An injection of hope

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Inside the Etchingham vaccination centre

Last week I got the call from Ferry Road surgery inviting me to have the Covid vaccination at Etchingham, I confirmed I was fortunate enough to have my own transport, an appointment for 2:05 pm was agreed for last Friday (February 19) and I was asked a few simple health related questions.

And for those who haven’t had “the jab” yet I thought it would be helpful to detail my experience and to reassure anyone that the whole process is extremely efficient and nothing to be concerned about. My wife drove us and we allowed 45 minutes for the journey arriving at the vaccination centre at 2pm. It’s easy to find, there’s ample free parking and plenty of Hi-Viz clad volunteers to help you along the way.

I joined the queue outside on socially distanced 2 metre markers and at the main reception desk a very enthusiastic and reassuring lady checked us off on her list, we were then given an appointment card and joined another queue inside, similar to the queuing system at most airports. I met a couple of local Ryers whilst waiting, a chance to have a masked conversation, at a distance.

We didn’t have to stand for long before being ushered towards one of four ladies with laptops who explained the process, asked a few medical related questions and logged us onto the system. I was given an explanatory double sided leaflet about how the Oxford AstraZeneca drug would be administered and what possible side effects to expect. The choice of drugs available depends on what has been delivered to the centre, but we were all very grateful to receive whatever was on offer.

After this process we were led into a corridor, appointment card at the ready and in the area we had just left, where we had been interviewed a volunteer sanitised all the areas we may have touched – after every visitor.

The queue continued to move quickly, socially distanced at all times and with a smiling, reassuring face at every juncture, and then we entered the main hall. The vaccinators were behind screens, you had the choice of being jabbed in the left or right arm and before you knew it the job had been done, painless and quick. Sleeves rolled back down, I was shown to the rest area where you had the opportunity to wait in case of any adverse side effects, then out into the fresh air and back to the car.

Vaccination notes given out with the AstraZeneca jab.

The whole process was run like a military operation, the volunteers couldn’t have done more to make the experience any better, the building was light, well ventilated and warm inside, but we were lucky – the weather was on our side. Had it been raining it might have been a different story. This being said, this was my second visit to the centre, we went there during the snow, with another close family member for a vaccination, and the process was just as efficient, despite the extra challenges.

I ended my visit on Friday with another appointment card to keep which will be updated after the second, follow-up, vaccination.

I likened my experience to going to the supermarket, signs everywhere telling us what to do and where to go, very tight protective measures in place and, instead of going away clutching a handful of free vouchers to save me money on my next shop, I like – millions of others – was lucky enough to be given a free vaccination which could possibly save my life, or someone else’s.

Thank you to everyone involved in this seamless process, we are indebted to you.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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