After weeks of fretting, I have finally had my first COVID-19 vaccination. Ever since I received a letter from the NHS saying that I was now eligible, I had religiously gone on the prescribed website to look for a suitable appointment. I was checking half a dozen times per day, perhaps even more, but with no luck.

Perhaps I was being too picky. I decided I didn’t want to travel to some of the sites that were on offer, such as Saltburn. Whilst the site said that it wasn’t that far in miles, having done the journey I knew it was a three hour round trip. I think it would have meant crossing seven county borders. With the two of us, including my wife, not guaranteed a slot together, or even at the same location, it was possible that I would end up making the journey four times.

I was prepared to travel as far as Durham yet every time I went on the website I could not get an appointment. Occasionally I would get as far as being offered a time only to find it was gone once I pressed accept. It was quite a demoralising experience and in the end the website advised that I might not be able to get an appointment until after April and so I scaled back my efforts.

Interestingly though, the site never offered me anything north of Morpeth. I wonder what happened to Alnwick or Berwick (or even into Scotland) and I began to suspect that there was something up with the vaccination system itself.

Then out of the blue I got a call from my doctor’s surgery, offering my wife a place. The next day I was offered one as well and, with a bit of gentle negotiating, I managed to get two slots within twenty minutes of each other and within a couple of kilometres from our house.

I’m delighted to have had my first jab and grateful to the way that the NHS has risen to the occasion. I am, however, suspicious of the organization that has gone on. It is as if there were two vaccine programmes in place, a national one via the websites and a local one via the doctor’s surgery.

I only wish I had known in advance and then I wouldn’t have had to stress so much.

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