‘How far am I in the COVID-19 jab line?’ Filipino-made vaccine queue calculator may have the answer

March 26, 2021 - 1:38 PM
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A health worker prepares to inoculate another health worker with Sinovac Biotech's Coronavac vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Marikina Sports Center, in Marikina City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 2, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global economic recession, has affected every country in the world with more than 2 million casualties, changing the lives of all of us. 📉

In the Philippines, the number of casualties has already exceeded 13,000, not to mention the country’s full-year negative economic growth of -9% in 2020, making it our worst recession after the Second World War.

We all think this virus has been our guest for way too long – but what can we do about it? The most effective way to battle this kind of enemy is to create a vaccine against it.💉

Health workers stage a protest calling for free, safe, and most efficacious coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, as the government kicks off its COVID-19 vaccination campaign with Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccines, outside the Lung Center of the Philippines, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 1, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Multiple companies have been in a race since COVID-19 was discovered to do just that, and some of them eventually succeeded.

Since there are around 110 million people in the Philippines, not everybody can get vaccinated immediately. It raises a whole load of new questions:

  • Who will be first in the queue to get the vaccine?
  • When are you likely to be offered it?
  • How far are we away from the finish line?
Healthcare workers and other essential workers queue to get coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at San Juan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 23, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

What percentage of people will take the vaccine when they are called to have it? In the Philippines, a survey was conducted and, currently, only around 56% of the respondents think they’ll take the COVID-19 vaccine.

We created this calculator to deliver all the answers to all these crucial questions.

The Vaccine Queue Calculator for the Philippines will estimate for you how many people are ahead of you in the queue to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines. It also predicts how long you might have to wait to get your vaccine doses. Using our tool, you’ll have a better idea of when you can expect to get vaccinated.

We’ve based our vaccine queue calculator on the data provided by The Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines for the priority list and the likely vaccination rate to achieve the government’s target to vaccinate 50-70% of the adult population for the rest of 2021.

Who gets the vaccine first? – The priority list

It’s great that we now have COVID vaccines that have been approved for general use. However, that’s not the end of the COVID story just yet. Millions of doses of vaccines now have to be produced and injected into the arms of people. That is one massive manufacturing, logistical, and time-consuming task for everyone involved. It is all going to take time.

The Philippine government has published a list of priority eligible groups to get the COVID vaccine in the first phases of the rollout. The priority list is divided into 3 groups, A, B, and C. Here is a summary of the list:

Priority Eligible Group A

Healthcare workers and other essential workers queue to get coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at San Juan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, (March 23, 2021. Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)
  1. Frontline health workers, field workers, contract tracers, and barangay health stations (including emergency response teams), and other frontline workers in government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and Bureau of Corrections.
  2. Senior citizens as determined by the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) including senior citizens in the indigent population as identified by DSWD, and senior citizens with comorbidities.
  3. Persons with comorbidities in the age bracket of 18-59 years old. This group of people includes those who have compromised immune systems, people with cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, and cancer, to name some.
  4. Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel working in PNP, AFP, PCG, BFP, and CAFGU and those in working sectors identified by the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as essential during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). These essential workers include but are not limited to those people working in manufacturers of medicines and the like, the agriculture sector, those involved in the logistics and provision of essential goods and services, business process outsourcing, etc. You can refer to the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines for more details about this group.
  5. Remaining indigent population as identified by the DSWD.

Priority Eligible Group B

1-6. Other workers and people with a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 (e.g., teachers, social workers, other government workers, etc.), people with disabilities as determined by the DSWD, those deprived of their liberty, and all indigenous people.

Priority Eligible Group C

Remaining Filipino citizens of about 38 million in population.

Please note that COVID-19 vaccination is still currently not recommended to children under 15 years old. It shouldn’t surprise or raise any doubts, since new drugs are usually tested on adults first. However, with more available studies, these contraindications might change.

Also, some very minor variations from this list can still be observed depending on the presence (or absence) of some specific priority groups of each local government unit (LGU). As the government also declared that the country is implementing a flexible framework, we might also see improvements in the vaccination plans and the priority list.

How to use the vaccine queue calculator for the Philippines?

A view of the Vaccine Queue Calculator for the Philippines (Screenshot via Omnicalculator.com)

Follow these steps to calculate your likely place in the COVID vaccine queue. The first section of the calculator is all about you:

  1. Enter your age in years. Senior citizens or those 60 years old and above will be called up sooner than younger ones to have the vaccine.
  2. However, if you are a “frontline health worker“, you will be prioritized more because you are likely to have a lot of exposure to the virus and need to be protected. Answer yes to this field if you are active in service frontline health work.
  3. If you have any comorbidities like hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, any cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, stroke, or cancer, to name a few, answer yes to the persons with comorbidities field. However, it would still be best to consult your personal physician before taking the vaccine to ensure your utmost safety.
  4. Are you classed as a non-health frontline essential personnel falling under A4 priority group or other workers under priority eligible group B? Answer these fields out appropriately.
  5. The Philippine government also prioritizes people in high-risk areas where the population is highly dense. Please indicate if you are a part of the indigent population as determined by the government, a person with disability, or part of the sociodemographic groups at significantly higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Upon answering these criteria, you will then see an estimate of the minimum and the maximum number of people in line to receive the vaccine before you. We also indicate how long it might be before you get both doses of the vaccine and be fully protected, based on the vaccination rate.

