Home News Macfilos gets the Covid vaccine: Jabbing on an industrial scale in one...

Macfilos gets the Covid vaccine: Jabbing on an industrial scale in one small corner of London

Is Mr Macfilos here? An efficiently organised, socially distanced queue and a prompt on-the-dot vaccination

Your editor has been vaccinated against Covid. Early this morning the receptionist at my local surgery called. Could I be at the health centre at noon today to get my Covid jab? Too right, I could. I suspect I got a cancelled appointment, but this didn’t diminish the excitement after all the miseries of 2020. Perhaps a new dawn has broken.

Not knowing quite what to expect, at 11.30 I joined a suspiciously short queue on the ramp leading up to the medical centre. A mobile receptionist worked the line of patients, checking on allergies and handing out authorisation forms.

At 11.55, I was called in and asked to sit down for a minute before being shown to a tiny cubicle. The whole place was crammed with these makeshift partitioned areas—dozens and dozens of ’em. Dead on noon, a nurse came and stuck the needle in my arm. I was then told to sit there for 15 minutes in case of adverse reactions. One couldn’t expect more efficiency. All free, of course.

Industrial scale operation: Dozens of dozens of tiny cubicles with a vaccination trolley doing the rounds.
Industrial scale operation: Dozens of dozens of tiny cubicles with a vaccination trolley doing the rounds.

I have evidence all around me that the UK vaccine programme is roaring ahead. I now know a dozen people—mostly older or those working on the front line—who have already been vaccinated. That’s quite something, well away from newspaper estimates and hearsay.

Tangible proof

When you have tangible proof, you know it’s going well. Currently, the Government aims to vaccinate 14 million of the most vulnerable and older people by the first week of February. From what I’ve seen, they are doing well. My own experience does not bear out the many scare stories in the press about over-optimism. After all, I’m in the third phase, not the highest priority.

Over the past year, there has been criticism of the National Health Service for postponing care for serious illnesses other than Covid. On the other hand, the NHS has developed a cult following in certain quarters. If ever a health service could walk on water, then this is it, they boast.

While I am committed to free universal health care (I have never known anything else), I am not a huge fan of the monolithic state operation that is the NHS. An insurance-based universal health care system, such as those in Germany and Australia, can be more efficient and effective. Above all, such systems offer more patient choice, to decide when and where they are treated. This is not always the case with the NHS, although some friends do feel they have had good opportunities to decide where to receive treatment.

Is Mr Macfilos here? An efficiently organised, socially distanced queue and a prompt on-the-dot vaccination
Is Mr Macfilos here? An efficiently organised, socially distanced queue and a prompt on-the-dot vaccination

On the plus side, the NHS is a shining example of no-questions-asked care. Turn up with an emergency, and you will be treated, even if you have to wait several hours after triage. There are no questions, no forms to complete, no question of insurance claims and certainly no possibility of rejection on financial grounds.

After 75 years of free healthcare in this country, some people take treatment for granted and give no thought to what it costs (it’s a lot, as readers in the USA will confirm).

Patients have livers transplanted and hearts fettled yet have not the foggiest idea of the cost (a thousand, two thousand, perhaps, but certainly not the hundred thousand of the real bill).

Free care is just expected and is given. However, while there is some abuse of the system (such as a huge number of no-shows for doctor appointments and evidence of health tourism), the principle is there: Free at the point of sale…


The certificate: Officially jabbed

All that said, the National Health Service has risen to the Covid challenge with professionalism and dedication. I have now seen the coalface with my own eyes. The vaccine programme is in top gear. Roll out of the Pfizer vaccine began a month ago, and the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine came online this week.

The British Government, too, deserves praise for how it procured a couple of hundred million doses of a wide variety of vaccines when other countries were dragging their heels.

As a result, there is no shortage; there will be enough to vaccinate the entire population, although logistics alone means that it could take up to a year. The interim target is to vaccinate three million a week, achieving a total of 14 million people in the next month (I think we have already topped two million since December 8). That will cover up to 20% of the population, and it’s a great start. From what I’ve seen today in one small corner of London, the mountain begins to look scalable.

Today was an eye-opener for me and I am beginning to think that we can beat this awful virus in time. We’re taking the first steps, but the signs are positive.


  1. Smooth move, just sorting out here when I going to go and where. Think we all need vaccine but you can’t push people who don’t want. The good news is if you see Pink Elephants, you can blame it on side effect.

  2. Congratulations. And thank you for being a commentator that is more positive about the efforts going on to try and get this to the people.

