diamond geezer

 Saturday, March 13, 2021

I am now a jabbee.
I went to ExCeL yesterday and received my first vaccine dose.
So that's excellent.

Like many people I'd been waiting for an invite, assuming that someone would eventually get in touch and offer one, either by text or email or maybe via letter. Have faith, I thought, it will come. And eventually it did... but we'll get to that.

In the end I didn't wait for an invite, I logged onto the NHS Book a vaccination website as soon as the eligibility criteria reached my age group. I was impressed by the range of locations offered. Perhaps I got lucky because I'd logged on just after midnight, but the site offered me 30 different vaccination centres within 10 miles of home.

I could have gone to the Science Museum, the Francis Crick Institute or Battersea Arts Centre. I could have gone to hospitals in Greenwich or Westminster. I could have gone to a community centre in Loughton in Essex. I could have gone to high street pharmacies in Clapton, Woolwich, Tottenham, Eltham, Norwood, Palmers Green, Dagenham, Winchmore Hill or Streatham. Nowhere in Tower Hamlets was offered - my closest option was Westfield in Stratford. But I decided to pick ExCeL instead because I've been going on about it a lot, and because the interior's enormous.

I walked there. I even followed the designated walking route from Canning Town, if only to confirm that most of the signage is still incorrect or missing. Even the very first arrow opposite the bus station had peeled off and blown away. It was the first time I'd seen people walking in the opposite direction with stickers and post-vaccine documentation, but still not many people, indeed the queue outside ExCeL remained non-existent.

Just as I was walking up the steps towards the entrance a text message arrived. It was from my GP practice, inviting me to book my Covid-19 vaccination! My appointment is literally in two minutes time, I thought, I do not need this now, but thanks for eventually remembering. The invite system clearly works but one half doesn't know what the other half is doing, hence my GP practice had absolutely no idea what my NHS booking status was.

My confirmation email had told me to bring my booking reference numbers and a face covering, so I had. I'd written my eight-digit booking reference on a post-it so was feeling fairly confident when I presented it to the first smiley volunteer inside the main entrance. Thanks, he said, and do you have your NHS number too? I didn't because it wasn't in the instructions, neither had the number been included in my confirmation email even though it was part of the registration process.

You'll need your NHS number, he said, otherwise anyone could walk in off the streets with just a booking reference. I confess I did whinge at this point, politely, wondering why the onboarding process had been inadequately described. You can always use your phone to find your NHS number, he said, everybody has a phone. I had a comeback for this too, but was promptly invited to cheer up because this was a happy occasion and please carry on down the hall to gate N.



It felt strange to be back inside a building again, one that wasn't either home or a supermarket. And a massive building too, as I was reminded when I entered the main hall and saw the enormous queueing slalom stretched out ahead. It was fine, only twelve people were waiting in it and everyone had plenty of space... which was just as well when the person behind me turned out to have a cough. This was the queue for being checked in, and didn't look like a trivial process so it was going to be a ten minute wait.

I used the time to reply to the text message from my GP. They were offering me a choice of five locations, all in Tower Hamlets, including two in E3 within very easy walking distance of home. None had appeared on my original list, suggesting that GP consortia and the wider NHS are operating in two non-overlapping silos. I clicked the option for "I don't want to book right now" and when prompted to explain noted that I was currently standing in a queue to get my jab elsewhere so didn't need their kind offer thankyou.

Eventually the charming volunteer at the head of the queue directed over to table number 3. My booking reference was checked and I was asked to confirm my name and date of birth. I braced myself for NHS number hassle but no problem, the lady simply held up the screen on her tablet for me to photograph so I'd have the number to hand in the next room. Ten years ago she'd have had to scribble it on a bit of paper, but the advance of personal technology permitted a 100% hygienic solution. I think I got through the check-in process quicker than most.

Next I was off to my vaccination pod in the adjacent part of the hall. It felt like walking into a very small exhibition with no branding, a minor maze of white display stands. A smiling St John Ambulance volunteer welcomed me into my pod, or at least I assumed he was smiling because I couldn't see his lips move. I got to sit in the comfy chair and he checked various details including my NHS number. He also told me which version of the vaccine I'd be receiving, but I already knew it was AstraZeneca because I'd taken a photo of my personal details earlier.

We were then joined by a medical professional with the task of checking I knew what I was in for. She asked about medication and any current symptoms and even asked if I was pregnant because you cannot be too careful. I also got the lowdown on possible side effects and how best to counteract them (paracetamol, not ibuprofen), although I'm pleased to say I haven't had to act on her advice since. It was a longer preamble than I'd been expecting, which helps explain why ExCeL isn't a packed-out vaccine conveyor belt.

Finally it was time to roll up my sleeve for the jab. A syringe was unwrapped and I was given the usual warning that I might feel a sharp stab, but I didn't. The crucial few seconds passed without any discomfort and that was it, I was done. I received a couple of information leaflets and a card confirming which batch of vaccine I'd received, plus the legendary sticker it appears not everyone gets. And that was me all sorted, 25 minutes after walking in.

On the way out I passed waiting areas where anyone driving home was being asked to wait for 15 minutes, whereas as a pedestrian I was allowed to leave straight away. I also walked past several long aisles of empty space which, had things gone differently, might have been filled with patients on respirators or even used as a mass morgue. Instead I now had the vaccine inside me, the one I've been reading about since it was merely a pipedream and which might help get us out of this godawful situation.

I was particularly struck by how many people it had taken to direct me through the system, and also how cheery and helpful they'd been. I'm looking forward to meeting them again, or a different group of cheery helpful people, when I come back for my second dose at the end of May. The only thing I felt was missing was a nice cup of tea and a plate of biscuits on the way out, which is how British crisis management normally operates, but current circumstances alas mitigate against.

My successful day out didn't prevent me from receiving yet another text when I got home, this time from the NHS, telling me I was now eligible for a vaccination and inviting me to book one. If you haven't received your invite yet rest assured it'll come, maybe even after you've been jabbed, because they're sending out too many not too few. I was merely number 23 million and something, about halfway down the queue, so there's a lot more sharp stabs to come over the next few months... wherever you go to have yours.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain
#coronavirus

read the archive
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv