My Covid-19 vaccination experience

General view of signs for a Covid-19 Vaccination Centre at the Royal Free Hospital in London, ahead

The Covid-19 Vaccination Centre at the Royal Free Hospital - Credit: PA

I’m rarely early, in fact I’m never early – not because I don’t want to be but because I always think I can fit in one more thing. But last week for my vaccine, I made an exception finding a pay by phone parking place on Lawn Road NW3 and walking down to the Royal Free well ahead of my 3pm appointment.

I must admit I was surprised to receive a text inviting me for my Covid-19 vaccine, being neither quite old enough nor specifically vulnerable. However, my feelings of excitement, relief, gratitude, curiosity and a touch if cautiousness all competed as I hit the link, and booked my slot.

Laura Marks OBE, interfaith consultant, The Common Good.

Laura Marks was reminded of the 2012 Olympics while having her vaccine at The Royal Free - Credit: Laura Marks

I was directed to the Rec Centre by little paper arrows attached to scaffolding along Fleet Road and huddled up against the bitter cold and ice, and wearing my least slippy boots, I was greeted by gloved and hatted volunteers. Noting I was five minutes early, and with no queue I was directed inside, and given a clip board with my name already printed on the top.

Whilst highly aware of some anxieties around the vaccine, indeed any vaccine, and with retired parents as doctors, for me the benefits of moving towards ending lockdown and mass infection, totally outweighed any possible negatives. My sleeve was rolled up even under my coat.

In a strange way it reminded me of the 2012 Olympics, everyone slightly nervous, volunteers everywhere, people sitting quietly on their chairs, highly professional staff and systems and, above all, a sense of togetherness.

The extraordinary blind and deaf disabilities campaigner Helen Keller summed this up this feeling of community: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

I emerged from the hall around 3pm, the time of my appointment, clutching my blue vaccination card, wearing a matching small round sticker proudly on my coat.

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Slipping and sliding my way back up Lawn Road to the car I thought I might even be home early for my next Zoom meeting. The joint efforts of the staff of the NHS with local people really is doing something wonderful.