By default, we base these figures on a vaccination rate of around 1,274,980 vaccinations a week. This rate meets the government’s target to vaccinate up to 70% of the Philippines’ population within 2021.

We also considered a default uptake rate of 56% (because not everyone asked to receive the vaccine will accept it). We based this figure on a survey conducted in February 2021.

If you want to change these values, you can do it in the Rollout of vaccines section of the calculator.

If your LGU implements localized scheduling with SMS updates, consider the results in this calculator as supporting information about your probable schedule among the others on the priority list and the entire adult population of the Philippines.

The results in our calculator could also vary to the schedule provided by your LGU due to the possibility of a “no-show” of persons ahead of you.

We know that waiting to get the vaccine might be frustrating. However, by prioritizing those people who are most at risk of hospitalization and death, we should quickly be able to save lives with this fantastic new weapon against the virus.

Last changelog entry: March 24, 2021

Updated the current actual rate of vaccination to the running average vaccination rate of 32,756 individuals vaccinated per day as released by the Department of Health after vaccinating 508,332 individuals in the country as of March 23, 2021.

FAQ

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

A health worker participates in a simulation for COVID-19 vaccination in preparation for its arrival, at an elementary school turned vaccination command center in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 16, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez/File Photo)

COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved and granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines and passed all their safety tests. However, as with any approved drug on the market, you may experience some side effects. Generally, though, the risk of side effects is much smaller than the possible consequences of a nasty COVID-19 infection.

These side effects include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Some people might also have injection site swelling and redness, and nausea. Very rarely people feel unwell and have enlarged lymph nodes.

Nevertheless, the vaccination team in your area is already properly trained to help you relieve some discomfort right after the vaccine’s inoculation.

How many shots of the COVID-19 vaccine will I need?

Vials of AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are pictured in Huelva, Spain March 24, 2021. (Reuters/Marcelo del Pozo/File Photo)

Nearly all COVID-19 vaccines approved or under development need two shots to be effective. The doses need to be around 3 to 12 weeks apart, depending on the vaccine.

Who is making the COVID vaccine?

Sinovac
A man works in a laboratory of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a government-organized media tour in Beijing, China, September 24, 2020. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and are currently being administered and are made by Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca (in partnership with Oxford University). Many other vaccines are in development by companies such as GSK, Moderna, Sinovac, and Johnson & Johnson, to name but a few.

Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?

Certainly not at the moment, but eventually, yes. Pfizer alone plans to produce 1.3 billion doses of its vaccine in 2021. As further vaccines are approved and manufactured, more supply will come on stream to meet the world’s demand.

Do I still need to wear a mask after I am vaccinated?

Image by Mika Baumeister
via Unsplash

Yes. At this stage, it is still unclear whether the current vaccine will also prevent the transmission of the virus to people around you. It is similar to the current situation where people have COVID-19 but suffer no symptoms. However, they are still able to transmit it to others.

It may be only until a good majority of people have been vaccinated that restrictions to our daily lives are lifted, such as needing to wear a face mask.

What percentage needs to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity?

We do not yet know the precise threshold of vaccinated people in the community needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and achieve herd immunity. For flu, experts say the figure is around 70%, so that is the current working theory for COVID-19. Further research and modeling are needed to get a more concrete value.

Can I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant?

Currently, clinical trials have not yet provided data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women. At the same time, there is no information on contraindications to the vaccination during pregnancy.

🤰 The decision to vaccinate should be made by the pregnant woman, after clarification of possible doubts with the doctor.

Can I have a COVID-19 vaccine if I am currently breastfeeding?

Yes. The current advice now allows both the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines to be offered to women while breastfeeding. There is no known risk with giving non-live vaccines to breastfeeding women.

👶 It is also worth noting that there is no need to interrupt or avoid the initiation of breastfeeding by women who have received COVID-19 vaccine.

If I’ve had COVID-19, do I need to be vaccinated?

Yes. If you have had COVID-19, then your body will have some natural immunity to it, preventing you from suffering from it again. However, some early evidence suggests this natural immunity might not last very long. While we also don’t know precisely how long the vaccine’s protection lasts, it could be better than your natural immunity. It will undoubtedly extend the time you are resistant to COVID-19.

Views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author Kenneth Alambra and Reina Sagnip. Alambra is a civil engineer who graduated from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, while Reina Sagnip is a researcher who graduated from De La Salle University. Both of them contribute to the Omni Calculator Project, an initiative that seeks to make science more accessible to the masses. Their tool is based on the national priority plan and vaccine rates released by the Department of Health.