My first day volunteering at the first Vaccination Centre in the town which is in the Civic Centre in Folkestone, was rewarding in so many ways. I thought I should write about it here, a little every day, as I reflect on what it means to the recipients, to our community, to me and to everyone involved in administering it.
This Civic Centre site is a drive-through facility which was always going to be a challenge in mid-winter. Isn’t it amazing how this virus has changed us to love being outdoors; to sit on the beach on a frosty January day and sip coffee.
Neither the cold nor the rain nor working without cover seem to matter at the vaccination centre. There is a buzz. Brilliant enthusiasm to vaccinate as many people as possible.
The first cohort to receive the vaccine is the over eighties. One after the other – some in taxis – they are driven up. Many told me that they had not been out of the house since last March. Obviously scared, but scared of the virus – not the jab. Sometimes wearing a mask but often a scarf almost hiding their face, they have been deprived of company and after a year of sometimes very irresponsible television they are scared to be out but desperately wanting the vaccine.
It is their release to freedom and to be able to enjoy what is left of their lives. I didn’t see anyone fear the needle or ever the slightest sign of a wince as they had the jab. ‘Do you consent to being injected?’ I asked every time. ‘What a stupid question’ I am sure they thought. Why do you think I am here? but don’t come too close to me.
I overheard one man say: “that needle doesn’t look half the size it does on the telly”; the power of the media!
More than any medicine that they have had in their life this is a miracle drug. It is no placebo having a fantastic success rate but I am certain that it has a powerful placebo effect as well. It has amazing power to help to heal the fear and the feeling of despair and loneliness. It opens a door metaphorically and in reality to meeting friends and getting outdoors.
Being able to be there as a volunteer was a great feeling and it was for all of us. I along with a small team from Rotary’s two clubs in Folkestone have had the privilege to be able to offer the opportunity to members of our town to volunteer and be part of the vaccination programme. I have never seen people rally so willingly or so quickly to a cause. There is so much to say.
Tomorrow at 8am I will be a marshal at the first day of the second centre in the town in the old Debenhams store.
What would we do if this vaccine was not available.