At last, after a year of pandemic-related restrictions, and a heavy toll of suffering and loss, Switzerland and the rest of the world are implementing their vaccination programs. In late December 2020, the first person (a 90-year old woman in Lucerne) received the vaccine, and now more than 197K Swiss residents have followed (as of 24 January 2021). In Geneva, 11,811 people have already received at least the first round of the vaccine. For the latest statistics on the vaccine program, click here. And for the very latest from Switzerland’s FOPH, watch yesterday’s press conference below (remember to switch on the automatic subtitles if you’re not fluent in German!)

For a personal look at how receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has impacted two Geneva women, read on!

Marilyn and Anne, how has COVID-19 most affected you this past year?

Marilyn: Not seeing my family, half of whom live in the UK. Anne: I found the lockdowns challenging as I live alone. My children were worried and thus rather bossy about how I should stay home and not see anyone (I am normally very sociable and have a busy life with a lot of different interests).  I was lucky in that I have one daughter and adult granddaughter living nearby and the latter checked up on me, helping me order stuff online, calling me regularly, etc.  My local commune (I live in a village) was also very good at checking up on and helping its older residents. I was determined not to be depressed and found it very important to be able to go outside and do long walks.  Meeting friends is also very important but more difficult now as coffee shops and restaurants are closed and we are reluctant to socialize in each others’ houses. 

Were you both eager to take the vaccine?

Both: Yes!! Very!! Anne: I couldn’t understand those who are worried about taking it.

How did you arrange to take the vaccine? Did you sign up on the canton’s list or use a different way?

Marilyn: We found it difficult and confusing and tried several different websites. We are also tried the telephone number, where we finally got through to a person. Anne: I got a letter and signed up immediately on the website. I was surprised to get a date just a few days later.

How was the appointment for the vaccine?  Was it well-organized and easy to navigate?  Did the shot itself hurt or cause pain/side effects afterward?

Marilyn: I received the appointment on my mobile phone, but there was no mention of my husband even though we signed up at the same time. His appointment came through on my phone almost a week later. The shot was painless and very smoothly administered. The staff were charming. Anne: It was very well-organized, with no queuing. I only had to wait a few minutes, and everyone was very welcoming, kind and helpful. The jab itself didn’t hurt and there were no side effects except that the arm felt a little tender for a day or so.

How did you feel afterward (relieved, apprehensive, happy?)  Are you looking forward to the second round?

Marilyn: I felt happy and relieved, and am looking forward to being more fully covered by the second shot. Anne: I felt extremely happy and can’t wait for the second round (the date of 4 weeks later was given to me as I left the center.)

Any additional thoughts?

Marilyn: For older, not very technical people, the sign-up could be confusing. You have to enter your medical insurance number which is very long, so it’s easy to make a mistake. But once you get the appointment, everything was very easy. We went to the Carouge location where it was all on one floor (no stairs or lifts). Anne: I think that’s everything!

Living in Geneva canton? Don’t delay in signing up to receive the vaccine. Anyone who would like a vaccine can register (you don’t have to be 75+ or have underlying conditions!) For more details, click here. And by the way, the vaccine is free for everyone (your insurance and public funding will cover all associated costs.)

Are you feeling skeptical about taking the vaccine, or know someone who is? Visit the links here and here for pertinent information.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at  http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/