Photographer Shelley Kjonstad after her vaccine
Photographer Shelley Kjonstad after her vaccine

In the ’jab’ queue: IOS journalists share their experience

By Tanya Waterworth, Duncan Guy, Shelley Kjonstad Time of article published Jul 10, 2021

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Independent on Saturday staff who got their jabs this week report back. No one suffered serious side effects, with slight fatigue and sore arms mentioned afterwards:

Reporter Duncan Guy:

The vaccination station at Windermere Centre was overbooked and only open to people with medical aid.

“If you don’t have medical aid, go to Moses Mabhida Stadium or Addington Hospital,” an official said, suddenly bringing three words I don't always go around thinking to mind: “Them and us”.

Addington’s jab centre has been established in the hall of the nursing college, which has a primary school feel to it. A stage with heavy curtains, a piano in the passage leading to the chamber.

Quick processing at two desk stations gave it a feel of a voting hall on an election day.

Done as quickly as placing a cross on a ballot paper, the next step was into a string of chairs, at social-distancing distance away from one another, for the final bit of paperwork.

People seemed to wonder why I was letting them go ahead of me in that queue. I was at work: taking notes of the cellphone conversations around me!

“Hey, Kobus. I thought I would update you on the Covid shot. I got a message yesterday saying go to this place (somewhere other than Addington) between 10 and 12,” said a fellow behind me. “Seeing as I’ve taken bloody off today I thought I’ll go to Addington. I tell you what, Kobus, it didn’t take 10 minutes. Not even 10 minutes. So I can recommend Addington.”

A nurse said it had been crowded earlier that morning.

Back at Windermere on the way home, the length of the “them” queue looked neither longer nor shorter than the Addington queues for “us”.

Chief photographer Shelley Kjonstad:

After I voiced concern about the pain of the actual injection, the nurse at Addington said not to worry.

“Everyone is scared,” she assured me.

I replied: “The pictures of others having the injection show the needle very far in.”

Beyond those fears, my experience was that of a place where things were happening smoothly, and of a staff who were comforting.

Most activity was in the car parks where the car guards were jostling for tips from all the people coming for their vaccinations.

Chief reporter Tanya Waterworth:

There was definitely a buzz of excitement as I sat in the queue at the vaccination site in the underground parking at Watercrest Mall in Hillcrest on Tuesday.

Having heard the morning queues were very long, I arrived at 1.45pm in the hope that the early morning queuers would be done, but I was still about 50th in the outside queue. I settled down to wait.

But sitting was not an option as the queue moved quickly; we were signed in and moved to the next queue.

The gentleman behind me was on the phone and saying it was the “fifth time” he had tried to get his vaccination. We all sat in this queue, on socially distanced chairs, well sort of … at the desks ahead. More details were required so it was all going to take a bit longer.

Meanwhile, a very anxious young woman stood on the fringes of our queue. She looked far too young to be in the 50+ crowd and the teachers had all been whisked away to a different area for their Johnson & Johnson shots.

While I wondered who she was and why she was there, the site manager came by to make sure we were all in place. When he tried to move the young woman in with the rest, she determinedly told everyone “our president Ramaphosa” had told her to remain socially distanced and she was going to remain on the outskirts of the queue at all times.

The manager let her be and the crowd good-naturedly let her move with the flow. Many have been affected and traumatised by the horrors of Covid, and empathy led the way.

Finally at the desk, details for my vaccination card were filled in and I moved on to the next queue where all details would be captured.

There was quite a bottleneck at this point and the manager reappeared and reorganised with all the efficiency of a field marshal. The queue started to speed up. There were three of four gogos together, all looking pretty unsure, and they were dealt with gently. At every checkpoint, staff were polite and patient.

Into the final queue for the actual jab, which had disintegrated into “not really a queue”, although we still all knew who was next in the line.

And then the jab, a momentary pinprick and it was done, back in 42 days. It was 3.10pm. The whole process took an hour and a half.

As I was walking out, a young clinic nurse was behind me. She was taking a quick loo break and told me they had been there since 7am, after taking an even earlier taxi in the early dark hours of the morning.

It had been a long day and her sense of humour was still great: it’s these South Africans who are going to get us all through this testing time ‒ ngiyabonga.

The Independent on Saturday

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