While the vaccine has been available to the public in Xiamen for months (including foreigners) and free, I have been putting off actually getting the shot. It’s not because of any dumb notion of anti-vaxxers, or not trusting the science. It’s more that I, along with the majority of people in China, aren’t really anxious for it. Like, it doesn’t feel that important. It’s 100% voluntary for everyone, even students, so no one is forced to get it and as a result, people are waiting.
After the very messy and poorly handled outbreak, China has been very serious about controlling Covid. There have been few outbreaks and when it happens it doesn’t spread to other cities thanks to strict lock downs. The country has been open and thriving for about a year now so we haven’t felt much lack. (China was the only major country with economic growth in 2020.) I can’t travel internationally, but domestically all restaurant, clubs, shopping areas have been open for about a year, and we can have large gatherings and travel around the country with no fear of getting sick.
So really I have nothing to complain about, and don’t have much worry of catching the virus. And everyone knows the Chinese brand vaccines aren’t the most effective, and they will probably be improved upon as time goes by so why rush it? So basically, why go out of my way to do it? That’s kinda why I’ve been putting it off for so long.
Also I live in the world’s most populated country and even on a good day that means one thing: Long ass lines.
They had a day when a crew of doctors and nurses descended onto the school and set up a vaccine clinic. I was willing to stroll down the street to get it, but my school has 20,000 students and it was only one day and they managed to do 11,000 people. ELEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE!! IN ONE DAY!!! IN ONE PLACE!!! It was at the school stadium, and the lines were so long, some students waited 3-4 hours. So, I passed.
There have been many other offers before and after that, with even a community group helping out foreigners who might have questions, but again, I passed. It was on the other side of the city and even though a bunch of my friends went together I couldn’t be bothered to take the short subway ride to meet them.
So I waited until this weekend when the vaccine brigade came back to my school and set up another clinic back in the stadium not just for one day, but for three. The first day had assigned times for faculty and students, but then the next days were just open.
So with a vaccine clinic a two minute walk from my house, and no lines if I went early, how could I justify not going? Aside from them actually showing up at my house, that’s the easiest way for me to get my shot.
So Azhi and I went Sunday morning, and the process was simple and probably similar to most people in western countries. They had tables set up by the stadium entrance where you got your temperature taken and had to fill out a basic form with ID number, full name, any health risks/allergies you might have, which you have to sign.
The next stop was under the stadium stairs where you met with a nurse or doctor who looked over your form, asked if you felt okay and was available for any questions you might have. (The girl in front of us had about a million, so that was annoying, but I will admit the doctor was really patient in answering them.)
Then it was over to the computer station where they entered all my passport info (locals had their ID and an app they could fill out for an electronic record. As a foreigner I couldn’t do that.) And then onto the vaccine stations. Each one had a desk with a nurse and a helper, a computer, printer and a fridge where each dose was taken out when needed. They found my name in the system, double-checked my ID, again asked if I felt okay, then a quick jab and a printout of the vaccine record with the time of my jab.
Then it was onto a waiting area with plastic chairs (and giant fans, it’s super hot in Xiamen already) for my 30 minute wait period. They had water set-up and volunteers and nurses walking up and down the sitting area to keep an eye on anyone with any negative reactions. They had a special room set-up if you didn’t feel well, and an emergency crew with an ambulance waiting to bring anyone to the hospital.
We had to wait 30 minutes, then could go to the exit where they double checked the time, gave my vaccine record an official stamp, and that was that! Vaccinated. About the same process as most people, right? Although most people probably didn’t have a long jump sand pit in the waiting area, lol.
I’ve read articles and heard stories of people in America feeling like crying with joy after they got their vaccine because they knew they were doing something big and meaningful that could change their life. I love that! But I just don’t have that feeling here because society, and my daily life, hasn’t been very affected by the virus.
BUT, I do feel happy though that I am in the “cool kid vac club” and I do feel like I am doing my part for the international community. Everyone needs to get the vaccine so things can start opening up again and we can get back to “normal.” While I feel like it isn’t at all necessary to me in my daily life, I do feel that it is essential for me as a human, and I kind of owe it to the rest of the world to do my small part.
And for the record I got the Coronavac vaccine and had zero side affects, which is pretty common for me as I tend not to react to medicines or vaccines. And yes, I won’t miss my second shot which I’ll need to go to another clinic to get since they probably won’t be returning to my school. But a small price to pay so that flights can open and borders can open and maybe…just maybe…one day I can visit everyone in America again.