The announcement that they could make an appointment to get the Covid-19 vaccine caused an avalanche of calls to pharmacies and health centers, many of which were left unanswered, either because these places still do not have vaccines or have not organized the plan to immunize the population over 75 years of age.
Similarly, in social networks it was evidenced the desperation of the elderly who could not answer the phone offered by the Department of Health, they did not know the places where they should go and when they can be vaccinated.
José Acarón, state director of AARP in Puerto Rico, an organization that defends the rights of the elderly, acknowledged that there is confusion among people over 65 about when and how to get vaccinated.
“There are people calling sites and they don’t answer. It has created a lot of anxiety because they are calling to coordinate, when they are not ready to do that, “said Acarón.
Faced with this confusion, Acarón contacted the primary health centers, known as 330, and the community pharmacies, two of the places that will be offering vaccination services to those over 75 years of age.
“The 330 centers are going to meet with Health to see how they are going to carry out the vaccination because they are not going to start all at once,” he explained. “That is what is not yet known, how it will be coordinated,” he added.
The Department of Health published information with the telephone numbers and names of the health centers, pharmacies and hospitals that will vaccinate older adults. However, many of the numbers on the list were not working, and other centers still did not have the vaccine. Furthermore, there are still no centers in all the towns.
The director of the Vaccination Plan of the Department of Health, Dr. Iris Cardona, offered a message early on the agency’s social networks to clarify that the vaccination would not begin yesterday.
“We announce a list of facilities with numbers where we invite citizens over 75 years of age to call calmly to set up appointments or shifts where they want to be vaccinated. Not all facilities have vaccines. The distribution is done as it arrives and today (yesterday) it is going to be distributed in an orderly manner, ”Cardona said. “In the same way, you could communicate with the pharmacies that we are going to be publishing as of Monday so that we can have vaccination shifts in an orderly manner,” he said.
Coordinate delivery and distribution
Today, it is expected that there will be a meeting between Salud and the providers to coordinate the delivery and distribution of the vaccines.
Linda Ayala, executive director of the Community Pharmacy Association, reported that in the coming days they will vaccinate their employees and pharmacists and that she hopes to begin vaccinating those over 75 years of age starting Monday in 50 community pharmacies.
“We have 200 certified, but we are going to start with those 50 certified pharmacies and we continue, as the vaccines arrive, we continue,” he explained. “They have been calling, but we hope to start on Monday. Little by little we have been doing the logistics to fulfill the order ”, he added.
Regarding 330 health centers, Dr. Gloria Amador, chief executive of Salud Integral en la Montaña, said that the telephone box of the nine facilities that operate has been ‘on fire’ since it was reported that vaccination would begin.
“The instruction is that we can start to make an appointment and that we take the list of patients over 75 years old as a priority,” he explained. “People have been calling and that painting is ‘on fire’. The information is taken from them because we know that the desperation of the elderly and their children is great. Those who are dying are over 65. We know that there is despair and we know that there is a limitation of the vaccine, but we understand that in February there will be a greater number to be able to vaccinate more people more quickly, ”he said.
He expressed that these centers will be able to vaccinate bedridden patients, as well as those who do not have transportation.
“We have these services to vaccinate at home. Hospice patients at home will be able to do the process. What we hope is to be able to receive more vaccines at the end of this week or the beginning of the next and begin to vaccinate ”, he explained.
He let it be known that starting next Tuesday they will begin to vaccinate teaching and non-teaching staff from public and private schools in the mountainous area together with the National Guard.
“We are going to be managing the vaccination center in Comerío, in the municipal auditorium and we have already begun to coordinate for January 19 to start that project that will take us five months until the last teacher of public and private schools is vaccinated”, he claimed.
The education staff vaccination phase is central to the government’s plans to start classes, initially in a hybrid way, with some days online and others in classrooms.