I got the jab and thought, who are all these old folk ...then it dawned on me, they were all 52 like me!

John Dolan got his first Covid-19 vaccine at City Hall this week... here he shares some advice
I got the jab and thought, who are all these old folk ...then it dawned on me, they were all 52 like me!

EFFICIENT SERVICE: The vaccination centre at Cork City Hall, where John Dolan was among the tens of thousands who had their Covid jab this week.

I COULD have blasted it all over Facebook. I could have posted a photo of my vaccination card on Twitter.

I suppose I could even have announced the news on Instagram or Tik-Tok... but, like most of the people who were sat around me at Cork City Hall on Monday morning, that would have been well beyond my capabilities.

But no, dear reader, I decided to share the good news with you exclusively here (assuming you didn’t find out about it from my secret files on the dark web first!): I got my Covid jab!

Yes, my appointment with Dr Pfizer (part 1 of 2), finally arrived.

I got the text the Friday evening before last, when yet another power cut had plunged our house into darkness (what the hell are the ESB doing in our area, turning it into a third world village?).

My phone pinged and I let out a yelp of joy.

“Is that a message saying the power is coming back,” my wife asked me, shivering as she contemplated lighting the fire again (well, it is nearly June).

“No,” I beamed triumphantly. “It’s my Covid jab! Monday, City Hall, 10.10am.”

I didn’t expect to be so joyful, to be honest. I had registered all of ten days earlier and was starting to wonder if they had missed me off the list, as the days ticked by and I kept seeing more and people announcing their vaccinations on social media.

“Bloody attention-seekers,” I muttered to my wife.

But here I was, letting out a yelp as I got the news of my own appointment with the needle.

Many of you have got this to come, so I will offer you some practical advice on the vaccination, and run you through what happens on the day.

I took a couple of paracetamol before I left home, then I arrived nice and early in Cork and parked in the City Hall car park.

When you are leaving City Hall, you will be directed to a machine which allows you to punch your card and get a reduction on your car park payment — a nice touch, I thought, from the council.

I had a stroll around city streets I had barely seen in a year, then ventured to the Anglesea Street entrance of City Hall as advised, five minutes before my jab was due.

Then, it is a short stroll, following the arrows until you register at a booth — bring ID like a passport or driving licence, as well as your phone showing the text confirmation. You answer a few questions about your health, Covid and vaccinations, and then are ushered through to one of the waiting booths. It’s all incredibly easy and efficient.

I had a little natter with my nurse, looked away as I am not keen on needles, and that was it, job done, or rather, jab done.

Later, at home, I drank lots of water and took another couple of paracetamol in the evening when I started feeling a bit woozy and slightly off colour. I slept like a log and felt much better on Tuesday morning.

After you get the jab, you are shown to a waiting area in City Hall where you have to sit down for ten minutes or so, just to ensure that there are no nasty immediate reactions.

It’s a purely precautionary measure as reactions are extremely rare, although it’s strange how your mind plays tricks with you, and you start to wonder if you are feeling faint or just imagining it!

While in this observation area, I had the chance to glance around at my fellow jab-ees. We were all masked and mostly glancing at our phones. One fella — there’s always one! — answered his phone and bellowed: “Wha! WHAAA! Yes, dear, I just had my jab... fine thanks, see ya later. Bye. BYYYEEEE!”

It struck me, as I glanced around this mass of grey and greying or balding hair, that I was sat among some old people... then it dawned on me: They were all likely in my age cohort, they were all 52 like me!

After that startling fact had sunk in, I began to feel a little pride in my generational tribe.

Those of us born between 1965 and 1980 are known as Gen X, and I like to think of us as a stoic lot, brought up in recessionary times who nevertheless enjoyed wonderful, free and innocent childhoods, before taking life’s booms and busts in our stride.

The Baby Boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — have had their shot, now it is a case of, move over, boomers, and let Gen X have their turn. We rolled up our sleeves as one and did our duty!

The one thing that struck me a lot on Monday was how quickly these vaccines have been mass-produced, and how incredibly effective they are proving to be.

If you take Leo Varadkar’s St Patrick’s Day address last year as a starting point for Ireland’s Covid-19 fight, then a mere 433 days had passed between then and me getting my vaccination.

It’s remarkable to think that, in that time, the world’s greatest scientists and health experts had produced, tested, and were now rolling out a programme that will give us almost complete protection from this dangerous new virus, and allow us to live normal lives again.

I was proud to get the Pfizer jab, given that it will shortly be produced in Ireland, but it’s amazing that all the approved vaccines so far are doing their job so well, and are also covering the variants that are springing up.

When you think it took decades of work for researchers in Oxford to recently find a vaccine for malaria that achieved 77% efficacy in early stage trials — making it the first malaria vaccine to meet the World Health Organisation target of 75% — you fully realise the swiftness and efficiency of the Covid vaccines, being well above that 75% efficacy figure.

If I had one suggestion to improve the vaccination system here, it would be to introduce a way for people to make a donation when they get their Covid jab, which would go towards expanding the Covid vaccine roll-out in poorer countries.

After all, Monday was a good day for me, and for 40,000 other members of Gen X. And we didn’t have to pay a cent...

Finally, can someone out there clear up a little family debate?

My nurse put a plaster on my arm after my jab, but when my wife went to City Hall the next day, she got no plaster.

My wife has a theory that they only give plasters to the wimps who are scared of a needle, even though I reckon I was calmness personified for my vaccination.

I, on the other hand, pointed out that I was a red-blooded man and she was the bloodless sort.

So, did you get a plaster? And can someone tell me why I got one and my wife didn’t?!

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