My First Dose of Covid Vaccination: My Experience and Story

By Christina Kim - September 04, 2021


A long awaited day and posting since a while at the same time, after my one-year "silence" during the pandemic times (with only one or two sporadic posts), I am finally posting again.

Well, I just was not inspired to write anything and I always go with the flow of my heart (and mind, inspirations come from both) hence, I did not post. I was not depressed during the pandemic, just did not receive the usual visits from my "muse" (probably went "incognito" as well during the tough time).

Anyway, I am one of the late ones to join the scene or rather, the crowd of the vaccinated population. It took me months to get my appointment, waiting and checking the MySejahtera application religiously each and every single day, even several times throughout the day. (One of my former colleagues said the same thing, that he probably checked his app more than he prays!) It is the same routine each day, answering the assessment questions, refreshing on repeat mode. It can be a rather daunting process, and sometimes it makes you wonder if it is possible that you might be 'overlooked' or 'missed out' by the authorities. When you have been stuck with only waiting, all sorts of possibilities run through your mind, including if you were actually registered in the vaccine participants list. (I never thought I was not a registered citizen at least, that I am assured with the multiple rounds of leaving and entering the country, so that is confirmed though).

I never considered myself a "lucky" person either, as I can honestly say, 'Lady Luck' is rarely on my side and I am not saying this in a grudging manner. Luck never comes for granted nor to anyone so I have never depended on luck anyway. That was why I was not that disappointed when I did not manage to register for the AstraZeneca vaccine when it was opened shortly for the population, as long as I did make a go at it. To me, it was a simple matter of either getting it or not. I do not need more stress to my life, I am already an easily stressed person and that's a story that I may share separately another day.

I am not passive either, I did alert the vaccine authorities of my status and details through their channels yet still I waited. However, I never gave up on hope nor on perseverance. I was always patient when I was a child, though I have slowly become more impatient these days too (again, a different story altogether). The only thing that kept me going was my faith and I never stopped praying nor believe in God, whom I know always has the best plans in His works. After all, what is the worst that can happen, but the final call for 'walk-ins' among the masses of population 'forgotten' or 'missed out' in the scheduling? 

It is just a matter of time for everyone to get vaccinated as the end goal of the whole world is to get everyone vaccinated, or at least most of the world's population in fighting the pandemic which had plagued us for more than a year now and showing no signs of leaving, yet.

I finally had my prayers answered on Sunday, when a notification popped up on my phone to confirm my details for my upcoming appointment. My heart skipped a beat and I turned on MySejahtera app immediately, while filled with anxiety and excitement in anticipation for what's coming, while saying my prayers at the same time, hoping for the best. True enough, I finally received my vaccination appointment schedule a few days later and a quick glance at the location, I was assigned to a location far from my residence.

Now, I did not expect to be assigned to the nearest, but being on the island of Penang, I would at least thought I would be given a location on the island, as that was the norm with everyone around me. No, I am assigned off the island, to cross the bridge to mainland, or more specifically, Bukit Mertajam. Least to say, I was not quite thrilled and was definitely surprised. I have to admit, I wondered if they assigned me right. However, I was not ready to give up my chance nor spot and after hesitation, I decided to just accept it. I have waited for so long after all, and it's technically still within the same state. I will just take it as an opportunity to take a short road trip since no form of travel had been allowed as of now anyway. It will be refreshing and a privilege, to get to cross the bridge and leave the island to somewhere different.

Yes, that must be it, that must be God's plan for me, to give me a fresh breath of air.

So, I prepared mentally and physically for the trip and of course, my vaccination.

The day finally came, Thursday, and I took the trip early in the morning (oh, I was thankfully blessed with a morning slot, possibly the first and earliest slot, which just suits me) to avoid any roadblocks or morning work traffic to cross over to the mainland. It took me no time to reach my destination.

I was definitely the earliest and the first one there, never surprising for the ever over-anxious me. (Well, maybe not entirely because of my usual style of anxiety but what can one do when it is finally my turn to receive vaccine, right? Forgive my anxiety

Obviously, no one was there nor the staffs on duty yet and it looked like a pretty quiet morning for the hospital. I walked around, peering through the glass windows of the interior of the hospital lobby which was not as big as most private hospitals that I know of, or have been to. I roamed around the grounds and was expecting they will probably start on time, but to my surprise, the hospital personnel on duty for the vaccination started to walk over the to the outdoor booth where the registration takes place along with the waiting area (it goes station by station, I was told). They immediately attended to me.

Station 1: Registering of arrival and checking in of the location of the hospital on MySejahtera, along with the confirmation of vaccination appointment date. They will also confirm if this is the first or second dose, marking it on the paper questionnaire form, which also consists of the list of standard Covid assessment questions. It was a quick procedure and I even enjoyed a lovely banter with the staff who was just so friendly and accommodating.

Apparently, they have been receiving mostly vaccinees from the island for the past month already and had also received phone calls from both the islanders who have been calling to question their assigned location when they are based on the island and also their local mainland residents who even called to accuse them of not prioritising their own local population! The staff on duty recounted the predicament the hospital was in and explained that it was not even of their own doing. All they have is the final assignment list from the official and centralised Vaccine committee and their job is just to follow and do their part in vaccination. Even the type of vaccine is allocated and they only know when it is allocated/arrived. The allegations they have to put up with?

