The third day of vaccinations against COVID-19 within the Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseito facilities passed with order and agility with a call by the Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR) for people to be patient and wait their turn to be able to receive the vaccine against the dangerous coronavirus.
Although there were lines of vehicles waiting outside the sports complex where the coliseito is located, it was not like the chaos of the first days. As expected after the GNPR set a limit of 600 vaccinations per day, not all vehicles could enter and there were people who were directed to return another day.
Inside, the National Guard personnel ran the process in an orderly manner (from the parking lots, through the reception area and vaccination tables, until ending in the 15-minute waiting area to monitor if any adverse reaction occurred), with the help of police and emergency medical paramedics.
Colonel Carlos Giovanni Torres Febus took advantage of the presence of Primera Hora to ask people for patience and confidence in the vaccination process, in order to avoid unnecessary crowding of vehicles and people. He assured that there is a sufficient and continuous supply of vaccines, and that soon more vaccination centers would be opening throughout the Island.
“We had our difficulties the first day. A situation was created and the National Guard reacted to it. We closed the gates, we entered all the people that we could accommodate in the parking lot and the commitment we made was that everyone who was inside was going to be vaccinated. And so we did. That day we ended up vaccinating 1,255 people. We finished at 11:00 at night. But since the problem had been created, we took over and were able to solve it, ”Torres explained about the situation on the first day.
He added later it was determined that only up to 600 people would be vaccinated a day, and the rest would be notified that they had reached the limit, “because we have human personnel, who are here vaccinating, and need rest, take some ‘breaks’, and he will need days off in the future, because if not, our staff will burn out ”.
He recalled that the critical personnel for vaccination, “is limited, they are our combat doctors” and took the opportunity to make a call to doctors, nurses and other qualified personnel related to the medical profession to approach the GNPR and be certified and participate in the vaccination effort and that way “much more can be done.”
He anticipated that next week they will train third and fourth year medical students at Zorrilla, on Monday and Tuesday, and they could join work on Wednesday, with the idea of increasing daily vaccinations to between 700 and 800.
On the other hand, next Tuesday they also hope to open another vaccination center in Caguas, where another 600 people would be vaccinated per day.
Meanwhile, the colonel explained, they are already working to open centers in Arecibo, Ponce and Mayagüez. The center in Arecibo could open by next week. In Ponce, plans are to start on January 11 and in Mayagüez they will inspect two places to determine if they are suitable for the vaccination center and then begin the logistics.
“It is extremely important that people understand that we are working on phase 1A, which is the health personnel and professionals. Let them know that consequently we will be opening phase 1B, which will cover essential personnel and front-line workers. And that same phase 1B we will be covering personnel over 75 years of age. Then in 1C we are going to cover people aged 65 or over. And in the future, when we open phase 2, we will take the general population, ”Torres explained about the stages of the vaccination plan.
In phase 1A, it is estimated that up to 205,000 people who are health professionals or work in that industry would be vaccinated in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, medical offices and the like. After receiving their first dose, the information is entered into the Immunization Information System (IIS), and the person receives the date for their second dose. In addition, you receive a notification by email or your cell phone, to remind you of the appointment of the second dose.
“It is extremely important that people understand that we are going to have to vaccinate at least 2.2 million Puerto Ricans to acquire herd immunity. This will be extended, according to our estimates, until July or August (2021) ”, added Torres.
The GNPR official reiterated the call for collaboration by medical centers and hospitals to reach this goal of mass immunization.
“It is extremely important that health professionals who have the capacity, who have centers, clinics, that the CDTs (Diagnosis and Treatment Center), the hospitals, fill out the documentation with the Department of Health to become providers. Because the more hands we have out there giving vaccines, the faster we can end this pandemic, “he said.
The colonel also stressed that there should be no concern about a lack of vaccines because “there is a constant flow of vaccines”, both from Pfizer and Moderna, and it is also expected that the supply of vaccines will increase at the beginning of the year and that other pharmaceutical companies may also enter with their vaccines to be part of the effort.
“The vaccine is not going to end. We are going to be able to cover people in their first dose, we are going to plan to cover them in their second dose, “he said.
“So, to the people of Puerto Rico, congratulations. Be patient. Know that the vaccination centers are going to increase to take the 11 regions throughout the Island. Work is being done on the process to increase the providers. Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens will also continue to increase vaccination centers. And by mid-summer we hope, with God’s help, to have vaccinated the 2.2 million Puerto Ricans that need to be vaccinated, ”Torres insisted.
“11 centers are going to be opened regionally. What do we mean by this? That we would expect this center, which is from the San Juan region, to come from the San Juan region. We ask the public not to jump from Cabo Rojo to here, not to jump from Moca to here. Wait for the center to come closer to you and you will be served. There is no need to violate the curfew, to be in the street, to expose yourself to arrive here at 2:00 am, when consequently the center will reach your area. Have a little patience, we are going to reach your area, ”the colonel reiterated.
At the moment, some 2,480 people have already received the vaccine in the three days that have been carried out in Pedrín Zorrilla. According to Torres, none of them have shown an allergic or adverse reaction to the vaccine during the waiting period of 15 minutes after the injection.