Having overcome my hesitation, I recently went to get vaccinated against COVID19. With much resolve, I tried twice to get the vaccine at a private hospital near my home, but when that did not yield fruit, my wife and I decided to try a different private hospital that we had been informed was offering vaccination. Before we left home, I decided to call the hospital to confirm if they had the vaccine and to our disappointment, they informed us that they had run out and advised me to try the following week. We decided to make our way to one of the government hospitals. On our way we were pleasantly encouraged when someone forwarded information by phone that the number of people on the queue at the government hospital was not long and for sure when we got there the queue was about 30 metres long (not bad when you know how crowded a government facility can be). We joined the queue and were hoping that the vaccines do not run out before our turn.

The government has a web portal where one is required to register before being vaccinated; a great tool to track vaccination progress across the country as the nation tries to fight the pestilence as well as send communication to the citizens on when their next shot is due. Since I had already done my registration, I took the opportunity to help my wife to register as we waited in the queue. The registration was not going too well as we inched closer to the vaccination desk since the portal was painfully slow. As an information technology practitioner, I can only imagine how this portal must sometimes handle huge spikes in load as many citizens try to get registered for the much-sought-after inoculation. However, being a mission-critical portal, it is necessary for those responsible to ensure its availability and performance.

The whole vaccination process was progressing well but there are a few things that I noticed could be done better. Starting with the nurse who was roving to ensure an orderly queue, I felt that she exhibited more crowd control abilities than customer service; her instructions were tough, almost confrontational. The requirement to register on the portal before being vaccinated was not known to everyone, resulting in disappointment to some on arrival at the vaccination shelter after queuing for a long time, only for one of the government orderlies to yell: “let’s not waste each other’s time; if you have not registered on the portal, go back and register”. A simple announcement to people in the queue to register would have been of great help as opposed to being surprised when one has finally reached the vaccination shelter. Anyway, I was determined to complete my wife’s registration before her turn in the shelter; you should have seen the frenzy as I filled the online form on the smartphone as one of the officials edged towards us asking each person’s ID number and verifying their registration status in the system; just as he was about to ask my wife her ID Number I hit “Submit” and the registration was in; phew! Some people were not as fortunate; in fact, I overheard one of the officials telling a person that if the registration is not working, the person can go to a cybercafe, his finger pointing to a nearby shopping centre.

Once our registration statuses were verified, the rest of the process was a breeze, only handing over my ID to a lady who was recording our details in a large book and the next station is where the inoculation was taking place. The lady who was administering the injections was efficiently executing her tasks like a well-oiled machine; the 3-step process entailed her skillfully picking the vial and pulling the apothecary’s liquid into a syringe, fearlessly piercing the upper arm of the yielded but apprehensive citizen, and finally disposing the used equipment into another container and then repeat the process for the next person. Observing this process, I could not help but remember growing up in the village when we took our cows to the communal cattle dip for vaccination after some animal disease outbreak had been declared. The government veterinary officer used to inoculate the animals with such efficiency although in this case, the same needle was used on multiple cows. The injection process was also not as gentle as the one for humans. I was glad to have ticked off the vaccination chore and headed home satisfied. Later in the day, random thoughts on the vaccination lingered in my mind such as what side effects I would experience, whether the lady injected the right amount of the inoculant and so forth. With the first dose in the system, may the antibodies awake.