I woke up on Monday with a smile on my face. Why? Because I had something to look forward to and I couldn’t wait to get going.
After all the long, samey days of lockdown I was finally doing something different. Now, once upon a time, going for a vaccination might not have been top of my list of fun things to do – but having something written on one of the blank squares of my calendar is now a cause for celebration.
I’d received an invitation to have a vaccination against coronavirus at the Leisure Centre in Kirkintilloch where I live. My joy was unconfined. As I would be, for an hour or so, at least. I showered, put on my new blue top, blow dried my hair, carefully applied lipstick and eye shadow, told our cat Nico I was going out, but I’d bring back a treat.
My husband and I drove down to the vaccination centre and once again I checked that I’d brought the invitation. The car park was busy. We went inside and followed the arrows on the floor to where we handed over our invitation for vaccination. Then we sat down and waited to be called. I looked around and was astonished to see people I hadn’t seen for years.
There were mums who I’d known when we dropped our children off at playgroup in the mornings. There were women who’d taught our children at primary school. There were neighbours from the street where we used to live. There was the Boys’ Brigade captain who’d taken our sons to BB camp once upon a time. There were neighbours from the street where we now live.
So we all circulated, suitably masked and distanced, talked and enjoyed a good catch-up, how many grandchildren did we have, and wasn’t it wonderful that we were here on the very first day of the rollout at this vaccination centre.
Living through a pandemic isn’t a “first” for our generation we agreed. Remember the polio panic in the 50s, we said? Who could forget it?
My mother was so frightened that I’d get polio that I wasn’t allowed to go to the swimming baths in Coatbridge where we then lived, because she was certain the polio germs lurked there. So I never learned to swim and still can’t.
What was worse though, the local library was out of bounds too, because clearly polio-infested victims must have handled those books, she reckoned. So my chances of reading the latest Famous Five were stymied. “Not fair,” I protested.
“It’s for your own good,” she insisted. And as I sat waiting for the vaccine to fight this new pandemic, I realised that history was repeating itself. We are facing a new and deadly virus which has thrown our modern world into panic.
But as the nurse approached me with the needle while telling me I was getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, I felt tears come to my eyes.
Whether it’s polio or coronavirus which disrupts life as we know it, how blessed are we to live in a world where the men and women whose life is dedicated to scientific research work tirelessly to find cures for the latest of the cruel diseases which stalk our land.
God bless them.
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