Thursday 25 August 2022

All preventative protections matter

Easy on the body

The day after I returned from Cape Town, I attended a walk-in vaccination centre for the spring booster I was invited for by my GP through a text message when I was away. I had taken the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty mRNA vaccine for my first two jabs in February and May, then the first booster in November, but they only had the Moderna Spikevax mRNA vaccine, and I was fine with that.

A few days later, I was asked if I would like to queue up for the Monkeypox vaccine, but I was not up to it, I had probably overloaded my body that was first acclimatising from a southern hemisphere winter to a northern hemisphere summer along with the mild side effects of the other vaccine, it would have been quite unwise to then take on another vaccine, even if I could have coped well.

Public notices are hard

The next weekend had another queue for the Monkeypox vaccine, but the eligibility criteria on every reading failed the plain English test in my view as it seemed to exclude a critically vulnerable cohort that I belonged, and even at their third attempt after many remonstrations, it did not improve until I got a personal assurance on Twitter that our cohort was not excluded.

It would have just taken a slight modification of citing minimum eligibility that would have been inclusive rather than what seemed to be a narrowly defined set of criteria that gave more access to the less vulnerable just because they attend had attended the public health clinics in the last 12 months and they were on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PreP).

Not in the weather forecast

Anyway, for a 9:00 AM opening of the doors, I took a cab to the venue arriving at 8:10 AM and the queue was already about 150 deep. I had checked the weather and it suggested a clear day, but within 20 minutes, there was a turn, and it was raining. Many of us did not have any protection against the elements, I just opened a large Aldi shopping bag over my head, as a covering.

It did not seem it would let up, so I came to an agreement with the men ahead and behind me to rush home to get umbrellas for our protection. I called a cab and by then, there was a downpour, got home, picked up 4 umbrellas, a waterproof jacket, a poncho, some bottles of water and snacks, and then returned to the queue that had moved up about 30 places.

Come up hither

Giving the men umbrellas, though they refused the drinks, I was informed that they had all been given tickets in my absence. I went up to the coordinator to get a ticket afraid that I would now be put at the end of the queue that now had about 250 people, but on seeing my walking cane, he offered that I got straight in and take a seat instead. Much as I do use a walking cane, I do not consider myself having accessibility problems, and I do need the cane most of the time as I have used one for over 19 years.

I did remonstrate, but he insisted, so I had a chat with the men I left in the queue and went into the temporary premises to take a seat. Soon, I was offered forms to fill in and I found myself meeting much more than the minimum criteria, I was ticking 3 boxes of medical establishments where I got my care amongst other things. I point I made earlier stands; the communication was poorly written.

Having filled in the form, my answers were verified in a caller-response engagement and then I was given the Monkeypox vaccine. All done and out by 9:27 AM. The weather was looking better, and the men felt they did not need the umbrellas, gave them back and I walked back home.

Just allaying our concerns

Apart from a little soreness in the arm and maybe an incidence of the runs over 2 or so days, I am fine. Indeed, Monkeypox was a bit of a concern and that coming still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic did not make for comfortable reading. The fact that the most affected demographic in Europe and over in the United States are gay men, exacerbated concerns. The supplies were usually exhausted before everyone in the queue was served apart from the last time.

I guess in all we were trying to avoid a situation where this advent of another communicable disease leads to labelling and stigmatisation. It just happens that the community and social constructs of the gay persona might well expose one to this situation more than in other settings.

Taking precautions and preventative measures are the options we have availed ourselves of. Then again, the other part of this narrative is how my desire to be of a little help offered the consideration by reason of my slight handicap to be seen earlier than would have been the case.

Then to the vulnerable, all preventative protections matter, be they vaccines or any other medical advice proffered that would give us a fighting chance against infection or disease. Some do suggest there is no need for another booster, I think I keep myself informed enough to know that when my doctor or consultant does suggest some precautions, that is most likely in my best interests.

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