My Household’s World Vaccine Journey


On February 22nd, Mom wrote that she and Dad had booked an appointment on March 11th to take their first recordings, followed by the second dose in April. A day later, she reported that Dad hadn’t pressed the button to confirm the appointment in the online booking system and had lost the slots.

The next week they texted again: They had gone to a private clinic where Sinovac recordings were handed in. After a short wait, they received the vaccine. On April 2nd, they announced that they had received their second dose of Sinovac and were feeling fine. Mom complained that even though they had an appointment, they “still have to wait half an hour”.

Our responses were more enthusiastic.

“Great news,” I wrote.

“Yay!” Pui-Ying texted him, followed by solemn emojis.

“Congratulations!” Said Pui Ling.

Pui-Ying moved to Malawi with her family in 2016 to work as a doctor and conduct clinical studies on children’s health. Resources at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital where she works have been limited. When Madonna’s charity funded the construction of a new children’s wing in the hospital, which opened in 2017, it was big news.

The staff was scarce even before the coronavirus, said Pui-Ying. When the pandemic broke out, the hospital opted for a weeklong, weeklong routine to reduce staff exposure to Covid-19 while ensuring there were enough healthcare professionals working at all times. Masks, gloves and other protective equipment were rare.

In pediatrics, Pui-Ying and her colleagues have set up a “breathing zone” for children with Covid-19. It was essentially a two-room ward with about a dozen beds in the main room. The second room, which was an isolation unit, had space for four children.