A new vaccination center against COVID-19 began operating this morning at the Rubén Rodríguez Coliseum in Bayamón, as part of the mass vaccination effort against the dangerous coronavirus led by the Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR).
This new regional vaccination center joins those that are already operating in the Pedrín Zorrilla de San Juan Coliseito, in the Caguas Fine Arts Center, in the Salvador Dijols de Ponce indoor court, the Mayagüez Sports Palace and the Manuel “Petaca” Iguina Coliseum in Arecibo, as explained by General José Reyes, adjutant general of the National Guard.
For now, they are only vaccinating personnel working in the health industry, which is Phase 1A. The centers are operating from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. On Saturdays they are only treating doctors and dentists.
The general assured that the vaccination process, which he hopes to vaccinate up to 80% of the population by mid-year, is going quite well, although it has aspects that he wants to improve.
Meanwhile, he announced that on January 11 and 12 they would be in Culebra to vaccinate all the people of Phase 1, which includes, in addition to the personnel working in the health area, people over 65 years of age and the personnel of first response (police, emergency management, firefighters). From January 13 to 16, the GNPR will be in Vieques to vaccinate all those in Phase 1.
On the other hand, today and tomorrow they would hold meetings with mayors of the Association of Mayors and the Federation of Mayors, to identify the places where vaccination centers will be installed for the personnel of the Department of Education (DE), which is expected to begin on Monday 18 from January. Reyes said that they will open seven vaccination centers, one for each educational region, to vaccinate the nearly 43,000 employees of the DE.
According to Reyes, on the big island they expect to start Phase 1B (over 65s and first responders), “sometime between January 15 and 18”.
“It is estimated that there are about 200,000 people in what is stage 1A, about 160,000 health professionals, and about 40,000 people in homes for the elderly and in aegis. We must reach that 70% (of vaccinated) sometime in mid-January, from 15 to 18. That opens the door for us to start with stage 1B. There you have all the people over 65 who do not reside in homes and aegis. That is going to be impacting through community pharmacies, CVS, Walgreens, and should be opening sometime between January 15-18. And what are the first responders, the police, emergency management, medical emergencies, 9-1-1, we must be starting on the same date in the National Guard vaccination centers, ”Reyes explained.
The general said that the GNPR plans to open a total of 11 vaccination centers throughout the island, but that it would be done as the supply of vaccines increases. In addition to the six that are already operating and serving between 3,000 and 3,500 people a day, they would open centers in Humacao, Fajardo, Barranquitas and Guayama, as well as a center to serve federal agency personnel that will operate in a building on Avenida Chardón.
Reyes commented that the vaccine supply “is within what we expected.” He explained that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adjusted the quantities that will be sent to all states and territories, with which Puerto Rico receives some 40,000 first doses of the vaccine. That number would increase as the second doses are distributed. In addition, other vaccines are expected to enter distribution, including some single-dose.
“It is a process that is going to increase. At any given time, more than 100,000 weekly vaccines should be arriving in Puerto ”, estimated the general.
“Our expectations and our goals remain the same. At the rate that it is developing, (vaccination) we must be reaching that 80 to 85% (of vaccinated people) sometime between July and August of this current year, ”he said.
Reyes commented that they continue to work on a technological tool that allows people to request their space for vaccination in the nearest vaccination center, so that unnecessary lines and crowds are avoided.
For Phase 2, which is expected to begin “late February or early March,” some 240 community pharmacies are expected to join the vaccination effort, including CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, 65 hospitals, as well as churches. and municipal facilities, to add some 500 vaccination centers throughout the Island.
“There are always areas for improvement. In data entry we have had some situations. The goal is that you do the data entry in less than 24 hours, because that generates the second vaccine. We have to reinforce that area, ”Reyes said, explaining that if the data is not entered within 24 hours, the shipment of the second dose can be delayed.
The general said that about 130,000 vaccines have reached Puerto Rico so far, of which about 110,000 have been distributed. Of that total, some 80,000 vaccines have already been administered, in their first dose. In addition, some 18,000 vaccines in their second dose have already been administered in hospitals.