Vax process needs improvement

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2021 - 12:00am

Beyond the need for more vax centers, DOH and LGUs must improve the process they are currently using. If not, people will be discouraged to take their shots or be more exposed to infection while trying to get protected.

It took me more than an hour to get my shots, both times, at the Pasig Mega parking. That could have easily been done in 15 to 30 minutes.

For one thing, I already answered all the questions about my health when I registered online, but I had to do it all again on paper. The questions were also repetitive, and they asked me the same questions in the interview. Given that I was pre-registered, I should have been in and out in a jiffy.

Pasig will say they are just following DOH protocols. Then, DOH should make it easier to get vaccinated so they can vaccinate more people. My friend Apa Ongpin, who had his shots at Medical City in Pasig, describes his ordeal:

“I arrived at 2 p.m. and got a needle in my arm at 6:45 p.m., then had to wait a statutory 15 minutes to see if I would pass out or break out in a rash, then another 10 minutes when they couldn’t find my vaccination record card – which maybe they should have given me right away when they pulled the needle out.

“The other thing you could consider is making the process simpler and less bureaucratic. I was made to show my QR-code Pasig Pass four times during the process – why?

“I was made to fill out four consent forms, each of them with redundant information, name, address, age, and all the same questions. When I pointed this out to the girl who gave me the forms, she said, ‘Ganoon ho talaga. Ito kasi, City of Pasig, ito, TMC, ito, DOH. Paki-sign na lang.’

“Don’t you guys talk to each other? You can’t share information?”

Here is the experience of another friend, Vince Pozon in Paranaque:

“I was watching the LGU people all the time and they were all smiles, trying to herd a gaggle of the geriatric through the several stages Fr. Nicanor Austriaco thinks is unnecessary. I’m sure they’re bruised at the end of the day.

“It’s been more than two hours; there were two temperature measurements, a blood pressure check, an interview that duplicates what you wrote on the thin form, which you had difficulty doing because you were either standing or seated with nothing to write on.

“When you get into the mall, you advance by moving to the next chair and the next, so you are making contact with every seat in your row.

“If you think it’s hot these days, you’ve got another think coming. Try standing in a parking lot, with the heat radiating from Macapagal Avenue.

“The city to grow old and grey in is Makati. They treat you much better. A friend just commented on the same adventure:

“‘Buti na lang, di kami ganyan sa Makati. Nung sabi kong senior na ako, buhos ang asikaso. Dali-daling may silyang lalabas kung lahat ng silya ay may nakaupo na.’”

I don’t know how it will be with the mega vax center that Ricky Razon is building. I got the impression that the ICTSI Foundation will also manage it. But it will have to follow DOH protocols.

This is why DOH must make the process simpler and faster. If getting vaccinated is like lining up for ayuda, more people will hesitate to get the jabs.

Pulse Asia, in a recent survey, found out that six in 10 Filipinos don’t want to get vaccinated against COVID-19… only 16 percent of respondents would have themselves vaccinated.

The survey, conducted from Feb. 22 to March 3, showed that the greatest number of respondents, at 61 percent, would say “no” to getting inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine if the shot was available during the polling period.

This is an increase from the previous Pulse Asia survey released in January 2021, when 47 percent of Filipinos said they were unwilling to get vaccinated if a COVID-19 shot was available.

Efficiency in administering the vaccine is possible, as we have seen in the US. It is not because they are a rich country. The resources they are using are available to us too, essentially IT processes and common sense.

In the United States, it is very simple. My friend Butch Garcia (son of a former health secretary) in Palo Alto said it took him 15 minutes in line because he was early, another 10 minutes for the shot and the mandatory 15-minute wait to see if you get an adverse reaction.

The clinic that Butch goes to, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, arranged to have their members get their shots in the county fairgrounds. But, he said, you can even just go to a drugstore anytime for it and for free.

My son in Singapore said he got his shots in 10 minutes after filling up a form and a brief interview.

In Arizona, it is 10 seconds in a drive-through vaccination site. Razon suggested to Karen Davila this drive-through vax system was their inspiration.

DOH bureaucrats must realize a long and tedious process is unnecessary. It only exposes people more to potential infection in our poorly ventilated vax centers. Not even the malls are that safe.

Infectious disease specialists think vaccination centers should not be enclosed and are better without air-conditioning. Outdoor sites with sheds are better because they have more natural light and ventilation. Current vax centers must be re-evaluated in terms of ventilation.

Actually, they should take up the offer of the Catholic bishops to allow the use of churches and churchyards. The high ceilings of churches certainly provide better protection through better ventilation than the parking building they are using in Pasig. A big tent with no walls would be better than some vax centers now.

We are learning more and more each day how to deal with this virus and good ventilation is the latest. It would be tragic if we do not apply new learnings in our continuing effort to protect our people in this pandemic.



Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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