There was a buzz of excitement on a recent Monday morning, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the high wind and snow accumulation warning that we all faced as we rose that morning.
Such weather advisories are common in this part of the country and therefore this one did not gain much traction, other than the hope that the wind wouldn’t damage local properties. Whatever snow showed up would melt in a day or two as March moved into April.
No, the excitement that morning was related to an entirely different matter — there was laughter behind the masks and of course there was social distancing as local residents waited for their turn to answer “No” to all the safety questions being asked at the COVID vaccination centre on the Moose Jaw Exhibition Grounds.
This was my second visit to the centre in less than 10 days. My first time was as a companion/assistant to a family member who was eligible for the vaccination several days before my age group was allowed to register for the shot. That’s not to say she was “older” but simply that her age group came before mine on the roll out of the vaccine.
On that first occasion we were greeted by cordial attendants who took our temperatures and asked all the necessary questions to ensure she/we met the criteria to be in the lineup near other folks. I was assured I was more than welcome to join my companion as she rolled up her sleeve for the vaccine.
The needle part of the process was over quickly and we meandered over to the waiting area for the required 15 minutes, a waiting time to ensure the vaccine recipients didn’t develop unusual reactions.
One gentleman looked at me with a question in his eye, and I knew he was thinking: “I didn’t know she was that old!” I smiled at the thought I knew he was having at my expense.
There was laughter and conversation throughout the whole process and we happily made our way back to the parking area where the security person was greeting newcomers with enthusiasm and making sure they lined up correctly, had their masks on, and weren’t trying to squirrel their way in without an appointment.
Then the day came for my turn. Of course there would be a snow and wind advisory for that day, but with a morning appointment scheduled, I figured I would miss the worst of the predicted storm. I had an extra coat, my winter boots, a snack and my gloves in the car — just in case I night be stranded between home and vaccine.
The parking lot area was congested, much like a grocery store lot, but no one was glaring or backing out without shoulder checking. And one driver still smiled and appeared patient when the couple with walkers apparently didn’t see the backup lights and wandered in the path of the moving vehicle.
I gave negative replies to all the questions, presented by forehead for a temperature reading and was directed to Table No. 5 where I settled into the seat, exposed my winter-white arm and looked away as the needle approached. I felt absolutely nothing and was surprised when the prick point didn’t bleed and I didn’t require one of those round bandaids. Then it was off to the sitting area and then out the exit door.
While heading home and thinking about the experience, I had to agree with the friend who several days earlier made the effort to tell me how efficient he found the vaccine process. He hoped I would perhaps write something about how pleased he and his spouse were with their treatment.
I had also heard similar comments about the testing centre procedure in another building across the roadway. The consensus is that the Moose Jaw experience was much better than some they had seen elsewhere on the television news.
It is comforting to know that even in these extreme times, people are taking the time to be thankful for the pleasant manner by which all are greeted. Whoever would have thought a year ago that we would be celebrating and smiling after a shot in the arm?
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.