It started with some friendly breakfast TV banter.Norman Swan was on for his regular spot when, as has often been the case in recent months, the conversation turned to the vaccine rollout.I mentioned I had happily booked my first AstraZeneca shot now the program was open to over-50s.Norman said he happened to be travelling to Melbourne the next day and, instead of a coffee date, we should get vaccinated together.”Sure,” I said, thinking he was probably in such high demand the idea wouldn't go anywhere.As soon as he was out of the studio, Norman was enthusiastically texting about making arrangements, and some on-air spitballing quickly became reality.An absurdly straightforward process The queue moves quickly to get into the centre.(ABC News: Ryan Smith)We met the next morning outside the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, one of the city's mass vaccination hubs.At the risk of inflaming Sydney-Melbourne rivalries, this is something my Sydney colleague can't yet do.Sydney's first vaccination hub, at Olympic Park in Homebush, doesn't open until next week.Until then, people have to rely on their GPs and small medical clinics to get their shots. People wait in physically distanced chairs for their turn in the vaccination booth.(ABC News: Ryan Smith)It was a beautiful autumn day.Norman surveyed the scene and I am sure I detected a look of envy.It was quite a liberating day for both of us, particularly for Norman, who has spent all of his working hours over the past year helping explain the pandemic and the various vaccines to an anxious public.He has been a valuable source of advice and comfort for audiences across a range of ABC programs, and those who've subscribed to the wildly popular Coronacast podcast.Can I wait for Pfizer? Vaccine questions answeredAs more Australians become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations we put your questions to the senior medical adviser for the Victorian vaccine rollout.Read moreThe selfie requests in the time I was with him bear this out.I asked Norman how he felt as we walked through the Convention Centre's doors.”Look, I'm excited to get it, actually. I just want that security of protection. And we've all got to get in there and do it,” he said.”It's playing your part, it helps yourself, it helps your family and the evidence is that it reduces infection rates, so it's going to reduce infection in the community.”Once inside, the process was almost absurdly straightforward. After giving their details, including their Medicare number, the pair were reminded they were getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.(ABC News: Ryan Smith)The mid-morning queues weren't that long, so people were ushered into the vaccination booths at a steady clip. You can either make a booking, or just turn up.The first step was registering our names and Medicare details with health officials, who asked the standard questions about whether you're feeling well.They reminded us that, as over 50s, it is the AstraZeneca vaccine we are receiving. No problem at all.Over in seconds The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination is now available to anyone over the age of 50.(ABC News: Ryan Smith)Then it was into another queue for a turn with a vaccination nurse.I landed with Chris, who works for the Royal Melbourne Hospital and was thrilled to be playing her part in the vaccination effort.In fact, all of the medical professionals I came across were delightful and fully committed to this massive public health project. Vaccine nurse Chris talks Michael Rowland through the process of receiving his shot.(ABC News: Ryan Smith)Chris asked detailed questions about my medical history, including whether I have suffered blood clots, and, importantly, how I go with needles.After all the build-up, the actual vaccination was a bit of an anticlimax. It was over in seconds. The discussions with the nurse take longer than the process of receiving the shot itself.(ABC News: Ryan Smith)Chris set about explaining some of the possible side effects.These include pain in the injection arm, tiredness, headaches as well as fever and chills.These normally don't appear until a day after the vaccination. The side effects are usually mild and disappear within one or two days. The nurse asks questions to ensure Dr Swan is medically suited to receiving the shot.(ABC News: Ryan Smith)Read more about Australia's vaccine rollout:How serious are the risks of blood clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine?Why is the Astrazeneca vaccine approved for over 50s?A very rare and more serious side effect is blood clotting, with symptoms mostly starting between four and 20 days after the vaccination.As a precaution, everyone had to wait on site for 15 minutes after their dose, and there was a general mood of optimism and determination among those proudly waving their vaccination certificates.A random opinion poll produced some common answers:”I actually think it's important for the community. I think it's necessary for all of us to do it.””I think we all need to get vaccinated. We all need to do the right thing and together we can beat this pandemic.””The sooner we can get through this the better and things can get back to normal and start travelling again. I am sick of it, really, so let's get the ball rolling.”To be honest, I'm pretty sick of it too. It is only through all of us playing our small role in getting vaccinated that we can regain some of the pleasures that we lost once the pandemic struck.Hopefully the small amount of “vaccine hesitancy” will dissipate further once the rollout picks up speed, as it is now showing signs of doing.And if it takes Dr Norman Swan to accompany you personally to your vaccination appointment, I have his number.What you need to know about coronavirus:The symptomsThe number of cases in AustraliaTracking Australia's vaccine rolloutGlobal cases, deaths and testing ratesPosted YesterdayWedWednesday 5 MayMay 2021 at 6:51pm, updated YesterdayWedWednesday 5 MayMay 2021 at 11:03pmShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsAppRelated StoriesBrett Sutton gets his first COVID jab as mass vaccination centres open across VictoriaBrenda was in tears as she got her COVID vaccine as hubs open to all Australians over 50More on:MelbourneHealthCOVID-19Vaccines and Immunity
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