There was something about a needle penetrating one’s right shoulder, the content of the syringe entering one’s body, introducing a foreign fluid that is, it is hoped, going to bolster one’s immunity against this virus.
There was something about the volunteer nurse, fully covered in personal protective equipment, who held the syringe as if it’s an extension of her finger as it probes into one’s orifice.
There was something about this nurse’s face, hidden from one’s sight, behind the facemask and plastic face shield that, when used together, according to this government, will reduce the probability of her, along with all the health workers like her, from getting the virus from the thousands of people she vaccinates every day (or will keep her from spreading the contagion to the people she inoculates in the event she has it).
There was something about the rapidity with which she pressed the plunger, the quickness and deliberateness in her movements because whatever delay she incurred would have repercussions on when her day would come to a close.
There was something about that imagined smirk/smile on her face after she’s pulled the needle out of one’s shoulder, she looking content with the fact that the fluid had been administered without much wastage or anything that can be considered a freak accident–the needle breaking, perhaps, while it was still lodged in one’s flesh.
There was something about the volunteer nurse’s nonchalance and sangfroid as she avoided looking at the direction of a woman screaming as if she was in front of her house being devoured by a conflagration as she was being jabbed at the same time as this writer was.
I had my first of two vaccine jabs this afternoon in Pedro P. Cruz Elementary School in Mandaluyong. I received yesterday an SMS from the administration of the condominium where I am staying that my vaccination was scheduled for 1pm today.
I got in the area, a medium-sized public primary school tucked in a residential area before one reaches Pasig River that leads to Makati, 30 minutes before my time, but since my name was in the list, the entire procedure was a breeze.
I filled out some requisite forms, showed my identification, then was shepherded, together with a few other people who have a knack for answering government forms very quickly, to the waiting nurses who were brandishing their prepared syringes like they’re sincerely wanting to be of service to this government who is fighting a sluggish war against the virus.
This before I signed a document that I was fully aware that I was to get Sinovac, assuring me that it’s safe, but that I have to psych myself up in case my body reacts violently to their vaccine. Fearing this would be my only chance of getting a vaccine, and that my application in Quezon City will be overlooked or that the other one in Loyola Heights gets ignored, I reluctantly, but careful not to show it, walked towards the anonymous volunteer nurse who failed to hide from me, despite her being fully clothed in PPE, the excitement that bubbled up from within her to introduce her hypodermic needle into my flesh.
I lingered in the “observation area” for a good thirty minutes, twenty minutes longer than I was told I could, while I awaited my partner to pick me up. I resisted the urge to take a selfie in front of the tarpaulin wall to document my completion of the first vaccine.
I left through the back door of the school and found myself in a quiet street lined with trees. I took a couple of turns, happy to see, finally, my partner, after not having seen each other for a week following a fight, waiting for me outside.