Sweetheart’s mom is well past 90, so she belongs to the age group first entitled to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in Germany. We didn’t think, this would go down so effortless – but alas: the promised letter from Berlin’s mayor arrived a couple of weeks ago, informing her that she is now in line and able to make two appointments at a mass-vaccination center in town.
Sweetheart first was annoyed with the location on offer, as it is quite a drive away. But it is the only vaccination center in town up and running. With the Biontec/Pfizer stuff requiring deep temperature storage and also being very sensitive to vibration (an expert likened it to a handful of whipped cream), said location seems to offer all the needs and space to run such an operation. And with the low number of vaccinations available, it might not be reasonable to run more than one center, yet. The space chosen is a huge, red-brick factory building in Berlin-Treptow that used to be a party and event location not so long ago. And the entire procedure could not have been organized any better. From entrance to exit, sweetheart and his mom were attended to by extra-friendly staff, explaining every step along the way. The non-medical personnel consisting of soldiers who are training more staff from culture institutions in town (that are closed due to the lock-down right now and the workers there, instead of tending to wardrobe, ticketing, cleaning, maintenance, technology and running of museums, concert halls, theatres and so forth, are now offered employment at the vaccination centers. I think this alone is a brilliant idea in itself.) The entire process from registration to counseling, the shot itself, the monitoring period (checking for any allergic reactions that might occur), to checking the appointment for the second shot (Feb. 6th, btw) – it all took no longer than half an hour – as I was to learn.
The center open now is just one of seven or eight more to be put into use as soon as enough vaccine is available in town. For now, first those over 90 and now folks 85 or older, plus the medical and caretaking workforce most exposed to the infection are invited to the short allotment of vaccines available in Berlin. And it is operated at 1.000 patients per day right now, whereas, once everything and everybody is up and running or trained well enough, is actually meant to serve 5.000 patiens per day.
And here we get to the only hang-up with the venue: there is NO parking space, what so ever. One is allowed to drive by, drop the patient off and has to leave right away. Same procedure with the pick up. As there is also no public transport outlet closeby (at least not close enough for the elderly), the government also pays for taxi rides to and from the center (another great idea to help all the cabbies now suffering under the lock-down, too). But we were warned: my boss had his mom vaccinated just a day earlier, so I knew to come along as the assigned driver, whereas sweetheart was the escort throughout the procedure.
I dropped the two off and drove up the road, to get my car parked somewhere. I planned on a quick walk around the area, while waiting. I only got a rather short walk up and down one of the many canals of Berlin (Flutgraben, to be exact) out of it, as the two were done already after half an hour. I know the stretch of water leading north of where I parked my car on Schlesische Straße but never ventured south before. So I tried it, this time. Here are a few impressions of a wintery Berlin, taken on this walk.