Second Covid-19 Vaccination

Second Covid-19 Vaccination

Sofia, Bulgaria

After arriving in Sofia, Bulgaria, I spent some time trying to find out where I could get my second covid-19 vaccination. Even after translation, the results of my internet searches were not particularly helpful. Most advised that I should attend one of the vaccination points, without providing any information about where these points actually were. So I had the same plan as for my first vaccination in Varna (see First Covid-19 Vaccination): just turn up at somewhere medical and ask.

So off I went across the city, heading for the nearest hospital. It turned out to be a private facility, and when I asked the staff if they provided Covid-19 vaccinations they said no. I asked them where I could go for my shot, and they looked blankly and said they didn’t know. I found this a little surprising, seeing as there is, by all accounts, a worldwide pandemic in progress. Mind you, it seems to me that apart from mask wearing in shops and government facilities, and the closure of some restaurants, Bulgarians are pretty much going about their business seemingly unconcerned about Corona. I even attended a mask-free street festival in Varna which included crowded outdoor bars, cafes and live music. Perhaps the apparent Bulgarian laissez-faire attitude to the pandemic explains why the nation has been a European laggard when it comes to vaccination.

Thankfully, an English-speaking bloke waiting in the queue at the reception desk overheard my conversation, and told me that I could get vaccinated at the National Palace of Culture Metro Station. I thanked him, and after finding the station on my phone app, started off back the way I came.

After about half an hour’s walk I arrived at the Metro station entrance. There were no signs featuring the word ‘Corona’ or ‘Covid’. I went down the stairs into the station and and had a look around. It looked like any underground station anywhere in the world, with commuters pushing through turnstiles, escalators leading somewhere, and lots of pale coloured floor and wall tiles. I walked around for a bit, and couldn’t find anything that looked remotely medical.

Metro Station Sofia
Sofia’s National Palace of Culture Metro Station: a Corona vaccination point, apparently

Perhaps the station was no longer one of the mysterious vaccination points, or maybe I had misheard and wound up at the wrong Metro stop. I climbed back up the steps and found a security guard near the station entrance. Using the translation app on the phone I asked him about Covid-19 vaccination, and he pointed down the stairs. I thanked him and wondered how I could have missed it.

I went back down the stairs, and using the translation app again, asked the ticket office lady where the vaccination point was. She gestured to go around the back of the ticket booth, and when I did she appeared at a back door and called for a security guard. This bloke opened the turnstile for me, and then kindly escorted me down the corridor, against the flow of commuters coming from the platforms. We arrived at a small office, and the security guard motioned towards it. I thanked him and approached the ‘clinic’.

There were posters and banners up outside the office, and a camera crew and reporter were busy setting up. The queue of just four vaxxers were busy filling out a form, which was naturally written in Bulgarian. I hoped, as this was my second Covid-19 vaccination, that my details would be on the system, and the card I had been given by the previous clinic would hold all the necessary information I needed to provide. Upon reaching the front of the queue I found this was not the case, and I was sent back out to complete the form.

Second vaccination point Sofia Metro
‘A ticket to Sofia Central and a Pfizer shot, thanks’

I watched the lady next to me in an attempt to figure out what to write and where. The name and date of birth were pretty straight forward, and I guessed which line to sign upon. I left the rest blank and rejoined the short queue, and upon reaching the front again the staff showed me where to write my passport number. They asked if I was here for my second Pfizer, which I confirmed. Seconds later I had been duly injected, and received, hot off the printer, direct from the Ministry Of Health Of The Republic Of Bulgaria, an EU Vaccination Certificate. You beauty! I hoped it would be my ticket to a PCR test-free future. I thanked the staff, and clutching my prized certificate like a University award, I made for the door.

The camera crew were in the midst of conducting a television interview with an important looking bloke in a suit, who I presumed was from the aforementioned Ministry Of Health Of The Republic Of Bulgaria. Perhaps he was trying to persuade Sofia’s residents to come on down and get vaccinated. The clinic was certainly a little on the quiet side.

Second vaccination clinic Sofia metro
When the crew wouldn’t let Yordan operate the camera, he went off in a huff

I watched for a short time, then left the metro, passing the nurse who had given me my shot who was on the stairs having a smoke. Bulgarians love a ciggie; in fact I’d go so far as to say smoking is the national sport. I thanked him again as I passed, then stood under a tree in the park by the entrance and ate a snack. The film crew cameraman and a reporter appeared from the metro, and came up to me. The reporter asked if I’d mind being on Bulgarian National Television. I said no worries, and with camera rolling, the reporter asked why I had decided to be vaccinated in Sofia. I said that the Bulgarian people were generous enough to allow travellers to be vaccinated, and that I appreciated the opportunity to have the shots. The crew thanked me and disappeared.

I tell you what, it’s a real relief to be fully vaccinated. Apart from reducing the health risk posed by Covid-19 to myself and others, travelling ought to be a little more straightforward now too. Having to figure out where to get a PCR test done in a non-English speaking country, within the stipulated time window before travelling to a new place, and then sometimes having to have another test upon arrival, was a real bastard.

So thankyou Bulgaria!

If you liked this post you may also like First Covid-19 Vaccination, Air Travel in the Covid Age

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2 thoughts on “Second Covid-19 Vaccination

  1. Good to read your exploits Jim, and to hear you will be on Bulgarian TV
    Having your vaccination certificate so important. Especially if you ever want to come home! We are in 8th Lockdown!

    1. Hi Faye, yeah I’ve been watching ABC news and it seems like the genie is out of the bottle for good in NSW, and Vic suffering through yet another lockdown. Hopefully things will return to normal after enough people get vaccinated. Hang in there!

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