ISLAMABAD: Outside a coronavirus vaccination center in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, Rabeeya Ijaz laughed when asked what she would do now that she and her husband were both fully inoculated.
“I’m desperate to travel, not just out of the country, but to go safely around Pakistan as well,” Ijaz, an entrepreneur, told Arab News.
She is one of over two million Pakistanis who have been fully vaccinated and 3.6 million who have received at least one dose of a COVD-19 vaccine as part of an inoculation campaign that was launched in February, prioritising the elderly and frontline health workers. Since then, the Pakistan government has broadened the drive to include everyone aged 19 and above, with the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, CanSino, and as of Monday, Pfizer vaccines, approved for emergency use in the country.
Arab News spoke to fully vaccinated residents of Islamabad on Monday who said they looked forward to life returning to normal — to being able to travel, hug family and friends and generally feel safe.
“Eid was wonderful,” art director Sana Tariq Hassan said, referring to last month’s Eid Al-Fitr holiday. “I could meet my fully vaccinated relatives without wearing masks, hug them, greet them, and that felt like a miracle after a year of not being able to do so.”
Hassan said she hoped more people could feel “the level of normal” she and her family now did: “The more people get vaccinated, the closer I am to getting through a day without this mask on my face!”
Mohammad Sabr, a teacher and lecturer, called the vaccine a “shield”.
“I feel safer!” he told Arab News outside Islamabad’s Mass Vaccination Center in F-9 Park where he and his wife had come to receive their second shot. “It’s protection. Of course, it’s not 100 percent [immunity] but it [vaccine] is there for you if COVID attacks you.”
Banker Syed Asad Abbas Zaidi said the “psychological impact of the relief” of being vaccinated was immense.
“It’s the first time in our lives we have had to keep our distance from our people,” he said. “This caution is now in us and though we are not near the end of it [the pandemic] yet, [the second dose] feels good because it is the first step toward going back to our norms of meeting and being together.”