Style Living Self Geeky News and Views
In the Paper Hello! Create with us

Jab well done

By BṺM TENORIO JR., The Philippine STAR Published May 28, 2021 4:00 am

It’s inevitable to be emotional when you finish getting your anti-COVID vaccination.

Hope gives way to fears when you sign up for your first jab. Relief crushes fear when the second dose is done. A sense of victory is achieved.

Who wouldn’t feel triumphant when you know you can protect yourself and others with two scheduled pricks (each like an ant bite, my mother said after she was fully vaccinated)?

Even if medical experts caution that you can still get COVID after being vaccinated, there’s still a feeling of freedom when you get inoculated. The vaccine is your layer of protection.

The author (left) proudly displays his vaccination card. Nurse John Carlo Garbin, coincidentally his former student in Sunday writing class, administered the jab.

As John Carlo Garbin, my former student in the Sunday Writing Class, now a nurse, who administered my first dose of AstraZeneca last week at Cabuyao City Hospital, said, “The vaccine will help you protect yourself from developing severe symptoms from the virus so you don’t die. So other people also won’t die.”

We have feared the virus so much. Day and night we prayed for the vaccine. We have the vaccine now. With it, the virus won’t only be tamed; it can be trampled. Yet, many are still hesitant to be inoculated. Fear, again, is the enemy. Enough of that feeling.

Sinivac na ako ( I’ve gotten my ‘Sinivac.’),” my 76-year-old mother said after she got her second dose of Sinovac last week. “Hindi ako takot sa turok. Mas takot ako sa virus. Walang dahilan para matakot (I’m not afraid to be vaccinated. I’m more afraid of the virus. There’s no reason to be afraid of the vaccine).”

We have feared the virus so much. Day and night we prayed for the vaccine. We have the vaccine now. With it, the virus won’t only be tamed; it can be trampled. Yet, many are still hesitant to be inoculated. Fear, again, is the enemy. Enough of that feeling.

In Gulod, some elderly and people with comorbidities are still dilly-dallying about getting the jab. They are afraid.

One friend must have read all the fake news about the vaccine and humored me that the vaccine has microchips to probe the private lives of those who are vaccinated. I wondered what he had been reading lately.

I never had hesitations about being inoculated with the vaccine. Unlike my mother Candida, I only have fear of the syringe, a result of reaction formation when I was kid.

I bawled and howled when I got my anti-influenza vaccine in Grade 1 and anti-polio vaccine in Grade 2. In both instances, I developed a fever as a side effect of those vaccines.

I will never get used to seeing a syringe. Much more being pricked by its needle. Some years ago I had to line up at RITM early in the morning for several days to get my anti-rabies shots after a puppy bit me in the tummy.

I didn’t mind the queue at the hospital — but the syringe! I devised a way to counter my fear. I played Pavarotti and Charlotte Church, one after the other, on my phone, at full volume, while I was nearing the inoculation table until I got pricked.

It was the same device I used when I was a walk-in vaccinee (with hypertension as my comorbidity) and waited for my turn for my first jab against COVID-19. When I reached the waiting room, I listened to Ave Maria and Habanera, while gulping two bottles of free mineral water. And when my turn came, I sighed a sigh of relief because it was John Carlo, my former student, who would administer the vaccine.

  The Cabuyao City Hospital

There was absolute order outside the newly built Cabuyao City Hospital while city residents waited for their turn to be vaccinated while seated — proper social distancing protocols observed. Face masks and face shields on. In almost every spot of the hospital, an aide was spotted, helpful in maintaining the orderliness of the day.

Each of the 18 barangays of Cabuyao had a designated line, I was told, so the residents with appointments and walk-in vaccinees could wait for their turn with ease.

The summer heat could be torturous while waiting in the hallways of the hospital but the cool breeze, because the hospital was in the middle of a rice field, was friendly. I spotted some vaccinees receiving free bottled mineral water.

‘Sir, tapos na po.‘ I felt like singing Joy to the World or Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Because, really, it felt like Christmas at that moment – filled with hope, happiness and triumph. It was a joyful, not dreadful, day.

Clearly, the ongoing vaccination is an efficient and well-thought-out plan among the LGU officials of Cabuyao with Mayor Mel Gecolea, Vice Mayor Leif Opina, the city council, hospital director Dr. Gregorio Fabros, city health officer Dr. Elena Diamante and the doctors, nurses, nursing aids, midwives and other frontliners at the helm.

There was order when I underwent an assessment — questions concerning developing allergies to medication, medical condition, bleeding disorders, maintenance meds, exposure to COVID patients, among others. After my BP was taken, I came face to face with my mortality, the moment of truth. This is it, I told myself, as John Carlo very calmly asked me to sit.

My nervous tick showed as I cracked my neck left and right, like a pendulum. Syringe! John Carlo was smiling. I didn’t know if I was speaking in tongues or yodeling because all of a sudden — with the sight of a syringe — I became incomprehensible. Hysss.

I closed my eyes and prepared an aria in my head. I had not yet started singing to myself when I heard John Carlo, “Sir, tapos na po.” Oh, he had the hands of an angel — soft like silk, gentle like the feathers. I felt like singing Joy to the World or Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Because, really, it felt like Christmas at that moment — filled with hope, happiness and triumph. It was a joyful, not dreadful, day.

The next thing I knew, he was reminding me again of the possible side effects of the vaccine: swollen arm after the pricking, fever, headache, fatigue, chills. I had none except for a heavy arm. And body pains and diarrhea for two days, which, according to my own research, were also side effects.

Right after, I was given my vaccination card that bore the date for my second dose in the second week of August. The vaccination card came with another sheet of paper that explained other details: a number to call should some symptoms last for more than a week or should other side effects be felt.

It also explained that the anti-COVID vaccine would take full effect from one to two weeks after the second dose was administered. And it clearly said that even after the final vaccination, the person is still required to observe social distancing, wear a face mask and face shield, and wash hands, among others.

John Carlo led me to the recovery room, where each vaccinee was required to rest for 30 minutes before leaving the hospital. The last procedure was the taking of my BP. 110/70. I was good to go.

I was teary-eyed after my first vaccination. One more and I would be on my way to being fully vaccinated. I look forward to that day. My fear of the syringe was nothing compared to my faith that I would be able to protect myself and others. This is also my contribution to helping the economy bounce back because vaccines can also help recover economic losses caused by COVID-19.

I left the hospital with a heavy left arm and a joyful spirit. It was a jab well done.

Illustration by Hersam Sato