Like many people, I usually get cold sweat if I have to go to a government hospital for a service. I am used to seeing mismanagement, dirty environments and rude behaviour. There will be an unmanageable crowd. There will be VIPs taking special favours by keeping me and others waiting in the endless queues. And often I would feel lost.
But that's not the case with the government's vaccination programme this time. What I experienced while getting my Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday immensely impressed me – because I am not used to having such a neat and nice experience.
I took my first vaccine shot at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College and Hospital (BSMMU) Covid-19 vaccination facility at the Sheraton crossing.
It started like this: I enrolled myself for the shot on 2 February online and promptly got a message on my phone confirming my registration. On 10 February, I received another message about my vaccination schedule for 11 February.
When I went there along with my colleagues, I was mentally prepared to wait for maybe an hour or two and come across a sea of crowds. But it was nothing like that. The newly constructed building is spacious, neat and clean. The doormen asked for my registration printout and the SMS of my vaccination schedule. They were making sure that people at random were not walking into this compound.
Upon entry into the building, we came across the helpdesk that really helps. They gave us a slip with a vaccination booth number and told us to wait in a pleasant and spacious waiting area.
"How may I help you?" a young man asked us. He is one of the 4,200 volunteers of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. We followed him and entered the main vaccination area. We crossed several booths where other people were taking vaccines and came to ours.
The booth had two nurses administering the vaccine doses and two persons to check and fill in the registration forms. I was asked to sign for my consent and write my phone number on a part of the form that they kept. On my registration form they noted down today's date and the next date for vaccination and what vaccine I was getting today – which is Covishield, made by the Serum Institute of India.
Then I went to the nurses who were dealing with another person. "Don't look," she told the man while holding the injection syringe. The man however kept looking at the injection as she administered it on his upper arm. Much to my surprise, the needle went all in into his upper muscle. He did not make any sound – but I realised why the nurse told him not to look.
I am not afraid of injections. But it made me slightly uncomfortable as I have never seen an injection needle going all inside the flesh in real life.
Next it was me. The nurse cautioned me too not to look and said, "Keep your muscles relaxed!"
Here it goes. I thought it might hurt. It did not. The nurse was quick in doing the job which would have been impossible for me to administer. I was done in seconds. I was then asked to take a rest for half an hour.
But we were all done in less than 10 minutes. So we got out of the compound, amazed by how organised and well administered it was.
I checked out with my colleagues: What about the other facilities in Dhaka?
Those who went to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for the vaccine also shared the same satisfaction. It was awesome! And the same goes to most of the 46 vaccination hospitals and health facilities in the city.
This experience goes to show that when the government puts its mind and efforts into something, it can be awesome.