    • Perversely, there are many people in this country who think of the fight against Covid in political terms. They almost want the best efforts to fail in order to make a political point. Even the newspapers are quick to highlight the negative and slow to mention the positive. So I hope I’ve helped put the true picture forward.

    • It seems odd to write an article about getting a vaccination. But this seemed such a remarkable occasion after a whole year of worry. It was actually an exciting morning, which is more than I can say about the annual flu jab. Is the vaccination now rolling out in France in the same way?

      • Vaccination is really at snail pace here. Iguess my wife and I will have to wait till late spring before we get the vaccine.

        • That sounds bad, although you are in a younger age group and probably wouldn’t get the vaccine until spring even here in the UK. I think you would be in the fifth or sixth phase if you lived in this country.

  3. This is good news Mike, you must have felt a bit relieved with the vaccine. I for one cannot wait to get one so I can travel to Mumbai to see my old parents. It has been more than a year that I have seen them. Luckily, they don’t have health complications and one of my sisters lives in the same city.
    I am ‘only’ 47 so my time for vaccine won’t come until summer I suppose.

    • Well I think they are making a lot of progress. I see today they have 157 million doses in the way, including the Moderna which has been approved this morning. That’s 314m individual injections for a population of 68m. The only possible delay will come from logistics of getting enough people to administer the jab and I think the government is determined not to let that delay things.

  4. Great news, glad you’re done. But ‘ other countries ‘dragging heels’ is a tad unfair. UK, EU, and the wealthier countries were able to place advanced orders on several vaccines because they had the money to do so, and hedged their bets. Poorer countries obviously cannot afford to do that, and have to wait until they are approved (or for WHO’s coax facility to kick in) until they can start to buy. But now they’re faced not just with the lack of funds but also with a big shortage of supply. Some countries are hoping to receive enough to vaccinate 20% of its population this year. The UK doesn’t have that problem – it already has the supply to vaccinate its entire population twice over…

    • I wasn’t thinking of poorer countries. I agree with you in the unfairness there. I was thinking nearer home, to our neighbours in The EU. Something has gone wrong there and I know from the German press that the government has come in for a lot of criticism.

      In a wider front, this disease won’t go away until vaccines are widespread in all countries, especially the poorer ones. So it makes sense for aid to be directed towards buying vaccines. There is also a vast difference in price between the various vaccines. The Oxford/AZ version has been created for sale at a reasonable price, around £3.50 for a course of treatment, as I understand. This should go a long way to getting the vaccine to poorer countries sooner.

  5. Absolutely agree UK government needs to be given credit for sourcing adequate supplies of vaccines from numerous different suppliers, which has given us good degree of resilience in vaccination program. I know loads of people who have already been jabbed. Well done to those who took the decision to back vaccine producers early and lock in supplies.

  6. OK, truth sets people free. I live in Dallas, TX. Texans are not known for being OVERLY humble. But here are the facts for me. I’m over 65 and have four health conditions that place me in tier 2 for receiving the vaccination. I’ll only mention one here, I had a heart attack a year ago and received a stent, I believe it was in my LAD (Left Anterior Descending) coronary artery. The good news is, with medication I feel back to normal and have intentionally lost 60 pounds since the heart attack. With insurance based healthcare, my procedure cost was under $1,000 for this multi tens of thousands of dollars procedure. But of course, there is the monthly cost for insurance, just as there is the tax expense for your healthcare. Also, when my daughter lived in Egham, I visited her family from the U.S. We decided to go to London to see the Queen at Westminster when she celebrated her anniversary. While watching from outside, my daughter slipped on the wet grass and when she tried to block her fall, dislocated her elbow. When the ambulance came, the vehicle carrying William and Harry had to be moved so it could get to us, and rightly so I say. 🙂 Priorities. The emergency room at St. Thomas’ Hospital did an excellent job of fixing her elbow, and since she lived in Egham, as far as I know, it was all “free”. Now, to get back to the point. I have not yet been offered the vaccination. I will gladly get it when I am. I have relatives who work in the medical industry, and know of other medical workers, who have received the vaccine. Also, my wife’s mother who is in a nursing home received her first dose of vaccine Tuesday of this week. Those people are all in tier 1. So far, I haven’t heard of anyone in tier 2 receiving the vaccine or even being contacted about receiving it. So, at this point, I’ll have to say that the NHS is beating us in the race to get everyone vaccinated. Let’s pray for everyone to get it soon.

  7. Great news – my father was done on Friday (at Beverley racecourse), my wife on New Years Eve (acute medic – big hospital sometimes in the background of your photos).

    Keep well.


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