Walk-in vs appointment: Concerns amid long lines in Manila COVID-19 jab sites

June 17, 2021 - 6:09 PM
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Manila residents
Locals in the city of Manila waiting for their turn to be vaccinated in this photo taken by the Manila PIO at around 4:30 a.m. (Photo from Manila Public Information Office via Facebook)

Some Manila residents are calling on the city government to implement a more efficient vaccination system for Filipinos after pictures of some locals lining up as early as dawn circulated online.

A photo of Filipinos waiting for their turn to be vaccinated in SM Manila was shared by the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) on its Facebook page on Wednesday.

“NOW: Mall personnel accommodate patients who are lining up at SM Manila to receive their COVID-19 vaccines today. Photos taken at around 4:30 am,” the caption read.

It made its way to the Philippine community of Reddit where an online user criticized the city’s vaccine rollout system by highlighting the time when the photo was taken.

May mali na nga sa sistema, pinagmamalaki pa from Philippines

Similar comments were also seen under the Facebook post of the Manila PIO where some Filipinos questioned the time of the COVID-19 vaccination queue.

“Manila Public Information Office and you are okay with this? Are you even proud of posting this on your page? Poor Manileños lining up as early as 4:30 a.m. (probably went to the mall much earlier) to get vaccinated? This is really disappointing,” an online user wrote.

“So proud pa kayo Manila LGU to see people there at 4:30 AM? Something is very wrong with your system. If you cannot realize the pain that people have to go through, you are either blind or insensitive to the plight of the people. If you see that there is too much demand, then you should do this by appointment,” another online user said.

“We can do better. Lining up people as early as 2 AM and putting them (in) closed spaces like a cinema is dangerous. How do you check if someone is ready to get the vaccine if puyat ‘yung tao. May magulang at pamilya din kayo, makita niyo sila makatulog sa upuan, maawa din kayo. Don’t wait na mayroon mag-collapse na tao dahil sa puyat at pagod,” commented a different Filipino.

There were those who suggested that the city government should set up an appointment system so that the crowd could be more regulated. They said this system would prevent instances of vaccinees lining up repeatedly when they are not able to make it to the cut based on the number of doses available.

“Sana kasi tine-text niyo lang (‘yung) kayang mabakunahan,” a Filipino commented.

“Pls. make it by appointment (especially) to seniors…” another social media user wrote.

“Dapat sa registration QR code pa lang, may number na. Tapos kasama sa schedule ‘yung range ng numbers na babakunahan for specific date, hindi ‘yung ganyan. Walang sense registration if first-come, first-serve basis sa actual vaccination day,” shared a different Facebook user.

In Manila, one needs to register online to obtain a QR Code and a waiver form in order to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The individual will then wait for announcements on vaccine distribution to be posted by the Manila PIO.

It is subjected on a first-come, first-serve basis where there is no specific schedule assigned to individuals.

Why Manila gov’t follows COVID-19 vaccination walk-in system

In a message to reporters, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said that there are times certain people would not attend during their scheduled COVID-19 vaccination date.

“Walang tamang dumadating, remember ‘yan ang (problema) dati,” he wrote.

“Kawawa naman ‘yung gusto pero hindi naka-appointment. Tapos 20% lang ang dumadating sa schedule,” Moreno added.

He said that if the supply of COVID-19 vaccines increase, the current system can be modified or changed.

“Ang dami nila choices na area as posted regularly sa FB (Facebook). Gusto kasi nila sa mall lahat. Pero ‘yung 18 sites sa school, available naman from time to time. And we do (extend) five hours a day kapag may vaccines. Start at 6 a.m. up to 8 p.m.,” the city chief said.

“May iba nga na lugar sa metro wala tao eh, kasi appointment system. Dami ‘di pumupunta sa stated schedule. Kawawa naman ‘yung gusto na magpabakuna, hindi ba unfair ‘yun?” Moreno added.

He appealed for patience and understanding, reiterating that the need to vaccinate as many people as possible against the viral disease remains a priority.

“At the end of the day, kapag may bakuna dumating sa Maynila, ubos agad kasi dapat efficient and fast vaccination to reach as many as possible and as soon as possible. We cannot wait and wait for some individuals at the expense of others or (the) general population,” Moreno said, referring to those who don’t go to their scheduled vaccination dates in the past.

“That is what matters most for everyone. Kaya nga sabi ko sa national (government), just give us the vaccine, will deploy it ASAP. We understand mahaba pila with that policy, but rest assured kapag marami vaccine available, will do more sites. Para mayakap lahat ASAP,” he added.

“It is the policy of the city akapin ang kayang akapin ASAP, it’s a universal problem. We have to approach it inclusively,” Moreno further said, referring to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

Manila is not the only local government unit that allows walk-in for vaccination in the metro.

Reports cited the cities of Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Navotas and Pateros as also letting those who want to be vaccinated receive a COVID-19 jab, provided that they fall under the priority groups that were already allowed by the government to be inoculated.