One small pin prick in the left arm and not only do I feel a lot safer but the world is actually a safer place. That is the marvellous thing about having your COVID-19 vaccine shot as I did this morning in Hong Kong. You are protecting yourself but also helping to prevent others from catching the disease. Personal and social responsibility all encapsulated in one momentary jab. Fantastic.
I had my first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre, with the second to follow in three weeks. As a confirmed trypanophobic (someone who fears needles), I have never looked forward to nor enjoyed an injection (yes, it’s true) so much in my life. Heck, I can’t wait to get back to the place 21 days hence.
There is something oddly moving about attending a vaccine centre. It is such a fantastic human achievement to consider that we are receiving treatments of proven efficacy just 14 months on from the world even becoming aware of a potentially fatal coronavirus.
There’s a dignity about the procedure and about the people – from the marvellously courteous and efficient administrative and medical staff (they even give away a free pack of masks to each patient) to all those waiting stoically in line for their treatment (or sitting quietly in the post-jab ‘resting zone’).
I was reminded of a LinkedIn post by Martin Smith, Chairman and Founder of Security Awareness Special Interest Group in the UK, who wrote of his experience when he and his wife passed the Whitby COVID-19 vaccination centre in Yorkshire, England. “For a while we watched the steady stream of white-haired septua- and octogenarians come and go. All was calm. All was polite. Smiles and walking sticks were everywhere. The orderly elderly. It was all so – um, well – British.
“We’re renowned as a race for our ability to queue. It struck me that we’re all now in the biggest queue ever, some 66 million people long. And of course, we’re following the rules – trust the system; wait your turn; turn up when it’s your time; don’t jump the queue; go home afterwards and stay there till the others have had their turns too.
“All of us will get our jabs soon enough. The end of the beginning is in sight. We can all now look forward to a reborn albeit still careful summer when we can once again be with our precious families and friends. But let us never forget those whom we’ve lost.”
Beautifully put. For all of us in travel retail, too, the end of the beginning is in sight. We too can look forward to a reborn, albeit metaphorical summer. It may be delayed (coronavirus rather than global warming the cause) but come it most surely will.
And those whom we’ve lost? Too many. A good friend in the industry watched his father succumb to the disease this month. Diagnosed on 18 February, dead by 6 March. Let us all get vaccinated as fast as we can in a sign of respect to those who never got the chance before COVID got them and as a statement of responsibility and concern towards others. If we don’t make vaccination a priority, who will?
Our sector is, often literally, in the frontline of the travel industry. We need to stand up and declare, “Travel Retail Safe – I’ve been vaccinated.” In precisely 21 days, I plan to say exactly that.