Mega vax center

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco - The Philippine Star

It is a tempest in a teapot. I am not a fan of this administration’s COVID response. But when they want to do something right, we should cheer them on.

So, General Galvez says they need a mega vaccination center and ever helpful Ricky Razon is ready to fund its construction. There is this idle land belonging to a government owned entity. But a bureaucrat is hindering the project. Baka kulang lang sa pansin.

From the explanation of General Galvez, the current makeshift facilities managed by LGUs will not be enough if they want to meet ambitious vaccination targets. I agree.

Also, most of the current vax centers aren’t exactly safe. Poor ventilation makes COVID infection a real danger for people.

According to General Galvez, he needs the mega vax center because large shipments of vaccines are about to arrive. It would be tragic if the vaccines are already here, but the pace of vaccination can’t be accelerated for lack of adequate facilities.

Even now, Dr. Tony Leachon has pointed out we are still at 40,000 to 60,000 vaccinations per day. At this rate, we cannot consume our stock of 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca that will expire next month. Such a criminal waste if that happens.

Razon’s ICTSI has agreed to foot the bill for building the center (more than P250 million) and has even brought Architect Jun Palafox onboard. Palafox is also donating his services.

Palafox will design a proper facility that will include an ambulatory and a drive-in option. This is a good example for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in this time of crisis.

ICTSI has also started recruiting and training the doctors, nurses and other staff who will work at the center. Proper freezers and other requirements are also being procured at no cost to taxpayers. The COVID isolation facility nearby was also built months ago by ICTSI and is still being used.

Palafox told me via Viber message that the mega vax center can handle 10,000 to 12,000 vaccinations per day.

“We transferred the drive through away from the trees...

“Our architectural designs for the vaccination courts can be recycled, transportable, replicated in our 44,000 barangays nationwide with covered basketball courts. For the drive throughs, these can be replicated in under-utilized roads and parking lots...”

Being recyclable and transportable, it will be easier and faster to set up if we need to vaccinate everyone all over again next year. We will likely need booster shots.

Palafox explained, a vaccination site in a public school with a 5,000-square-meter campus can only vaccinate 300 to 400 persons per day. That can be improved to 3,000 a day with a good architectural design and masterplan, systematic processes, an efficient floor plan, and time and motion studies, among others.

In Dubai, Palafox said, the vaccination process is only 15 minutes; in Toronto, it is 30 minutes; and in Arizona, it is 10 seconds in a drive-through vaccination site.

Sadly, here in the Philippines, based on feedback we received, it takes from one to five hours. It took me over an hour in Pasig’s mega parking building.

Apa Ongpin complained on Facebook that it took him five hours to get vaccinated in Pasig’s vax center hosted by Medical City. Here is Apa’s account:

It was “a five-hour ordeal, half of it in the sun, then through the lobby, and then leading into the building (with no air circulation, thus increasing our chances of getting infected by a factor of hundreds), then out again, in an absurd accordion where we retraced our steps.

“It was the most agonizing sort of queuing, where you’re either forced to stand for hours, and then shuffle two steps at unpredictable intervals, or, when you can sit, move one chair over. Many people in the queue were seniors, some of whom could not walk unassisted; they were provided with monobloc chairs, but had to get up and walk and reposition said chairs every so often.”

So, why is a minor bureaucrat trying to stop a plan to civilize our vaccination process?

She made a big fuss about 500 trees being cut from a supposed forest in the Nayong Pilipino site. That’s not true.

As Galvez observed, those are just ipil ipil trees. Vegetation there is obviously a result of neglect of the property.

Business Mirror published a photo from Google Earth showing the exact location of the proposed mega vaccination center on a vacant lot with rambling overgrowth of weeds and grass, not a forest, in the background.

This will not be the only large facility needed.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno got the agreement of the National Parks Development Committee and the National Historical Commission to use the Luneta Grandstand and Rizal Park for a facility to house mild and moderate patients, as well as a drive through vax center. The structures are now being built.

The NPF’s executive director has been delaying the signing of a MOA as she keeps changing her mind on who she wants to sign with… the NTF, IATF, DND and DOH.

Wondering what was taking it so long (proposed last March), Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued an order to the NPF Board to allow the DOH and NTF to use the NPF property for COVID-19 intervention measures. The board ignored Medialdea.

Razon, in an interview with Karen Davila on ANC, wondered if they interrupted any deal.

It will be recalled that President Duterte fired the entire board of NPF in August 2018 for entering into a contract with a Hong Kong gaming resort developer, Landing International, that was deemed grossly disadvantageous to the government.

There is also a casino contract with Megaworld/ Resorts World for the NPF site questioned by COA. A substantial downpayment for rental has been paid to NPF. The case is now with DOJ.

The administration should just move quickly on this mega vax facility before Ricky Razon gets pissed and withdraws support.

Galvez says he needs it. If he doesn’t get it, he gets an excuse for failing to achieve his ambitious vaccination target. That’s not in the public interest.

Why can’t Duterte fix this simple problem within his own turf? That it got this far and became a PR problem explains why we are in this mess. Sheer incompetence!



Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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