FIle photo: Healthcare workers getting vaccine at Gatesville Melomed vaccination centre in Athlone. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane AFrican News Agency (ANA)
FIle photo: Healthcare workers getting vaccine at Gatesville Melomed vaccination centre in Athlone. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane AFrican News Agency (ANA)

I took my mother for her Covid-19 vaccination and this is what the experience was like

By Liam Karabo Joyce Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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South Africa is in the beginning stages of its mass Covid-19 roll-out programme. The 60 year olds and above are eligible including healthcare workers who were not vaccinated during the Sisonke Trial.

Getting a Covid-19 vaccine is almost like applying for a new passport, smart ID or renewing your licence. An entire day of waiting in queues is needed before you get close enough to be seen.

Well, that is what I thought, and I am sure you don’t blame me. We all have our horror stories about service delivery at government service providers.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the efficient service provided by healthcare workers on the day I took my mother for her jab.

Now 65 years old, I had been waiting for the day when she could finally get vaccinated. While I did my own research on the different vaccines available, so did my mother. Once it was announced that citizens could register to be vaccinated, my mother did exactly that.

The week in which the roll-out started, my mother was given a date and time but missed it because she viewed her text messages too late.

Once it was announced that the government will be allowing walk-ins for those who have registered, we decided waiting to be rescheduled was risky.

Given the scepticism by many about the safety of vaccines, my mother was a bit nervous. I did my best to assure her that she would be fine and sent her every story I could find online about people her age getting vaccinated.

Based on what we had heard from friends, we decided that the best vaccination site in Durban to go to was the Moses Mabhida Stadium. At 7am on Thursday morning last week, we jumped into the car and drove down to Durban Central.

As expected, there was already a queue of golden oldies sitting down in a demarcated area. There could have been at least 100 people in front of my mother. After ensuring she joined the correct queue, I then parked the car and joined her. By 7.45am the queue had got longer and staff at the site provided more chairs.

At about 8am the site manager addressed those waiting to be vaccinated and explained the process in detail. He opened the floor up to questions and added a few jokes to lighten the mood.

Given that the vaccination site is in a stadium, the vaccines need to be delivered as there is no on-site storage. That delivery is made by the Durban metro police and the SADF. This was the only delay.

While I headed back to the car to get some work done, my mother was screened by staff, her online registration was verified and before I knew it, she had messaged me saying: “I am going next”. Before I could even respond, she sent me a picture of herself getting her first Pfizer jab.

An emotional moment for me considering the sacrifices made over the past year. I headed back to her whereby at this point, she had made a friend.

Once you receive your vaccination you are monitored for 15 minutes and then “discharged” on the electronic system and given a date for your second jab.

While many have experienced some side effects like pain in the area they received the injection and a slight cold the next day, my mother experienced no side effects and was tending her garden once she got home.

Throughout the process, social distancing was implemented, staff are friendly and helpful, even to people like me who were not getting vaccinated. Nurses answered all and any questions related to the vaccine and there are doctors on site.

Depending on the time of day you go, you could be finished within an hour.

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