The Puerto Rico National Guard insisted this Sunday that has improved its operational logistics in the first regional vaccination center against COVID-19, located in the Pedrín Zorrilla coliseum in San Juan, although to ensure a space, health professionals are still forced to spend the night on the outskirts of the premises from the early hours of the morning, while the number of daily vaccinations is reduced.
“Everything is well organized here (inside), the only thing is that you have to wake up outside. I arrived before 2:00 in the morning, I haven’t slept at all. I think they should improve it, perhaps by citing a school (professional or health organization) or something, because it really is very strong to be out there waiting, ”said Wanda Torres, 55 years old.
The physical therapist spoke with this newspaper while the 15 minutes of corresponding observation elapsed after being vaccinated, around 11:00 in the morning. Today was not the first time that Torres went to the center. Last Thursday she tried, but, although she arrived at 5:00 in the morning the National Guard closed the gates when the space limit was reached that day, before she could enter. “Today I arrived before 2:00 in the morning and I managed to get in,” he said.
On the fourth day of operation at Pedrín Zorrilla, the National Guard continued to make adjustments to its logistics. Last Wednesday, in the middle of the opening of the center, the general assistant José Reyes indicated that they were prepared to vaccinate between 3,000 and 4,000 health professionals. The chaos that was reported during the following hours caused that same afternoon Reyes to adjust that number to 1,000. Today, however, Brigadier General Miguel Méndez indicated that this number was adjusted again, to between 600 and 650 vaccinated per day.
“We made the pertinent adjustments to be able to guarantee the safety of the participants and the providers, with the expectation that we will be opening several centers around the island in the coming weeks,” he said. The new adjustment also responds to a preventive action, taking into account that at some point in the coming weeks there will be two groups going to be vaccinated: those who receive the first dose and those who require the second dose of the vaccine, explained Méndez.
The brigadier general also indicated that the San Juan center is mainly aimed at health professionals from San Juan, Guaynabo, Trujillo Alto, Loíza and Canóvanas, “A region with a high density of health professionals.” But in a simple review of the social networks of the National Guard and the Department of Health, as well as the press releases, it was not found that the call is officially directed to professionals in those municipalities. Nor was that information found on the Health cyber portal.
Among the people who were vaccinated today was Samira Ayala, a 25-year-old veterinary technologist who arrived from Rio Grande, responding to the open call for health professionals. “It is the first day I come,” he told this media, adding that he arrived at the line of vehicles at 2:00 in the morning. This media learned that there were vehicles waiting at least since 11:30 yesterday night.
Méndez acknowledged that the communication from the authorities in charge of the vaccination processes, understand Health and the National Guard, could have been confusing and attributed it to “a mixture of factors.” But in reference to the arrival of hundreds of vehicles that have not been able to be served, he moved away from a problem in communication by stating that what this issue denotes “is the great desire of the population to be vaccinated, I think that is the great message that we have received, that Puerto Rico is ready to be vaccinated and wants to be vaccinated ”.
“I am sure that we can continue to improve in terms of how we pass on information, in terms of how we continue to work the centers. The good news is that thousands of people wanted to come the first day, ”he said.
Until yesterday, 2,250 people had been vaccinated in the first regional vaccination center, to which there would be about 600 today. The National Guard plans to open its next center this week in Caguas, to cover health professionals from twelve municipalities that will be announced. The plan, Méndez said, is to open ten centers across the island in the next two weeks.
It was reported that the Caguas vaccination center will be located in the Fine Arts Center, in Arecibo it will be located in the Manuel “Petaca” Iguina Coliseum, while in Ponce the Salvador Dijols Coliseum is projected as a vaccination center.
Likewise, the brigadier general reported that tomorrow, Monday and Wednesday, about 60 third and fourth year medical students will be trained to provide support in the administration of the vaccine in the centers, while additional first and second year students will be added to assistance tasks.
“In the end we could be around between 80 and 100 students. All these forgiveness are voluntary, ”said Méndez.