Rachel Selby

Thank you, Israel for my unexpected vaccination

At 3.50pm Jerusalem resident Rachel Selby got a call from her health provider. Less than an hour later she'd had her first vaccination against Covid-19

January 05, 2021 14:15

Monday January 4 
3.20 pm 
 I'm giving an English lesson to six 4th Graders on Zoom. The phone rings. I don't give the lady time to tell me anything, I say I'm a teacher giving a lesson and I'll be able to talk in another 30 minutes. Had I known what it was about, I would never have hung up.

 3.50 pm on the dot: She calls back. She's from Maccabi, my health fund. Would I like to make an appointment for the first round of vaccinations? Of course I would, but as I told the person I spoke to a couple of weeks ago, after receiving invitations by SMS, email and a phone call, I'm allergic to latex and they warned people with allergies to speak to their doctor first. Last time I was told that as I'm not yet 60, I don't really qualify. Which begged the question - why invite me to make an appointment then?

Since then, they are filling in free slots with people in their 50s so as not to waste opened batches of vaccination that have been out of the freezer too long to put back. I don’t know if they are targeting over 50s who are vulnerable or all over 50s. I don’t have any co-morbid conditions but my doctor did write ‘overweight’ on my medical file last time she weighed me.

This nice lady asks if I'm allergic to any medicines and specifically any inoculations. No and no. So you're fine, can you come at 4.20? Whoa, I'm not sure I can get there by 4.20. Ok, 4.40? Done.

I'm about to hang up when she says, "One more thing. Your second jab will be on the 25th January also at 4.40." (This is the Pfizer vaccination.) I'm amazed. Are you an angel from heaven?
The truth is that Israel does what it does best in a crisis. We're used to crises. 

 3.55 pm: I dance around my apartment feeling like I've won the lottery.

 4.05 pm: I jump in a taxi. "Driver! The Jerusalem Payis Arena! And don't spare the horses!" (I'm paraphrasing.)

 4.20 pm: I walk into the Arena. They give me a number at the door which corresponds exactly to the number showing on the screen. Cubicle 9. Straight in.

 4.21 pm: I give my ID number. "Rachel Selby? I see you had your flu shot three weeks ago." Yes and yes. "Which arm?" Reader, I didn't feel a thing. It felt like a prick rather than an injection and certainly less intrusive than the flu shot.

 4.22 pm: I'm sitting in the lobby having been instructed to wait 10 minutes before leaving.

 4.50 pm: I'm home and half vaccinated. The trouble is that no one knows which half. And anyway, my 50% immunity doesn't kick in for 8-10 days. But who's going anywhere in the next month anyway? We too are heading for a strict stay-at-home lockdown due to start within 48 hours.

Tuesday January  5
 After 24 hours, I have had absolutely no side effects. My arm felt tender around the location of the shot last night, and if I touch it, it is still a bit sore. 

Apparently, we are stopping the first round of vaccinations at the end of this week and spending the rest of January giving the second round. I wasn't going to bother with this first round. I thought I'd contact my GP, maybe have to get an epi-pen and a doctor's note. Whatever, I planned to be ready for the February intake. I was quite happy to let the first 1.5 million people try it out before me. But, now I'm happy, relieved, honoured, and very grateful to have been given this opportunity.

Rachel Selby blogs at

January 05, 2021 14:15

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