s funny to see establishments trying to capitalize, celebrate, make a profit. SM Malls offered free turon (banana in egg wrapper, fried, sometimes sprinkled with sugar) when you show your vaccine, but the wording was, er, not very well-thought out, and netizens were quite confused!

National Bookstore offered a free case for the vaccination card, no purchase required! So I went to National Bookstore, one floor down from the vaccination site, and I got a free plastic case! Apparently, in other branches, it was a free ballpen, or free lamination service.

I haven’t seen any other promos for those who are fully vaccinated, but do share if you find any!

Promos aside, I felt fine after my vaccination. My arm felt heavy, but I didn’t feel tired. I met up with Oneal and we ran a few errands in SM, before walking to Decathlon for a quick purchase. We walked back to SM, hopped in the car, and went home.

As the day wore on, I felt sleepy, but I didn’t feel fatigue or overwhelming lethargy. I did some chores around the house, and I felt fine.

Time will tell if any other side effects pop up.

Have you gotten vaccinated? Have you gotten your second dose? How’s it going in your area?

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