At the beginning of the month Nigeria received about 4 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine with drama (read photoshoot, welcome committee and all the random unnecessary stunts this govt likes to do).
Anyway we were promptly told that for this first phase, the president and governors would receive theirs, front line workers (teachers, petrol attendant), strategic leaders (please what does this mean because I'm sure I'm one), oil & gas workers and older people. A website was also released for interested folks to register pending when it would get to their turn.
Imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through my insta-stories and I noticed that regular schmegular people who didn't fall under the umbrella above were getting the COVID-19 vaccine. So I decided to inquire cause I wasn't going to let this pass me by.
Like the screenshot above said, the people in the first phase weren't showing up and so the health workers had no choice but to give those who showed up. As the days passed by, I noticed more people were getting it and before the week rand out, I had made up my mind to get the vaccine. I reached out to my brothers, looked through the list of public health centers to find the one closest to us and decided on a day.
Bright and early on Monday morning, we headed to the Akerele Phc. We took an uber as we had gone to scout the location over the weekend so we would be prepared. Now we were thinking we would be in and out in about 3 hours based on what we had heard but alas, this was not the case.
When we got there, we could see people trying to get in. Looked like social media had created more awareness and everyone wanted to get vaccinated. At the gate, we could hear them telling people only elderly people and front line workers would be attended. Infact at some point they weren't letting people through but as true children of grace, we walked in and no one stopped us. lol
We noticed 2 queues, elderly and front line workers. We decided to join the elderly side. This was not a wise choice but at that point we didn't know. It was moving and we wanted to get it over and done with. 2 of our friends came to join us and we were now a group of 4. As the queue moved we moved along with it and lo and behold, a matron came and chased us a way. In her words 'are you old people?'.
So we were back to square one and were figuring out how to finesse the situation. My brother made a friend who claimed he knew someone there. We thought great, let's follow this guy but as time passed we realised whoever he knew was not going to help. I spoke to my brother about finding another location but ogbeni said 'we die here'. The funniest thought I had was how there was no social distancing whatsoever in a place trying to vaccinate people against covid.
After restrategising and noticing that there were young people on the front line queue, we decided we would have better luck there. We joined and started moving. Made friends with others on the queue while praying that God would help us. Every time madam matron came to that side, we would hide our faces because there was no way we were leaving without the vaccine. Every time someone said so all of you are front line workers, the real ones would chant yes while we just looked on. We also noticed the process was pretty slow because the nurse was doing everything herself. The elders' queue was moving much faster because they had a lot of hands on deck.
We get to the front of the queue and guess what? The nurse says cards have finished. We were panicking because we couldn't imagine going through that process another day. We had met some one who said she had been trying for 3 days and had gone to different centers. that wasn't going to be us.
The nurse decided to go search for more cards after our pleading and as she was going, I told her I wouldn't mind assisting her when she came back so the work would move faster. We laughed about it and that was that. The nurse came back and took me up on my offer and guys that's how I became secretary for the day.
My job was to fill the vaccine cards with the necessary details that needed to be pre-filled. By doing this, she was able to focus on giving people their vaccines. This was such an amazing moment, to have been able to help make things move quicker.
At exactly 1.30pm I got my vaccine. I remember the exact time because after you get it, you have to sit down for 30 mins before moving about.
After getting the vaccine, you then had to wait to get your details registered. This was another long, grueling process so once again I offered up my services which was to register everyone's card in some huge book which reminded me of the NYSC book of life (if you know, you know).
At exactly 4.30pm we were done. the nurse mentioned that she had 4 vaccines/cards left so if we knew people in the area who were interested we should ask them to come. This is because once the they bring it out of the cooler they have to finish it.
While this process was long and stressful, we were all happy we got the vaccine. It also looks like social media is creating more awareness because the nurse mentioned that same time last week they didn't have half of the numbers that came through.
Some centers still don't have a crowd but as days pass they'll definitely get filled up and outside Lagos is so much saner as my other brother and dad got theirs in Benin and Abuja respectively. Both were in and out in an hour.
As at today, over 500,000 Nigerians have taken their 1st COVID-19 shot.
A few things to note if you plan on getting the vaccine -
It's a patience game. They will attend to the elderly and front line workers FIRST so be ready to wait.
Eat before you go (this is normal when getting a vaccine)
Offer to help, this could be the difference on how long you spend there.
You will probably have 1 or 2 side effects but it should clear up.
If your center is like mine, don't drive there! No parking. So i suggest going to familiarize yourself with the place a day before.
Get there early if you can because while you may not be attended to first, you don't want to get there when they've serviced the numbers for the day which I hear is 200.
The second dose will be given in 3 months time. In my case, that will be June. While it is sometimes said that it should be a month after, research and WHO have said it is more effective 12 weeks after..
You still have to wear a mask, sanitise/wash your hands and observe social distancing.
As at the time of writing this it's been a week since I got the vaccine and I'm fine. I did however have side effects following the vaccine.
I had a fever, chills and body aches which lasted for about 36 hours. After that, it was just my sore arm. I'm not going to lie, for those 36 hours, I felt terrible but I'm glad I'm back to feeling like myself. I am sad however that I haven't developed super powers or become one of the X-men but maybe when I get the next dose.
Out of all us who got our vaccine that day, I was the only one who experienced this. The rest had the regular sore arm which was gone in 48 hours.
While I would like to encourage everyone to get vaccinated so life can get back to normal, I understand this is a personal choice.
Have you gotten the vaccine? If yes, what was your experience like. If you haven't, do you plan on getting it? If no, why?