It’s a freezing cold January morning, thick fog, a demolition site next door but me and my Dad are on a mission. Newton Heath Health Centre here we come! It’s Covid vaccination time and nothing’s going to stop us.Truth be told, we were a wee bit anxious. It’s not his usual surgery so the building is unfamiliar. The road to it was blocked off but we faithfully followed the diversion signs and arrived with 5 minutes spare. Perfect!
Cheerful yellow vested volunteers looked after us from the moment we arrived, guiding us to a parking space close by and showing us where to go. Once inside our hands were sanitised and we took a place on a marker.
From there, it was a bit like being on a conveyor belt; moving smoothly from one area to the next. A recess marked for social distancing, a waiting room with seats set apart and a row of masked faces behind computers; safe and separated, checking details, signing you in.
All doors are open for a free flow of air and fewer ‘touch points’. It’s bustling but calm, everyone getting on with what they had to do.
Short wait, then a trip down the corridor into a treatment room.
Coat off and one arm stretched out. The nurse was lovely.
“Is that it?” Dad asked. “That was quick.”
The sticker with the time on wouldn’t stick to his jumper so I stuck it on the back of my hand instead. It wasn’t necessary, just a precaution; someone was carefully monitoring when it was time for each patient to leave. 15 minutes passed quickly; it would have been quiet if not for Dad. He was chuckling.
“What’s tickled you?” Don’t know why I was whispering.
“I had a shave this morning, specially. Could have a beard behind this mask and no-one would know.”
We thanked everyone we spoke to; the nurse, the guides, the clerks and the volunteers in the car park. We’d have thanked the window cleaner if he’d been there. Then back home, to get warm again.
Found out later that my neighbours, an old friend of my Dad’s and Dena, local Pride of Britain Award winner no less, had all received their vaccine at the same centre on the same day. They all felt the same, it couldn’t have gone better.
Dad’s 90. He’s lucky to be amongst the first to receive the vaccine and he’ll be followed by millions of other people, all around the world.
Given the choice he’d have wanted me to have it first. But I’ll bide my time, do my best to stay safe and wait for the call.
It’s tiny thing; a little vial of liquid and a needle so fine you can’t feel it, yet it can save your life.
I rang Dad the next morning to check he was ok. “How are you feeling?”
“Just fine.” Then he added. “No, I’m better than fine. I’ve watched on and felt helpless all year. Now I feel I’ve done my bit.”