By MICHELLE SLATER
Getting through the COVID hotline to get the Pfizer jab this week in Gippsland reminded me of attempting to get U2 tickets in 1989 through the old school ticketing agency Bass.
I hung on the phone to Bass, but the lines were always busy and I could never get through. Some of my mates camped outside the ticket office to try their luck.
But this isn’t the late 80s, it’s 2021.It was just like the Victorian COVID hotline which repeated the automated message “due to a high volume of calls, we are currently unable to take your call, please try again later”.
I was stoked when the state government announced last week that over 40s could get vaxxed. Generation X, we’re up! I believe it’s my civic duty to get vaccinated.
I finally got through the COVID line after three days and 27 attempts later. I was put on hold for about 20 minutes while listening to awful elevator music.
The phone operator was very friendly and we went through my deets to get me into my closest centre administering the Pfizer jabs in Traralgon.
But the system suddenly crashed and it didn’t recognise Traralgon, but he could book me into the Sale centre, an extra hour and a half away.
The guy on the phone said the IT techs were in Manila and didn’t work on Sundays. Go figure. An overloaded system with no tech support at hand.
He suggested calling back the next day to try and get into Traralgon. No way! It was like winning the lottery getting through this time and I said I’d take what I could get.
I thought it was hilarious when he asked me to write down my appointment with a pen and paper, instead of sending out an automated SMS like you get for most medical appointments.
I drove past the Traralgon vaccination centre on my way to my appointment where there was a massive line of walk-ins waiting to get in. It reminded me of my mates camping outside of Bass all those years ago.
I rocked up for the vaccine in Sale. And just like going to a gig, my name was on the door, so the security guard ushered me past the smattering of queuing walk-ins.
It was pretty vibey at the centre, everyone was chill and friendly.
I’m usually very wimpy with needles, but it didn’t hurt. As I write this the following day, I feel no side-effects, bar a vague ache at the vaccine site, which is nothing really.
I now have to run the COVID hotline gauntlet again in another month to get my booster.
This worries me, as I fear another round of endless calls for days on end trying to get through, or waiting for hours in line as a walk-in. I hope by then the system is easier to navigate.