Basil Helman writes:
In the distance the thinning mist revealed two figures in high-viz jackets stamping their feet with their hands glumly stuck under their armpits to gather warmth. Not a scene from some Cold War novel but Minehead Community Hospital on a cold January Sunday morning.
We slow the car “When is your appointment? ” we are asked.
“Park the car and wait until five minutes before your appointment then go to the main entrance ”
Outside the main entrance we are met by two staff, one of whom proffers sanitising fluid and a new mask. Wife, a tyke, protests the mask she is wearing is straight out of the packet and Yorkshire thrift precluded her from taking another. She was eventually persuaded. Self, a sophisticated west countryman grabs the freebie. The second member of staff points a gun like object at our foreheads, only to take the temperatures. We are allowed to enter.
Inside, identities are established and labels provided. We are led to adjacent seats, sit down only to be called seconds later. Taken along the corridor it’s established which room is free. Phoebe will administer the jab. I sit down and further identity checks proceed after which data is entered into the network system. Do I take blood thinners? Answer yes! The keyboard clicks away. Formalities concluded Phoebe reaches for a syringe and, after a slight prick, plunges the needle into the left deltoid muscle. Interestingly, I subsequently find that by moving to a very thin needle the NHS has been able to save up to 20% of the available vaccine.
Once respectably dressed I’m led by another staff member towards the recovery room. However, seeing my wife ahead I accelerate only to be restrained – the two meter rule. I point out it was a woman I casually slept with and then, rather surprisingly, was quickly released.
We sit for 15 minutes in the recovery room where the conversation provides growing praise for the experience we had all been through. Whilst sitting there a nurse entered with a pair of eyes that we recognised from our local practice. From her we learn that the objective was to inoculate one person per minute over an 11 hour session and that this was the second time that such a session had been held.
Our time up, we proceeded to the exit where we were signed out on the computer at the door emerging back into the car park twenty minutes after entry.
During a recent Zoom meeting I described our experience as ‘exemplary’ and on reflection I see no reason to qualify that judgement.I’m left awestruck with the genius of two Turkish immigrants working in a German laboratory who made the vaccine and this visit possible.