Scottish Daily Mail

Vaccine that means I can finally say... I do!

- Emma Cowing

IDID not, in all honesty, have a visit to an indoor bowling arena in Castlemilk on my bingo card for 2021. But as I sat on a folding chair in my mask, I can’t say I would have wanted to be anywhere else.

It was my turn to get the vaccine this week, you see, the hallowed blue envelope turning up on my doorstep last Friday to great whoops of joy.

I hadn’t expected it for a couple more weeks, the programme having seemingly slowed down slightly after the over-50s were completed.

But it turned out that as a patiently waiting forty-something, I was far from alone. A text from a friend who lives nearby revealed that she and her husband had both been called on the same day as me, while my fiancé’s date is in the diary for Monday.

Other contempora­ries, I saw from social media, were also receiving their jabs, swapping experience­s on side-effects (take two paracetamo­l before you get it, put ice on your arm afterwards) and gleefully holding up their blue envelopes. Our time had apparently come.

And it felt, well, liberating. The atmosphere in the bowling arena, turned, temporaril­y, into a vaccinatio­n centre, was light and friendly, the staff diligent and thorough.

When I told my vaccinator how pleased I was to be there, he beamed so widely the smile almost peeked out of his face mask.

‘People tend to fall into two categories,’ he told me. ‘Either they’re a bit scared of the needle, or they’re saying “bring it on”.’

I know this is all old hat to the ones who have gone before us – our elderly pioneers who had their jabs in January and February and who, by now, may well have had their second.

They have swapped stories and queued in a municipal building now being used for a purpose its constructo­rs could never have imagined, starting to imagine a life after Covid.

But it is also true to say that when the vaccine rollout started back in the bleak cold January lockdown, I never dared dream that my age group – depressing­ly advanced, I’d always thought, but judged by our medical superiors to be really rather young – would get the first jab so quickly.

How could they roll it out to so many so soon? What about the organisati­on, the supply chain, the letters, texts and phone calls that needed to be sent and made? The staff found and put onto rotas, the buildings commandeer­ed, the transporta­tion of the vaccine itself in delicate and often expensive circumstan­ces? And yet here we are.

It is an extraordin­ary effort, and one of which Scotland, and every person involved in the rollout, can be proud.

I used to joke that by the time our much-delayed wedding rolled around in August I might just be getting the first jab, and knowing my luck, it would probably be on the day.

I had visions of myself in a white frock and a mask, rushing straight from the vaccinatio­n centre to the altar like some sort of bad sitcom.

Now it looks like not only myself and my fiancé, but our whole wedding party and our families, will be fully vaccinated by the time we tie the knot. Even at Easter that seemed unlikely.

CONSIDErIN­g this makes me realise what a huge step forward this latest tranche of vaccinatio­ns – and the ones shortly coming up for the under-40s and beyond – is for all of us.

It means generation­s who have been cruelly ripped apart for months on end can reunite, without fear. That we can look forward to a summer of hugs and holidays, of family gatherings, of life itself, in all its complex normality.

Pleasures long denied, brought back to us through the miracle of science, medicine, and enough NHS logistics to make your head spin.

With the younger generation­s now getting jabs, older ones will, I hope, feel more liberated, knowing that the ever-increasing vaccinated percentage of the population makes us all safer.

I can’t wait to get back to that indoor bowling arena for the second time. As my vaccinator would say, bring it on.

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