It was a fulfilling experience for those who got the first jabs of the Covid-19 vaccine in the country yesterday.
"Feeling good. I am not facing any problem. I am not scared," Runu Veronica Costa, a senior nurse, told The Daily Star after receiving the first vaccine shot administered in the country at the Kurmitola General Hospital.
While Runu was getting the vaccine, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was connected with the auspicious occasion via video conference from the Gono Bhaban, asked whether she (Runu) was afraid.
Runu shook her head and said, "No."
The first day of the pilot vaccination campaign was aired live through state-run Bangladesh Television.
After Runa got the vaccine dose, the prime minister said, "Stay well and stay sound."
These small conversations and inspiring words from the prime minister eased the otherwise serious atmosphere in the booths where people were conducting the vital task of administering and receiving vaccine doses.
While in most such ceremonies reporters usually watch from the sidelines, this reporter had the rare experience of living the story as one of 26 persons from different frontline professional groups who volunteered to get the vaccine dose on the opening day.
Wearing a bottle green nurse's apron and a surgical mask covering her face, Runu, a 38-year-old KGH employee, also said, "I would like to urge people not to be panicked or afraid of it [the Covid-19 vaccine]. Come and get the vaccine."
Senior staff nurse of the hospital Dipa Yasmin administered the vaccine to Runu while her colleague Rina Aktar assisted her.
Runu was then taken to an observation room adjacent to the vaccine booth where she was under observation for 30 minutes.
Five recipients, including Runu, were vaccinated in the virtual presence of the prime minister. The remaining recipients were then vaccinated one after another.
Before the start of the vaccination process, all recipients had to sign a consent paper where it was stated that they were being vaccinated voluntarily.
Prof Dr Nasima Sultana, additional director general of Directorate General of Health Services, said she took the vaccine to make people aware of it.
"I would say people should not be afraid of the vaccine without any reason. It will protect from Covid-19. We were saying from the beginning that [wearing] mask is a protector, social distancing is a protector; similarly, vaccines will provide long-term protection."
Prof Sultana, who has been on the frontlines since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, also asked people to come forward to be vaccinated.
"You should take the vaccine whenever you get the chance," she said.
After receiving his first vaccine jab, noted physician Prof Dr Arup Ratan Choudhury said, "I am a freedom fighter. I am also a frontline fighter against Covid-19. I would request all to take the vaccine without any fear."
When it was the turn of this reporter, it felt like a pinch but like others getting the vaccine, it was a fulfilling experience – the gloom and sense of fear that had prevailed for much of the last year dissipated to a certain extent.
In the observation room, doctors and nurses were asking whether anyone was facing any problems.
"Do you feel any localised pain? Do you face any abnormalities? Do you face any difficulties?" a doctor was asking vaccine recipients, including this reporter.
Dipa Yasmin, a vaccinator, shared her joy after administering the doses.
"We regularly vaccinate but this vaccination is completely different. I am excited that I have become a part of history. I feel proud," Dipa said.
She said she will get the vaccine soon.