It was the niceties of the Mexican culture, their manners, and the way they treat people that really shone while I waited in line to receive my COVID vaccination.
Along with a few hundred others in my age group, we shuffled along an insanely long line. That is how it was run here on Cozumel. Each decade’s age group had a day for vaccination. Mine, the forty-something-year-old’s category, was one of the largest. But in true Mexican Caribbean laidback island style, it was not an issue. We all laughed, chatted with our neighbors, and bought snacks from the cart.
As the line progressed near the entrance it was very sweet to see staff walking the line looking for elderly people. If there were any, they were ushered out of the heat to go straight in. It was lovely to see how they treasure their abuelitas (grandmothers).
Overall my COVID-19 vaccination experience was stress-free, professional, quick, and very caring. Both times. From the initial entry to after-vaccination care. If anyone is worried about the process they shouldn’t be.
I was the only non-Mexican I could see and they made sure there was a lot of guidance. Also a lot of eyes crinkling in smiles behind their masks as they patiently listened to my bad Spanish. But hey, they loved that I tried.
Friendly marines and support staff checked our paperwork to make sure it was all in order.
Then onto another short line for the vaccination. People swayed and hummed or sang along listening to the music playing overhead. Most of us found ourselves dancing a little. But not for long, it was a short line and a very professional streamlined process.
The doctors and medics giggled as I sat looking confused when they asked me a question. I thought they were asking for a hug (abrazo), when what they were really asking was if I was pregnant (embarazada). As I said, I’m still learning Spanish and you have to admit that’s pretty funny. Plus, embarazada (pregnant) isn’t a word I use in everyday conversation.
Like most people, I’m not a huge fan of needles. Looking away, it was all over and done in a moment. Actually, to my surprise, it was one of the easiest and painless vaccinations of my life.
Then caring nurses took over. Escorted us to seats asking if we were alright. Their job, to make sure there was no adverse reaction to the vaccine over the next half hour before we’re able to leave. They attentively strolled the rows of their section checking on everyone. Especially the elderly. Marines helped out by offering bottled water.
Even though I’m learning and not yet fluent in Spanish I didn’t feel anxious or nervous once through the entire process. Having all of the correct paperwork helped.
If you don’t speak Spanish or are at the awkward and often hilarious Spanglish stage like me, then it is still easy. Just show the correct paperwork, along with your residency card, and you’ll be shown right in. You won’t have to speak at all.
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is that it’s crucial to register for your vaccine before you go and print out the registration form. You can find them on the Mexican government website: mi vacuna (my vaccine).
Then once you’ve confirmed your CURP (your residency number), it fills out the form for you and all you have to do is print and take it with you. If you aren’t sure what your CURP is or how to find it you can check that here.
Only having to show four forms to get my COVID shot was the thing that won me over. The registration form, a photocopy of your residency card (front and back), your CURP, and an electric bill or something similar as proof of address. That’s it.
Because it’s a free vaccine somehow a part of me thought there would be more paperwork. Or, that the process would be harder. But it was surprisingly easy to fill out the forms, print them, and just show up.
Getting my second vaccine, the process was repeated a month later. This time it was even easier because all the forms were already filled out. Just print and show up.
Overall getting COVID vaccinated as an expat in Mexico was an easy and painless exercise. It was actually fun people-watching. Seeing a giggling wife hand her phone to a marine who joined in the fun taking a photo of her husband’s face as he got the injection. Or, listening to people singing along with the music. It was more like a vaccine party than an anxious exercise.
So, if you’re worried about getting vaccinated in Mexico, don’t be. Just take a big hat to shield you from the sun if the lineup is outside and a bottle of water. If you’re like me, perhaps some dancing shoes as well.