Covid booster vaccine and flu jab mission didn't quite have military precision but two winter nasties got a pasting – Susan Morrison

Booster time, baby! The NHS offered me some anti-Covid acupuncture with a side order of flu shot thrown in.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 4:55 am

Ingliston showground. Lowland Hall, one minute to five. This was hit-the-beach-at-Normandy military timing.

Of course, 16.59 was also peak rush hour, which has made a notable post-Covid comeback. Even D-Day would have come adrift if the 78th Armoured Division had been trapped on a Queensferry Road tailback. Driving out would be a special sort of hell, even with a good podcast for company.

Take the bus, said my husband. You like the bus, he said. This is true. I am a fan of public transport. I regard it as free-form mobile theatre. A genius has re-routed the 200 to stop outside the Lowland Hall, and it starts its epic journey to the airport just down the road.

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Rumour says that a squiffy Churchill once created an entirely new colonial outpost by drunkenly squiggling a border on an imperial map. He may then have gone on to plot the route of the 200 bus, which majestically sails to the airport via a magical mystery tour of Drumbrae and Clermiston, not forgetting the occasional flit along a compulsory diversionary route.

Fortunately, I had brought a wee bottle of juice and a packet of Fruit Pastilles. Yes, I have become the wee wumman on the bus who travels with sweeties and hankies.

Military precision may have been the hallmark of the appointment system, but by the time the bus had nobly battled through traffic, we were late.

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Susan Morrison would have arrived on the dot at 16.59 hours for her Covid booster and flu jabs, but unfortunately her bus was late

If you’re planning a jab day soon, you can’t really miss it. There’s a massive sign saying ‘Vaccine Centre’ above the door.

Has to be said, at night, in a snell wind, there is something faintly sinister about this brightly lit building guarded by grim security in hi-vis jackets. People go in, but do they come out?

Well, yes, they do, and the granite-faced guards quickly turn out to be young people from Portugal, Spain and France who are only miserable because it's danged chilly out there.

Turned out, being late was not an issue. I was greeted like a conquering hero, ticked off the booking system and then, of course, given a wad of leaflets. The NHS loves a leaflet. What a thrill to be handing out two loads of bumf. “What to expect with your Covid vaccine” and “Flu vaccine: Your Questions Answered”. Why not combine them into “The Joy of Jabs”?

My rule with NHS appointments is always take a book and always factor in at least double the time, but I was seated then called within 15 minutes and plonked in front of Jennifer, who did the side-effect talk. Jennifer must have vaccinated hundreds that day, but she made me feel like I was her very first patient.

Jennifer painlessly slotted in those two needles with the precision of Jocky Wilson.

Never felt a thing. Sat and waited to avoid the danger of “coming over all wobbly”, which is a medical term, then a hurl about the airport on the 200, and home with my juice, my pastilles and a podcast about a horrible murder in America.

All this, and two winter nasties given a right good smacking about by Jennifer and her chums at the NHS. A good trip out, I reckon.

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