by Karen Loh
As with most people, my husband and I contemplated taking the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine when it was announced that it would be available to anyone on a volunteer basis. After talking to a few friends in the UK and France who had already taken the AZ vaccine, we decided to register. Yes, we read about the risks of blood clots, etc. but trusted the scientific reports that the benefits far outweighed the risks. I think I must have been one of the first batches of volunteers who registered as I was given the 3pm time slot on the first day of vaccination at Universiti Malaya (UM) on 5 May.
Before I knew it, it was the 5th of May and it was time to take the vaccine. Using Waze, I arrived at Bangunan Peperiksaan, UM around 2:45pm. For those who are also going to UM, there is plenty of parking available on its premises. The many signage placed around the premise were also helpful. From the entrance of the building, volunteers/staff were stationed at various stops to assist. The process went something like this:
First stop, scan MySejahtera app with my phone.
Show the person at the counter/desk my appointment slot. Only those who have an appointment that day will be allowed to enter the hall (If you have the same date with a family member, I read that you can go together irrespective of your different time slots. Just choose one of your appointment times).
Temperature taken and a numbered card was given.
Take a seat and wait to be called.
The following stop was to confirm my identity. I was asked to scan the QR code with my MySejahtera app and produce my MyKad (or passport for expats). A few general Covid questions were asked – whether I had been in close contact with a Covid patient, been out of the country, where I worked. Two health consent forms were then given; these were to be filled out and signed later at the next stop (you can fill up the forms first and leave signature part for later as it has to be signed in front of the doctor).
The next stop is a quick consultation with a doctor. The doctor asked me whether I had any allergies, pre-existing health conditions, whether I was on any medication and then proceeded to brief me on the side effects of the vaccine. The most common side effects include a sore arm where the shot was administered, slight fever, mild headache, fatigue, muscle pain and nausea. She also warned that if any of these symptoms became severe and if rash appeared, to go to the nearest hospital or report the symptoms on MySejahtera. Fortunately, other than a headache I experienced the next day, my side effects were minimal. I was advised to take paracetamol for my headache.
Taking the AstraZeneca vaccine! As soon as the consent forms were signed (the doctor takes one form while I was given the other), I was ushered to a booth for the shot. I was instructed to place my left hand over my right arm, take a deep breath and then it was done. There was no pain at all, just a pinprick feeling over within seconds.
After the shot, I was asked to proceed to the waiting area for observation. The observation period is usually 15 minutes. After the wait, I had to scan MySejahtera app again to update my vaccination report, which has the vaccination date, vaccine number and batch number. A vaccination card was also issued and I was informed that that the second dose would be given after 12 weeks and the date confirmed later.
In conclusion, the AZ vaccination process was quick and efficient. It took less than one hour from Step 1 to the time I took this photo!