This is a tale of two vaccine centres. My wife had her first jabbed about 8 weeks ago. Because she had to be offered the Pfizer jab, she found that she had to travel to another town to get her first vaccination. She turned up at the venue which was buried away in the bleaker part of an old shopping centre and joined a queue of people. After a while she was given a form to fill in. She then gave the form to another person who went through ti with her before queuing again. Finally she saw a third person and thought “maybe I’ll get my jab now?” But no, first of all she had to go through the answers she had already given.
I was surprised because this was completely different to my experience at my first vaccine. When we went for my second jab last week, we found the venue on a local high street. I waked in, saw the person at the desk, was checked in and then walked through to the vaccination area. I received my jab and was through the process and ready to go home in about 5 minutes (If I’d been driving or had Pfizer instead of AZ I might have had to wait for 10 mins to make sure I was okay). It was a smooth, straight forward, relatively painless experience.
So when Sarah got the text saying she could rebook her second appointment for an earlier time and found she could book in to the same centre, guess what she did. That’s right she opted to go for the quicker, easier, local option.
Now, it strikes me first of all that we have a problem here in terms of the vaccination programme. Apparently the number of first jabs given has more or less ground to a halt. We expected it to slow down as we came towards the end of course. However, there is a concern that younger people (18s -30s) are more hesitant at coming forward for their jab. This isn’t really a surprise, so that being the case, we should be making it as easy as possible for them to get vaccinated.
Surveys suggest that the young are as willing to get vaccinated as the elderly. However, if we expect them to receive an email, or even a text, then go on a site to book an appointment for a few weeks time, travel a distance, queue and fill in forms then we may just have misunderstood that generation. We should be making it easy not hard for them to get a shot or two of Pfizer in the amr. I expect that pop up high street vaccination centres and an invite to drop by will be more effective.
This is true across life and its true in church life too. Do we make it easy or hard for people to find us, to hear the Gospel, to get involved, to use their gifts once they follow Christ, to serve in mission? Or do we make it complicated? Do we put up barriers because of bureaucracy or cultural naivety? Do we give the impression that they are an inconvenience instead of welcome?
Remember, the only stumbling block is meant to be the Cross. Nothing else.