Voice of Real Australia: Side effects of lining up for the vaccine

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Musical chairs, stickers and lollipops - you would think getting your coronavirus vaccine was a child's game but obviously it's deadly serious.

Musical chairs, stickers and lollipops - you would think getting your coronavirus vaccine was a child's game but obviously it's deadly serious.

It was astonishing how many people want to know if the COVID-19 vaccine has side effects.

Well yes, it does, all the questions which come from friends and colleagues about whether it has side-effects.

I am not here today to tell you to have a shot, there's plenty of people taking part in photo opportunities who are doing that. It's entirely up to you.

But after having my own vaccine shot, and being a writer and all, I thought you may be interested in the process.

I was selected due to my advanced age for AstraZeneca.

Despite my feeble protests about making sure the poor countries had their vaccines first, or there are other people much more important, I realised no one was listening and it was time to join this push for herd immunity.

The first piece of advice, book ahead for your shot.

Many of these pop-up immunisation centres have waiting times for "walk-ins" listed online.

I think the work experience kid updated that list a week ago before haring back to class.

Australians don't do queues very well.

There will be people in your queue who have all sorts of horror stories about the vaccine - and like everyone to know them.

Friends who have had weeks-long stays at the hospital after their injection, arms turning black, even a zombie apocalypse.

You have my permission to throttle them.

Those of us in the queue are already on edge about clotting.

Plus we're having to dodge the people who have made bookings from stepping on our toes as they leapfrog the queue.

We had to wear masks, but social distancing, well forget it - it's turning cold now, sharing our body warmth takes greater priority than possible death.

Once the line had snaked its way inside the converted - motel I think - I had to hand over my Medicare card and driver's licence and answer a few simple questions.

After the health official finishing tapping away on their PC they filled in a little card to say I had received my first shot and shouldn't line up for a normal flu shot for a few weeks.

The little card also told me when to turn up again in three months for the second shot.

Just in case you didn't believe me, I kept it.

Just in case you didn't believe me, I kept it.

Then she slapped a round yellow sticker on my chest "Yellow!! I'm here to get vaccinated!"

Three exclamation marks in one short sentence, apparently I had lost the power of speech.

Also, there was a lollipop after everyone had their shot.

Stickers and lollipops, it was that sort of day.

We lined up again after the details were taken.

A uniformed person peered at my sticker and motioned further inside - all-up time about an hour to reach this stage.

I was motioned to a seat.

There was 10 of us in a U-shape part of the room.

Ten people, and 10 chairs.

Then you played musical chairs sliding from one to the next as people were gathered up to take the next step.

Musical chairs. As I said, it was that sort of day.

Finally, I reached the top chair and a plastic gowned lady, who was the one who administered the shot, called me into a cubicle.

There she passed me some sheets of paper.

She wanted to tell me about possible side effects but I told her I'd heard them all while outside in the queue.

Then out came the needle and the job was done, that was the easy part.

Then we all gathered in a big room, all seated rubbing our shoulders while two more gowned people watched us all for 10 minutes to see if anyone fell off their perch.

So that was it.

Other than I went shopping straight after while forgetting I had the yellow sticker on my chest.

Plus I received a text message three days later checking on possible zombie status.

So there it is, no clotting, no flu, nothing at all really just a bit of bruising about the needle mark.

And some helpful advice from the immuniser, pick your arm carefully to make sure it's not the one you sleep on.


- Chris McLennan is an agriculture writer for Australian Community Media. He has also just turned 60.

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