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My vaccine experience - I thought Pfizer would be cold but it wasn't!

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

An inspirational video above of Dame Sarah Gilbert receiving a standing ovation. Sarah and her team developed the Oxford vaccine.

I am writing this on Sunday, the 25 July, and I have just returned from receiving my first Pfizer vaccine at 8.53 am. I made the decision a couple of weeks ago. The appointment at the Melbourne Convention Centre was booked at 9.09 am on 24 July, less than 24 hours earlier. I had found a couple of slots in the last fortnight; however, they were inconvenient. If you are eligible and in Melbourne, you will probably find a slot at short notice if you take some time to hunt around.

Here are a couple of links -

  • An article in simple language from Yale Medical about the different types of vaccines. I choose Pfizer because of the technology and it is approved for US travel; AstraZeneca isn’t at the moment

  • ABC has published a very useful 9 min “explainer” video; “If you’re vaccinated against COVID-19, how protected are you from catching the virus? Watch it here

  • Those in Victoria can visit the Victorian Government website and look for appointments at various locations. You will need to register there; every time you sign in, there is a two-factor authentication process that is very easy.

A rundown of the morning’s events –

  • I collected my regular coffee at 7.30 am. The road was empty as Melbourne remains in lockdown, and the drive to the city was swift

  • Being a Sunday, it was easy to park out on the street. After my vaccine, I was offered a ticket to exit the MCC at no cost. I wasn’t aware of this earlier, worth knowing if you decide to go there

  • Outside the MCC, I checked into the Royal Melbourne Hospital App via a QR code and was asked a series of COVID symptoms, hotspot, and travel-related type questions

  • There were two lines for AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the latter being longer; groups of ten were admitted into the building. I was asked to check in again via a different QR code for the MCC. My freshly washed, trusty black face mask, was replaced with a surgical one as per vaccine protocols

  • I entered another room with a long check-in desk where I provided my photo id and medicare card, placing these on a square that was cleaned after every visitor. A male concierge with sky-blue painted nails checked my details within the booking system. Upon confirmation, I was ushered to a makeshift cubicle area (picture below) and met Mesa, my nurse. There are ushers everywhere, all very friendly

  • Mesa checked my details; I showed her my Medicare card and read out the number, and Mesa asked some sensible medical history questions. We also had a brief social chat. Since March, Mesa has been working at the centre and administers 75 doses a day (what a legend); she greatly enjoys meeting everyone

  • Mesa showed me the Pfizer vile and enquired about what I do while injecting me! I explained I like to write and would be doing a blog about my experience. (Hi Mesa, if you are reading)

  • As Pfizer must be refrigerated, I thought it would be cold, it wasn’t, and it felt warm. I was then ushered to a waiting area to sit for 15 minutes with many others. I left the building at 9.08 am and was home around 9.45 am. When I arrived home, I booked my follow-up shot at Sandown in Springvale that showed availability. I suspect this was now available as it is to be my second dose.

Here is some helpful information I was provided about how Pfizer works –

“Today you have received the Comirnaty (Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd) vaccine. This vaccine can prevent people from becoming ill from COVID-19. Comirnaty does not contain any live virus, and it cannot give you COVID-19. It contains the genetic code for an important part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein. After getting the vaccine, your body makes copies of the spike protein. Your immune system will then learn to recognise and fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The genetic code is broken down quickly by the body.”

Beyond a sore arm for half a day and some lethargy on Monday, I have had no other reactions!

Stay safe.


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