Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine in Saudi Arabia

As an Ex-pat living in Saudi Arabia, I was fortunate enough to get both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Notice to Haters: I was legitimately eligible, medically and age-wise; I did not lie, cheat, cut in line, or pay anyone off to get my vaccine. The whole process was amazingly painless. I downloaded the Ministry of Health application on my phone. I then provided my personal information and answered a series of questions. Within 48 hours I got a text message saying I was eligible and could make an appointment. I made the appointment for the next day via the application.

I was assigned to the Riyadh Expo Center location. My driver knew where it was, and as we approached, a series of very clear signs, in English and Arabic, showed where to enter. Friendly helpers waved us to the drop-off area. Masked staff were waiting at the bottom of the giant ramp leading to the center to show the way. They also had a fleet of wheelchairs waiting for those patients who might find it difficult to make the walk. As I reached the top of the ramp, there were several different lines to get in, all with markers to stand on to remain socially distanced. At the door I scanned the QVC code I had received on the app and was directed to a numbered waiting room. The entire enormous floor of the expo center was transformed into hundreds of mini doctors’ offices. The many waiting rooms each only held 4-6 people, with the chairs spaced far apart. The numbers for the waiting rooms were in Arabic and English script.

I barely got settled into my waiting room chair when my name was called and I was directed to a cubicle. A nice masked young man in medical scrubs asked if it was OK for him to administer the vaccine, or if I wanted a female nurse. I said he would do just fine. Without further ado, the man asked me a series of questions about whether I was experiencing symptoms, had been exposed, or had any allergies. I asked to see the vial and it did, indeed, have the Pfizer label. After that, I rolled up the sleeve of my abaya and he jabbed me. I barely even felt it! I was then directed to another tiny waiting room and offered juice and water. After 15 minutes, a young woman said I could go. I followed the very easy signs to the exit, where I was given a white rose. All in all, I was in and out in under 30 minutes. Thank you, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!

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