Europe has lagged behind the UK and the US in the provision of vaccinations. Looking at the relative daily infection numbers right now, it shows. My news intake is anglophone, and much of it comes from the US and UK. Both those countries are positive and optimistic that they have the virus on the run. Here in Cyprus though, daily infections are on the rise, expected to go through 1,000 per day very soon. The hospitals have never been fuller.
The vaccination program in Cyprus gives us the choice of which vaccine to go for. Each day, qualifying people are invited to log on to a web portal and book an appointment for their vaccine of choice.
Since launch, the Astra-Zeneca jab has been plagued by bad PR. "No good if your older than...wait! No good if you're younger than...Argh! Blood clots!" Despite scientific evidence that the jabs are extremely safe, people, given the choice, shy away from the one surrounded by bad news. So much so, that in Cyprus, people have been no-showing for their Astra-Zeneca jab.
On Tuesday, Mrs L had her appointment for a jab, and I drove her to the indoor stadium taken over for the purpose. As we approached the door, we were greeted by a steward, directing us to the check-in.
"My husband has an appointment later in the week. Could you do him now?"
"Of course! Come this way."
My ID was taken, and I was sent into the room behind Margaret. Two nurses were the epitome of efficiency, getting me jabbed in no time. Then came how to manage my outstanding appointment. I think they didn't have access to the Friday calendar. A bureaucrat was fetched. I know she was a bureaucrat, as she had a mobile phone in each hand. The problem was explained.
"Ah. I'm sorry, sir. You can't have the jab today. You see all the Non-GESY (Cyprus' national health system) people are on a different list. On Friday."
The nurses looked at each other.
"Would you like to take it out?" I asked, innocence personified.
"Oh." Everybody looked at everybody else. "That's OK then."
And off she bustled, to go be important somewhere else. The whole thing took five minutes, and then we sat in the reception for the mandatory fifteen minutes to make sure there was no massive reaction. Cyprus has, on the whole, done pretty well throughout the pandemic. That's my opinion, anyway. Others disagree. Vehemently. Rapid Testing has been in place for months, with anybody going to work, required to get tested weekly. This tiny little island has been doing 50,000 tests a day. Once vaccines have been made available, they have been getting them into arms.
I feel grotty. Sore around the injection site, and heavy-headed, as if I have a hangover. I'm told that will soon pass. In comparison to getting Covid-19, I'll take this every time. Despite the rising infection numbers, I feel positive. The weather is heating up, promoting an outdoor life. Last year, the advent of summer lead to a temporary suppression of the virus, and combined with vaccinations, it feels like we are coming out of the pandemic.
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