If nothing else, this stage of the pandemic has given us something new to talk about: vaccinations. It’s a germane icebreaker for starting meetings: “Have you been vaccinated?” “When are you scheduled?” and “Which brand are you getting?” And dare I say, it’s made armchair experts of us all: “I’m going to wait for Sinovac,” “Moderna is too aggressive” and “I heard so-and-so died after taking a second dose of X–!” Which, I suppose, is a step better than talk of homegrown cures like steaming or — heaven forbid! — bleach.

Myself, I had my first jab yesterday, and to answer your burning question, it was Astra-Zeneca, the one allegedly responsible for deaths due to clotting. It’s only been twelve hours as I write this, so who knows? Right now, I feel a little stiffness in my left arm and shoulder, which they told us during orientation was to be expected. Other side-effects they warned us about were fever, chills, and joint pains, none of which have manifested for me, thankfully. But it’s only been twelve hours, so who knows?

It was two, maybe three, weeks of waiting since they first rolled it out in Davao. I had myself listed at our health center months ago, and I did occasionally call one of those numbers from the city government’s social media account, but that all seemed to have gotten lost in limbo. My parents got their shots last week because they fell in the A2 senior citizen category. My own notice came from a friend who said that they were finally accepting A3 with-comorbidities at the mall — as in right now!

So off to the mall I went and luckily for me the lines weren’t long at 11am. Seniors still made up the bulk of the supplicants but there was a smattering of younger people as well. Then followed a lot of waiting as they marshalled us through the different stages. Registration to get your details, signing consent, the orientation on what to expect, medical history, the jab itself — finally! — and a 15-minute observation for side-effects. All in all, four to five hours, which seems to be par for the course for Davao. At least I was in an air-conditioned mall with access to snack bars and a bookstore. The poor fellows who had to wait in public schools and hospitals!

My next dose is in 4 to 12 weeks, so they said. They gave me a card to present when they call (I hope they call, because the woman at the orientation said to also keep our own lookout in case they didn’t). Will this keep me from catching the Covid-19? Apparently not, it will just keep me safe from the virus’ serious effects like, you know, dying. I would still have to take the usual precautions like masks and extreme hygiene to protect just not myself but the people around me.

After all that, what did the vaccination get me? A little less uncertainty and some measure of mental security. A nice little vaccination card that I can eventually show off. And something new to talk about.