Just like over half the country, I took advantage of the social welfare system here in Sweden and received a completely free (you know, if you don’t count all of the taxes I pay) H1N1 vaccine. It was a very Swedish experience.
I made sure to take a look at my friendly neighborhood Vårdcentral. They had the vaccine, gave opening times, and even said there were drop in times. So I dropped in. Only to find out that drop in times were limited. To a few hours once a week.
Luckily, those few hours were the very next day. Drop-ins started at two in the afternoon. I was there at one. I was there at one because, in true Swedish fashion, I was supposed to take a number. The ubiquitous Swedish nummerlapp was being used in full force. I grabbed my number, filled in my health information, and wandered around for an hour. Heading back at two on the dot. I know how Sweden works.
Promptly at two, they began calling out numbers to be inoculated. Because I am just so very Swedish know and know how the system works, my number was very close to the front. I was sitting pretty. By sitting I mean standing at the back of a throng of people.
Despite the number system, there was a massive group of people waiting impatiently to get their vaccine. All of them crammed around the door to the poking room. The poor old lady yelling out the numbers was overwhelmed. And confused.
The numbers had rolled over (I was number 980 in case you were wondering) to the zeroes. There were well over a hundred people waiting which led to confusion. Because when the old lady yelled out number 74, two people came forward. Oh the humanity. Luckily, after much discussion, it was decided that the old lady should yell out all three numbers to avoid any future confusion. With just a few more numbers in front of me, I was glad that we had figured that out. I didn’t want to fight for my vaccine.
I was called into the poking room with three other people. My nurse took my health information and read my personnummer to me. She did not ask for any sort of ID. She didn’t ask me to recite it to make sure they made sense. She read it back to me. Luckily, it was actually my number and they weren’t shooting anyone else up. She also asked if I was allergic to eggs. I am not.
She then cracked a joke. Something about not wanting the disease but wanting the vaccine. I nodded, without acknowledging her joke, because it just wasn’t funny. I didn’t want to encourage her.
Then as swiftly as she made her bad joke, she poked me full of H1N1 vaccine. And the only thing I noticed was that she wasn’t wearing gloves.
I headed back to work and made it a couple of hours before I started making bad jokes while oinking. Or nöff-ing as the Swedish pigs say. I’m sure they were much appreciated by my co-workers.
In the following days, I felt nothing. I did not get sick. I did not get a fever. I did not die. The only side effect was that it felt like someone had poked a needle into my arm. Because someone had. All in all, I felt good that I was getting a little use out of my tax crowns.
Welcome to Sweden. And mass vaccinations.