Anyway, after that, I was ushered into the lobby where I waited shortly, then had my blood pressure measured while in the seated waiting area, facing what I can see is the next station, with the rows of tables lined up facing me. I still had the earlier questionnaire with me, which the nurse who took my blood pressure reading collected from me. I barely had to wait long, for again, the staff took their places at the station and called for us shortly. Oh, by this time, the number of vaccinees had started coming in, but still, it wasn't so much as I would call a big crowd (thankfully!), I would much prefer a quiet morning if you would please, paranoid whatsoever. 

Station 2: Confirmation of Covid assessment and also quick checking of medical history, especially allergies or any health risks requiring attention. The staff attending to me was also really friendly and chatty, well, I did prompt a bit of conversation and she told me the same thing as the first station, telling me that vaccinees would always find a way to complain, finding fault with the the type of vaccine offered at their centre (they would prefer another when existing is offered, shaking my head). She then beckoned me to wait in my seat for a short while where the next station would include a quick consultation with a doctor and then, I would receive my vaccine in the subsequent station. In this station too, they would notify me of the type of vaccine and asked if I would be fine with it. (Actually I already asked at the first station earlier, so I was already aware of the vaccine type).

Station 3: Consultation with the doctor. A quick run through the previous remarks from Station 2, as marked on the health/medical history questionnaire with a certified doctor. The doctor would take special interest in allergies, making sure it is noted in the form with further assessment questions such as previous reactions when allergy strikes and with past vaccines. It is also time to relate any medical condition or anything that requires special attention to the doctor.

It was then to a different area where there were various enclosed rooms, the next station for the vaccination finally. Outside each room, there was a chair, presumably for waiting. I sat on one and they told me that I will be called shortly. Again, the nurse came to measure my blood pressure while I was sitting outside. Before long, they already called out my name.

It is finally my turn!

Station 4: Vaccine administration. I sat down on the chair where I was ushered and there is an attending nurse who was preparing. I took out my phone to try to capture the moment, and the nurse quickly turned to tell me that there should be no recording of the preparation of the vaccine process but I can take a photo when the vaccine is administered. I obliged and observed the nurse opening a new syringe from the sealed packet then injecting the required amount as she declares along the way to me, also naming the vaccine type. Then she informed that I can take out my phone if I would like to record as she raised my arm. However, it was not as easy as I thought, holding the phone in the other hand while raising one for the vaccine and the nurse told me to relax my arm. It must be my lack of experience in photo or videography these days (lost the practice!) and in the end, I gave up, and told the nurse, go ahead with the vaccine, it's more important and proceeded to keep my phone as to not cause any interruption. She positioned the syringe to the upper arm (slightly beneath the shoulder) and warned me, this will just hurt a little and in the tip of the syringe went into my skin. Honestly, I am not really afraid of needles/injection and I did not feel anything even when the syringe was already out (not boasting or anything). I barely felt it and was surprised that it was done. It was even faster than a blink of an eye. The nurse was really efficient and proceeded to put on a band aid on the injected area, telling me that it is over, "There, you have received your vaccine". I asked to confirm the vaccine bottle again before I left and she was kind enough to show me again (yes, I already saw it earlier).

Station 5 (Final): Observation after vaccination. After receiving my vaccine, I went out of the room and sat down on the same chair outside the room. It is customary for everyone to wait for at least 15 minutes or more after receiving the vaccine for observation. I sat down and waited patiently of course, as I am a hypersensitive person and I would not mind waiting. I observed other vaccinees who exited their rooms after receiving their vaccine too, sitting outside their rooms just like me. However, most of them were allowed to leave earlier after having their blood pressure taken one final time. I waited for  much longer compared to everyone else, for even those who came out much later had already left. Not that I am complaining, for I really do not mind waiting longer as I have a highly reactive body. I did not keep track of my waiting time but it was not 30 minutes and it seemed they put my form aside while attending to the others. Initially I was curious and texted my husband wondering, and he asked if I had told the doctor anything during the consultation to which I related that I mentioned my allergies and he told me, that could be the reason I was made to wait a little longer. He also commended the hospital for measuring blood pressure before and after vaccination for he did not have the same experience during his vaccination. 

Then I was thankful for being assigned to this centre, despite it being far off from my residence on the island. I had faith in God for his plans and now I see His reasons for this assignment. It is much more assuring to be in the vicinity of medical professionals and on the grounds with all the equipment and necessary facilities should anything occur. I was fine with waiting longer for the observation for if any reaction really occurred, at least I was still in the hospital compared to being at home. So I am truly thankful for this arrangement.

The nurse finally came to take my blood pressure reading and gave me an appointment card for my final dose in a few weeks' time, telling me to just come as scheduled to receive my vaccination without having to wait for assignment on the application anymore.

I was allowed to leave the hospital through the door on the side.

Well, there it is, and before leaving the ground, I was looking for a place to take a photo to commemorate my vaccination and unfortunately, there is no special station nor photo booth like they do in KL, and I just made do with the big banner on the wall near the entrance as you can see in the top photo. 

That's my experience and I am thankful for these wonderful medical professionals who made my vaccination experience a breeze and also a relaxing one, albeit a pleasure too. I pray for their well-being for their kindness and the great lengths they go to in their dedication and services.

Now, I wait patiently for the next dose, which will be another story, soon! 

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