Pursuing the jab: A citizens narration of time at a vaccine centre

by | Jul 29, 2021 | COVID 19 | 0 comments

Brian Rungano Temba

Although Zimbabweans have been responding positively to the call to get vaccinated, inefficiencies are becoming an obstacle to some well meaning citizens.
The sloth at vaccination points has demoralised many Zimbabweans, who have opted to return home than endure undue disappointments.
Shuvai Munyeyi*, a single mother of two woke up on Tuesday morning determined to go and get her first jab of the vaccine.
She had lost two close friends in her neighbourhood to the COVID-19 pandemic all in the space of one week.
The pain of losing the only people who she spoke to from their church was deep but not as frightening as the idea of leaving her two daughters all alone in this world.
Ms Munyeyi’s maternal instincts steered her as she marched to Kambuzuma Poly Clinic that chilly morning.

When she arrived at the Clinic at 7am and was given her waiting ticket, number 88 by a male attendant at the clinic.
As she looked around to see how many people were ahead of here she noticed another lady from her neighbourhood Rumbidzai.
Ms Munyeyi waved at Rumbi and showed her her waiting ticket, to which Rumbi laughed, “ We came here at around 6.00am that’s why we got the first tickets,” as she showed off her number 12 waiting ticket.
The situation reminded Ms Munyeyi of the days she used to sleep in the streets of Harare outside the Bank just to get in and withdraw cash from her mother’s pensions.
Fortunately it was not necessary anymore otherwise she would catch pneumonia in the extremely cold winter weather at night.
Just as Rumbi was tucking the ticket back in her knitted jersey’s pockets, the queue that was more of a scatter started to take form and she rushed to her place ahead far ahead.
Disgruntled muttering could be heard increasing from the front and those at the back of the queue started stretching their necks out trying to see what was causing the commotion.

“Why are those people moving to the front of the queue when we came in first,” asked a rather impatient youthful lady in the queue.

The male attendant who did not seem like the security nor one of the nurses responded, ‘these are the elderly who we don’t want to catch a cold out here, so they will get first preference.’

The noises seemed to die down until a seemingly young vaccine seeker was made to skip the line.

Instinctively the two meter gaps in the queue closed up a momentarily disregarding the social distance rule the attendant was monotonously reciting as he handed the waiting tickets.

It would seem there were maybe four visibly convincing senior citizens of the 23 people that had moved to the front of the queue.
The explanation from the ‘Attendant’ was that they were the ones who failed to get the jab yesterday after the clinic ran out of Vaccines.

Seeing all this Ms Munyeyi was puzzled, just a week ago she had watched on television Minister of Finance and Economic Development receiving a shipment of COVID-19 Vaccination doses.

“Would they have been a shortage because of the turnout? Or the nurses closed up early because they needed to catch traffic back home? But don’t they get ferried home by Public service buses?” Ms Munyeyi reflected in silence as she waited her turn.

Right behind here was another young lady who had two masks worn on top of another, she showed discomfort on her forehead with the contact she was making with the people on the queue.

“This is why I never wanted to come here I should just get the jab in Borowdale or some other low density Vaccination centre, this is exactly how you get the virus,” she said breaking away from the queue and walking away until she disappeared behind the bending queue that went on for another 100 meters.

When the doors where to the clinic opened signaling the beginning of the vaccinations, the Security came out sorting out the queue’s social distance.

After the 23 people from yesterday’s batch got their jabs Rumbi waved at Ms Munyeyi excitedly signaling she was getting closer to receive her jab.

That turned out to be another 40 minute wait.

What appeared to be a company staff bus drove into the premise and dropped off a group of well dressed people who stood there as if they were waiting to be welcomed as important guests. A nurse attended to them and took them to the front of the line just a Rumbi was three places away from getting her jab.

This happened more than 4 times and the people on the queue became restless and started complaining.

One nurse came out to explain that these people were actually essential service workers who had to return to their work.

A middle aged man who clearly looked drunk jokingly said, “I have more important work to attend to than just sitting at a desk all day and going home after lunch and I didn’t get that special treatment, maybe I should have come in my uniform.”

By the time Rumbi and Ms Munyeyi finally got their jabs it wall already high noon and the nurses were now closing up their doors saying they have to do data capturing.

The two ladies walked back home laughing about how surprisingly painless the jab was.

They parted ways at Rumbi’s gate and Ms Munyeyi started realizing she had done it, finally she had taken the jab that she had dreaded and criticized openly in their church groups along with the two deceased churchmates.

She dreaded going to the local clinic for her next jab and serously considered going north of Samora.

“If I perish, I perish,” she said to herself while opening the gate to her home and seeing her two daughter sitting by the fire boiling water she only assumed was for steaming.

*Munyeyi`s name was changed to conceal her identity in the tightly knit community in which she lives. She gave the narration to our reporter Brian Temba, who consolidated the experience into a feature story.