Getting my vacciation at the Brighton Centre – what it’s like: One Thing or a Mother

The last time I visited the Brighton Centre was in February, 2020.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 2:49 pm

Covid was on the horizon, but I was still able to sit in the arena, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other people, to see The Script play live. But it was for a very different reason that I returned there on Tuesday morning.

My number had been called (well, I’d finally found myself old enough to book) and it was time to ‘come on down’ to get my first Covid vaccination. (Not sure why I used that reference. I might be old enough to get my vaccine, but I’m not really Price-is-Right old. No offence to anybody who was a fan!)

My booking was 10.30am. I arrived, parked in the Churchill 1 car park, where I knew you could get one hour’s free parking if you were getting your vaccine (which, when the cheapest bracket of ‘up to two hours’ is £4.50, I was very grateful for) and I joined a short queue to enter the centre.

Even grown-ups get a sticker. Hooray!

Once inside, you have to go through several checkpoints, where your booking reference is taken, it will be clarified you don’t have covid symptoms and your personal information will be checked.

But if this sounds onerous, that’s not my intention, because the process was absolutely seamless from the moment I walked inside.

There are distancing markings everywhere, you’re guided wherever you need to go by a universally friendly team of staff, and I was back out on the street (in a non-Julia Roberts sense) by 11am.

This included the 15-minute post-jab waiting time, just to make sure you don’t have any immediate ill-effects. (I used this time to play ‘are these people also 38 and 39?’ A game of my own invention, which didn’t really have any conclusion, as I couldn’t exactly just start asking people for their date of births without coming across as completely crazy.)

Do a silly thumbs-up if you got your vaccine

There was even time to take a cheesy thumbs-up picture on the seafront afterwards to make my family laugh before my parking ticket ran out.

I couldn’t have been more impressed at the slick operation they’ve got going on there. It probably sounds silly, but walking up and down the queue lines, waiting for my turn, I felt a bit emotional.

Six months ago, not a single person in this country had received a vaccine. And now, on a daily basis, we’re vaccinating people in centres like this, up and down the country, plus at GP practices, in huge, huge numbers. I knew the vaccine rollout was going well, and was possibly one of our country’s greatest ever achievements, but seeing it in action was amazing.

My vaccinator (not to be confused with the Terminator – they are definitely very different things) was a complete ray of sunshine.

Despite doing around 70 jabs a day (or potentially more, he said he didn’t bother to count), he was so cheery, and put me at ease. It could have felt like I was just another part of a never-ending production line, but he still found time to chat.

And while the jab itself is over in seconds, it wasn’t lost on me that this was my big moment. A massive step for me, my family, but also society generally as here I was, doing my bit, so that eventually, hopefully, we can all get back to normal.

The next time I visit the Brighton Centre will be in August, for my second dose of the Moderna vaccine. But here’s hoping with the vaccination programme seemingly moving at such a rapid speed now, that visits after that are for something a bit more run-of-the-mill for the venue.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting here, sore arm notwithstanding, marvelling at just how far we’ve come in a year.