On April 1, 2021 the Indian government announced that anyone above the age of 45 could get the vaccine without having to show any pre-existing conditions. That opened up the door for me and I jumped on it. I had been hearing about the process from others and really thought it was completely computerized and seamless – but, that’s not the case.
Before I get to the process I thought it might be nice to discuss the actual vaccine variant I received, Covishield from Serum Institute of India (SII) in partnership with Oxford and AstraZeneca.
First question is why are there 3 entities involved in this particular vaccine? To explain each player, I’ll use an example that everyone is familiar with Uber, Apple and Foxconn (aka Hon Hai Precision Industry Co).
Apple is the main company that everyone knows and has built a fantastic phone platform, that is similar to AstraZeneca which is a pharma company. Uber is a product that was created by them and distributed on Apple’s platform. Similar, Oxford has done the research and come up with a vaccine that works and distributed via AstraZeneca’s distribution chain. If you are not aware, Apple does not manufacture any of their products they outsource it to companies like Foxconn. In this case, AstraZeneca has outsourced the manufacturing of the vaccine to many pharma contract manufactures and one of the biggest is Serum Institute of India.
SII is run by Cyrus and Adar Poonawalla and they are known for 3 things: Formulations, Fillies and Ferraris.
If you are still debating whether to get the vaccine, I suggest you watch the following Vox video on vaccines and efficacy rates. I thought I was pretty well informed on this vaccine but I was wrong. As people get vaccinated there are still 2 unknowns: 1. How long the immunity lasts 2. Does the vaccine cover the newly emerging variants. Only time will tell, this is a work in progress and the whole world is one big testing environment.
Now, let’s get to the journey of me getting my first jab of Covishield.
Step 1 – Register
The first thing you have to do is register on the Co-WIN website, this is already looking good. All digital experience. Once you register yourself then you pick a time slot that works for you. Once selected, you get an SMS confirming the time slot.
Step 2 – Visit the Center
We arrived at the center and luckily it was a Sunday, so we got parking and we were able to reach the main counter in minutes.
Step 3 – Fill Out a Form
At the main counter, they hand us a form to fill out. So much for contactless. We had our Aadhaar card which actually has a QR code and I thought they would scan the QR code and grab all the data they needed. Nope.
I will never understand this countries obsession with printed documents in the age of computers and technology. When the guy handed me the form, my wife looked at me and said “You are going to write a blog post about this, aren’t you?”
Filling out forms is beneath me, so my wife filled it out. Actually, if I were to fill it out no one would be able to read it, it’s encrypted! After the form is filled out, they hand us a receipt and we proceed to the next step.
Step 4 – Vaccination Area
Before we enter the vaccination area, the guard at the door wants us to show our Aadhaar card and take a photocopy. Yes, his fingerprints are all over the Aadhaar card and more paper is generated.
Step 5 – Plastic Token
Someone sitting at a computer reviewed the printed receipt and looked at our Aadhaar card. We were then handed a plastic token, which was handled by god only knows how many people. Then, we literally waited for under a minute and moved to the next step.
Step 6 – Shot Given
The nurse took our plastic token and of course needed to see our Aadhaar card and wrote our Aadhaar number into some big registry which I’m guessing in 5 years will be used as fuel for a bonfire. Then the moment we have been waiting for, we got the shot!
Step 7 – Wait 30 Minutes
As a precautionary measure they wanted each person to wait at least 30 minutes to see if there were any immediate side effects. We waited and all was good. My only immediate side effect was the stress from all the people that touched that piece of paper.
Step 8 – Exit
As we leave they wanted to see the printed receipt to make sure we had waited at least 30 minutes. We got very lucky in that from the time we parked the car till we got back into the car, it was a total of 40 minutes flat.
On a side note, I would like to give kudos to the Indian government for publishing the APIs for the vaccine website, that’s a step in the right direction.