Please Pass The (right) Yellow Book

Some days are just too weird for me. Today is one such day and it goes over and beyond the call of the typical Berlin chaos. Where do I even begin to tell you my strange tale? Let’s travel back in time, shall we?

Time travel activated!

In December 2001 we moved from New Delhi to Berlin, my daughter being barely three years old at the time. One of the first things we did was to find a paediatrician and transfer her vaccination records from the Indian record book to the standard German one, which is a yellow booklet the size of a passport. We each have one and you are supposed to keep them within reach anywhere you go and anytime you go to the doctor. Well, a few months later we adopted a cat and took it to the vet, determined to name it Thomas O’Malley like the main character from Aristocats. The vet emerged from the examination room with a grin and asked whether we had an alternative name for our new family member, because Thomas was actually a Tomasina. We left the vet clinic that day with a wide-eyed Molly instead and a brand new pet vaccination booklet, which was also yellow. You see what’s coming don’t you?

For the next three years I kept entertaining the paediatrician and the vet with the wrong vaccination booklet, handing over my daughter’s to the vet, and the cat’s to the paediatrician. One didn’t fancy giving a paediatric booster shot to the four-legged child, and the other was not keen on deworming my daughter. In the end, I just brought both booklets along and figured it out on the spot.

Over the years our vaccination booklets filled up with the necessary vaccines required for living overseas, and I didn’t really think much of it. The issue with the pet vaccine record solved itself the moment we left Germany because then the darn cat was issued an EU Pet passport, which was an unmistakable bright blue. This particular booklet pissed me off because at the time I was still a Filipino citizen and the darn cat was entitled to enter more European countries than I was! Well Molly eventually crossed the rainbow bridge, and then the subsequent cats had more exotic vaccination records – Filipino, Thai for starters. My current grannies have two yellow booklets again, but I keep them in separate folders now, having learned my lesson.

The human vaccination booklet has become a lead character in the eye of the pandemic storm, as you are required to bring it along for your COVID-19 vaccine, after which you will be issued a QR code to be uploaded to the Corona App, which is presented everywhere you go. Oh, and by the way, the yellow booklet also comes in digital form now, and you can transfer all your vaccination records to that instead of carrying the little yellow booklet. But that is beside the point.

The Federal government had yet another emergency Cabinet meeting today, spearheaded by the outgoing and incoming chancellors. If today’s resolutions are anything to go by, we are in deep trouble the next few years. Whereas outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel showed far too much restraint in the handling of the pandemic in Germany, incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz is going a completely different rabbit hole. Today he declared that
1. he is in favour of a mandatory vaccination rule and
2. pharmacists, dentists and vets should be empowered to give the vaccine so as to cover as many people in the quickest time possible.
Germany is teetering on the verge of national emergency as the booster shot campaign is overlapping with the ongoing strategy to get everyone immunised with the first round. Is your head spinning yet? It’s not my writing, trust me, the situation here is absolutely hair (hare?) raising.

Oh good lord, this means the darn yellow booklets are indeed to be presented to the vets now!

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