Can't get a slot on COWIN? Tried and tested tips to get COVID-19 vaccine

In an urban jungle like Mumbai, the residents are always running after something. It’s either the Morning 8.35 am local to Churchgate or the Evening 5.29 pm ride home to Kalyan. We are either standing in line for groceries or queueing up in vehicles on the highway. No matter where you are in Mumbai or who you are, there is always a jostling for space. Add to that the new race for vaccination slots!

And trust me this one is far tougher than grabbing a window seat in a Mumbai local during peak-hour travel.

The government opened up the vaccination registration for the 18-44 age group on April 28, 2021. Since then it’s been the luck of the draw as far as getting a slot is concerned in this age category. And there isn’t any hack or magic trick to ace the game. So if someone tells you that there is a shortcut, just cut them off and don’t fall for their theory. It has been a matter of pure chance, and fastest finger first! Sit tight, watch the time of the slots, and be quick to enter your details. And, keep trying.

The district where I live, Palghar, has only one vaccination centre and the slots there get booked much faster than I can type. So I thought of taking a chance with the 8 vaccination centres in Mumbai. Here too I found that the slots were booked in less than a minute. After all, there are more Quick Gun Murugans in Mumbai than in Palghar.

Here are some tips from a pro-CoWin user:

First and foremost, BOOK and only then go to the centre. Don’t land up there hoping,’ho jaega’. Don’t accompany a friend or relative again hoping,’Ho jaega. Let me burst your bubble,’ Nahi Hoga’. It won’t happen, they will politely ask you to go back and will surely judge you while being polite.

Tip 1: Mumbaikars, keep an eye on @mybmc handle, they release a tweet everyday about 15 mins before they open slots.

Tip 2: Always use incognito while booking, it will help. No need to understand the technicalities behind it. Just use it.

Tip 3: Don’t wait for 1 centre to approve. There are almost lakhs who are trying to get those 500 slots and chances of you securing a slot is less than 1%. So if you select the slot and enter the captcha and there is no response go back to appointment and try another centre.

Tip 4: If you are the chosen one for that day then good luck. Go ahead and download the appointment slip. But if not, keep trying.

Special tip: If you are Telegram user, try this: https://covialerts.in . They give you timely updates whenever the slots open.

What’s next?

First, punch your fist in the air, do a little Bollywood dance step to celebrate your victory. Whatever works for you. You now have a slot!

I had my slot reserved for 1-3 pm, but as typical Indians do I landed up there by 11am and to my surprise there was no queue at all. The reason I was taken aback by the lack of a queue was that I had taken my father to the Dahisar Jumbo Centre for his shot and we had to endure a 3-hour long queue for 65+ aged category. We finally returned home triumphant but fatigued. So, expecting a similar fate, I decided to give myself a 2-hour headstart.

The vaccination centre was, The World Tower MCGM parking, G/ South Ward, it falls under Aditya Thackeray’s assembly constituency. There was a red carpet welcome for people coming there, and I mean literally there was a red carpet!

I walked up to the counter and presented my case. I was taken in and the actual process of administering the jab took about 5 minutes. Then I was asked to wait for 30 minutes to observe any adverse effects. And just like that I was out of there in 40 minutes, flat.

I have to say, BMC, I am impressed with the efficiency and professionalism. Dear Mumbaikars, go and get yourself vaccinated. It’s an easy process and nothing to fear.

PS: I have never seen the Mumbai trains this empty before!

Vaccine and its after effects:

I got the CoVaxin jab. I wasn’t aware at the time of booking and it doesn’t really matter. Doctors, Nurses and volunteers at the vaccination centre were very helpful. I have Trypanophobia, basically fear of injections and needles, trying to be Shashi Tharoor and all. But, yes the jab is very smooth. Dr. Sarika, who gave the jab did it very well. Post vaccination I spoke to the Nodal Officer of that centre, Dr. Alok Yadav, he was a 30-35 year old doctor and was kind enough to talk and try to resolve everyone’s grievances. He manages this vaccination centre, he also helped me with statistics, So daily each vaccination centre is allowed to vaccinate upto 500 people and since its inauguration i.e two days ago, it has vaccinated 478 and 471 people respectively. By the time I had my jab I was 250th for the day already at 11 am. The data got me thinking. Who are these 30-odd people who got a slot but didn’t turn up for the jab?

This is not a game and book only if you wish to get vaccinated.

Post vaccination I took a 2-hour train ride home. Now after the sleepover, I do have a little fever and body ache, but that is normal as per what I was told. I was asked to take prescribed tablets, I had it after dinner. I would be fine in a day or two.

Lastly, this is only first jab you need to get second and this whole process need to be followed again.

One of the Rare moment
One of the Rare moment
Second of the rare moment
Second of the rare moment
The World Tower, Lower Parel
The World Tower, Lower Parel
Vaccination Centre, with Red Carpet
Vaccination Centre, with Red Carpet
Can't get a slot on COWIN? Tried and tested tips to get COVID-19 vaccine

Pro Tips on what rules to follow at a Vaccination centre:

Tip 1: Always double mask yourself while going for vaccination. Carry a sanitiser.

Tip 2: DO NOT wanderlust before or after the vaccination. You are not out for a picnic. Just get the jab and return home.

Tip 3: Don’t panic or create one at the vaccine centre. If you got a slot for yourself, they will give you the vaccine. Don’t nag the attendants at the Vaccination centre. Just consider the number of people they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Tip 4: Always keep your appointment slip and identity proof handy, no need to get a Xerox/ Printout of your appointment slip they can read it from your mobile.

Tip 5: Adhere to the queue, vaccination is for adults, so behave like one.

Tip 6: Observation time of 30 mins is for your safety. So don’t try to avoid it.

Pro Tips about the vaccine and after effects:

Tip 1: Don’t be choosy between the time slots. You have 35 secs to get a slot. It is always better to have one than none.

Tip 2: “Always have heavy breakfast before vaccination”: Dr. Sarika

Tip 3: SHOW UP once registered for slot. This is like Sanjeevani for many, so if you don’t want it make way for others.

Tip 4: You might get fever and body ache, consult your family physician and act upon their advice.

Tip 5: Also remember to get your second jab with 42-56 days according to your vaccine. You are partially vaccinated for now so stay at home.

Finally, gratitude towards the Frontline workers who are working tirelessly for over one and half year now, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, for providing one of the best facilities and running the drive with limited supply and to Dr. Alok Yadav and Dr. Sarika for making this first jab very easy.

(This is a First Person account of the writer.)

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