Saturday, September 18

Vaccination stays up late in Madrid: 12,000 people come at dawn to receive the first dose

While Madrid sleeps on a working Tuesday in August, thousands of people stay awake to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Since last Friday, the Community vaccinates without an appointment with the first dose between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. For this, the Wizink Center and the Isabel Zendal pandemic hospital have been enabled. In the early morning hours of August 17-18, 1,259 injections were given in the first and 1,400 in the second, according to data from the Ministry of Health. In total, since last Friday, the figure rises to 12,100 punctures between both centers.

Pilgrimage in Madrid from hospital to hospital for the second Pfizer

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Around two in the morning, around the Zendal vaccination point, those who have received the puncture gather and go home with those who arrive. “I came at this time because I am a bit of a night owl and also thinking that I would find fewer people.” This is Adriano, who works at the airport and is one of about 20 people who make the first part of the queue outside. “I think there are few people, at least out here,” he says.

After ten minutes, the line finally enters the building. When Manuela arrives there is no longer a trace of that trickle of people and she can directly access the interior. “I do not think they will let me choose a vaccine. But I do not care what they put,” he says. Inside, a long queue runs down a first corridor that leads to a pavilion, where it makes several zigzags until finally the puncture is received. This may take more than two or three hours. “I don’t care, I come prepared. This means that, at least, there is a response from the population,” says Manuela.

“When I saw the queue, I didn’t think it was going to be that long,” says Eva. He has come with Fran and Rocío, their two children, 17 and 28 years old. They arrived at eleven o’clock at night and he is waiting for them inside to shelter from the cool that is breathed tonight in Madrid as a contrast to the heat of the past days. “I am talking to them regularly and they are still in the queue, which seems to go around several times. Although they think they have little left,” he says.

Both Adriano, Eva and Manuela have come by private car. It is the only option next to a taxi or VTC, because at that time public transport no longer works to access the Zendal. “What we do not see well is that there are no signs to get here,” protests Manuela’s companion. “None until you’re arriving,” he insists.

At dawn this Wednesday only eight nurses are giving vaccines in the Zendal. This is how a TCAE tells this media, who prefers not to reveal his name and who affirms that each professional gives “hundreds of injections” in the shift. She and seven other colleagues do not puncture, but they are in charge of completing records of all those who go for their first dose or those who come for the second puncture, in this case by appointment. “There are many more people without appointments than with appointments. The rush hour is from nine at night. Then the volume goes down around three in the morning, where they are already arriving at a dropper,” he says. One of these people is Ricardo, who accompanies his son to get the vaccine: “We hadn’t been able to before because we were away, on vacation,” he argues.

After two thirty in the morning, more people pass through the exit hall than through the entrance hall. “We have been three hours and 35 minutes since we arrived. There were many more people than we thought,” say Rocío, Fran and Marcos after leaving with their dressing on their arm. They have put Pfizer on them, the vaccine that is being administered tonight at the center. “I have not felt the prick, really,” says the latter.

While Marcos will have to return in about 21 days for his second injection, Fran and Rocío already have the complete schedule, needing only one dose for having passed the COVID, so Eva breathes relieved. “My husband is ill with cancer, so it is good that they get vaccinated, to protect themselves and him,” he says. “Although it seems to me that it is important that we all do it,” he continues. “Last year they operated on me and I had to spend a whole night in the ICU. I don’t wish anyone what I saw there, but I would like all these people who think this is a joke to spend five minutes in one, no I think that everything we can do we have to do it. That’s why you have to come here or to any vaccination point, “he adds.

Around three in the morning, Eva and her children leave the hospital. After them, those who have also received their first puncture continue to leave: parents and children, couples, single people, siblings, groups of friends … “It must be hard to be working this shift”, assess two boys as they approach the exit. They all head to their cars or in search of a taxi. “I think it would be reasonable if there was public transport to come here at this time, because not all of us can afford this expense,” protests Miriam, as she waits for a car to pick her up.

Skip the line in the middle of the day: “At this time they are already in droppers”

17 kilometers and a half hour later, the image at the Wizink Center is very different. “It has been emptied almost an hour ago, at 02:45. Now they are arriving by dropper,” one of the entrance workers, in charge of checking the data of those who come in search of their first puncture, tells “When I arrived, at eleven o’clock at night, I said ‘Oh my god she’s waiting for me!’ The queue went around the building, although I always prefer it that way, “he adds. Four and a half hours later, however, where the lines that end up going around the building are formed, there is no one left.

Between 03:30 and 04:45, around ten people arrive for the first dose of Pfizer, which is also the one being injected there. Parents who accompany their children or people who come for a walk, walk or on their bike. In all cases, the procedure is quick: they arrive, show the guards their identification and enter the interior of the Palacio de los Deportes, where, at most, they spend fifteen minutes.

In order to receive the first dose without an appointment, it is not necessary to be registered in Madrid, but you do need to provide your ID or Spanish passport, your driver’s license, the CIPA code that is on your personal health card or the NIE. Among the failed attempts of the night, two foreigners who were going to “prick” but who could not go through having their identification expired; or a woman, also a foreigner, who did not carry any of the physical documents that are allowed. The same thing happened to two girls, who approached because on 900 102 112 – the information telephone number set up by the Community of Madrid – they were sent there without specifying what they had to bring. “They send them to us here as if this were a market,” protests the door worker, who denounces the lack of information that Health offers in that number and “how badly it works.”