assent without information?

It must have come up at school when I was 12 or 14, so that I came home and asked my mother what class

we were.   “Educated” she said over her busy hands “and there aren’t enough of us.”    My parents believed in education – the getting of knowledge and even wisdom rather than passing exams – they thought it was the most important thing and when one of the recent incumbents in charge of education was heard to mouth some inanity,  I muttered aloud to my long dead parents “ I am glad you are not here to hear this” ..and switched off.      

I really do not spend my life looking back but sometimes you have to look back in order to move forward.  I was taught to ask questions.  

Which is how I came to be on the telephone to my GPs surgery, which was busy from opening time onwards.   I was told they don’t do the booster shot and could only refer me over some distance.  Why, when we have an NHS Covid clinic next door but two to them ?  When I asked at that clinic why Pfizer only, the staff on the door were polite but they couldn’t answer.  The knowledgeable pharmacist who has let his premises for the purpose gave me lots of “don’t fuss” but no answers. 

The letter from the NHS is says do have the booster but don’t come forward unless you are frontline medical staff or have a pre existing medical condition.  Call this number ….  The related website says the same thing. 

I take no medicines except my eye drops.  I want to be sensible and I want to co operate

but unless I lie, I can’t see a doctor.  And there is no guarantee that the doctor will know what he or she is talking about.  One of the main reasons for seeing him/her (information and reassurance) is now out of the window.  This is the sharp end of the shortage of GPs and the terrifying over expectation of modern medicine at the cost of “doctoring”.    

As expected, the walk-in clinic which was converted to the site of my first two vaccinations is no more.  If you can roll it out, you can roll it up.  It is a now a GP practice – all that space and light and heat !  Notices demand  “Are you registered to this practice ?  If not, call this number … “ I felt exposed.  I had a decision to make, I was not sure how to make it. 

No wonder people queue for hours at A&E.   You may wait, but you do see a human.

A practical woman friend, to whom I had communicated my anxiety,  tried to reassure me and inadvertently, she offered me the clarity I sought. Her son in law is a cancer specialist, presumably  familiar with the structure of vaccines, and he had said to her and her husband “Just get it.”  Well, each to his own

and you have to trust somebody.     

So back I went to the clinic on the corner to enquire how to go about it, where they had a gap and swept me and my shopping downstairs, to where five of us waited, ushered in and out by Ian (“I’m 83 and at least I feel I am doing something for my country”).  A nurse called Amy took all the usual details and asked questions about allergy, anaphylactic shock, spoke sensibly about the mixture of vaccines, side effects, how it might affect me, “which arm ?” And it was done. 

I came home to feel a couple of degrees under, keep warm, doze and generally behave like an old lady.   Fingers crossed, that will be it – but the questions still remain.   You can see why people don’t like being told “just say yes”.  They want to know what they are saying yes to.   You can sense the confusion between the staff giving out the injections and the staff trying to handle everything else-  there is another world of health needs alongside the Covid world.  I grew up with elderly people saying to each other and us “Keep well.  Don’t get sick.”  And now I am one of them, for similar reasons: I don’t know who to ask or what information is reliable.


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