Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 17 2021

First shot

I was notified recently that I could make an appointment to get my first dose of the covid vaccine. Chenbl is still waiting for his notification, though he’s only a few months younger than I am. I can’t pretend to understand all of the considerations they make, but hopefully he will get his soon. I made an appointment at NTUH, figuring they’d be more likely to know what they were doing, for last Thursday afternoon. I tried to not eat too poorly and get enough sleep the night before, but I was a bit nervous as I’ve heard a few horror stories about the aftereffects of the vaccine.

Still, nothing to do but get the thing, so I took the bus over to Hangzhou South Road after work on Thursday and walked over to the NTU Hospital gymnasium where the vaccinations were being give. A small crowd of people milled around outside, and I was dismayed to see precious little social distancing in the several lines of people here and there under the tents outside the door. I asked an assistant how to line up, and she asked me for my clinic number, which I did not know; there was no clinic number in the notification. She took my health insurance card and somehow found which line I was supposed to be in, which was mercifully a short one. An older white man kept staring at me, which was odd. Perhaps he knew me or knew of me, but I wasn’t down for conversation. He apparently didn’t understand Chinese and the assistants were kept busy explaining everything to him throughout the process. I was a bit of a panic at having to be in such a dense crowd of people in any case, and it wasn’t exactly making me chatty. And if he was one of those foreigners who think they are entitled to be greeted or whatever, he could fuck right the hell off; I was not in the mood.

There followed a long series of lines, some sitting, some standing, none with real social distancing, all gradually crossing the length of the gym. I wore goggles and two masks, and tried to stay out of the vicinity of other people’s exhalations as much as possible. I sat/stood and waited, concentrating on my breath and hearing the comforting voice of Ofosu, who narrates my meditation app, in my mind. I tried to take some photos but the Q took one look at the weird gymnasium light and said “nope.”

Eventually I reached the row of seats where the vaccination actually takes place. I rolled up my right sleeve instead of my left as most of the others were doing. “I’m a lefty,” I explained to the surprised nurse who was administering the shot. “Just relax,” I told myself.

“Yes, that’s right,” the nurse said, and before I knew it she had administered the shot. I hardly felt anything, just a light brushing sensation. “Go sit over there for 15-20 minutes, and if you feel alright, you can leave,” she said.

I sat in the post-shot area, which faced some large windows with a view of basketball courts and Hangzhou South Road outside, and continued thinking about my breath. Not really thinking of anything in particular. I had a slight headache but nothing else, so after a time I got up, took a photograph of the other people recovering from their shots, and walked back out onto the street, feeling slightly odd, conscious of the bit of tape and cotton on my shoulder. Chenbl said I should be drinking lots of water, so I bought a bottle and drank it while standing on the street near a construction site, noticing how many people were sitting inside a swank new Starbucks. I’m still getting used to the sight of people in restaurants.

My headache persisted annoyingly for the next couple of days, and I felt a few chills and aches. My arm was quite sore and I couldn’t raise it much the first couple of days, but it got better after that. I was basically fine by the weekend. According to what I’ve read the first shot doesn’t really take effect until about two weeks afterwards, so I won’t be even partially protected until that point. Still, it’s somewhat of a relief to at least be on my way. At this point some 40% of our population has had their first shots, and only like 2-3% are fully vaccinated. Those numbers are quite a bit higher for Greater Taipei, but we still have a ways to go. The next few months will be key as we continue to fight to keep the Delta variant at bay at the border. So far we’ve not experienced the abject stupidity that is surging in the U.S., apart from the proudly ignorant white expats who are still railing against vaccines and masks on alt-right hate sites like forumosa and the expat groups on Facebook. Those sites are doing active harm in the community, but of course they don’t care. The cruelty is the point, for them.

I am continuing to be cautious, not really going out much, taking precautions when I do. Still spending time around the trio of bridges where I live, exploring the different natures of the crossings of the Xindian River, including the flashy old suspension bridge, frequented by tourists and looked up at by the old men swimming underneath, the high and mighty freeway bridge under which people fish and lovers cuddle, spotlit at night, issuing its constant roar from on high, its giant curves and X’s dominating the entire river valley, and the eminently practical and unremarkable traffic bridge, from which actual people just wanting to go to work and back home gaze at the scenery along the way.

posted by Poagao at 11:39 am  

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