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ROUGH CUTS | Mass vaccination roll-out plan: No simulation exercises in city?




DAVAO City, as far as we knew, was one of the first local government units that announced it was procuring on its own, vaccine against the dreaded Corona Virus.

The City though announced late the start of its negotiation compared to some cities in Metro Manila.

The cities in that metropolitan area disclosed the negotiations they made with the different vaccine manufacturers ahead of Davao City.

It took some time for the City Council to give Mayor Sara the authorization and of course the approval of the budget needed for the purchase.

And finally, over a week ago, the local legislative body gave the mayor the imprimatur.

Thanks to the council whose members acted on the prodding of the city mayor on the matter. The negotiation for the purchase of the vaccine is now done with AstraZeneca. When these will be delivered is, however, another question that is waiting for an answer.

Meanwhile, we have been hearing television reports that some of the cities in Metro Manila and other areas in the country are already conducting simulation exercises for the rollout of the vaccine in their respective localities. The reason they have to undertake simulation exercises is that mass vaccination is one critical response to a major health emergency.

Moreover, the vaccine is also a very sensitive commodity the integrity of which cannot be taken for granted. Thus, it has to be handled with extreme care.

We are somewhat surprised why Davao City has not been talking of plans to conduct similar activities when in terms of area and terrain the city is far more different compared to such cities as Manila, Pasig, Valenzuela, and San Juan. These cities are too small and have a lesser number of people to be vaccinated.

In terms of terrain these places are very accessible and nearer the facilities needed to ensure that the temperature requirement of the vaccine is met.

The people who would be conducting the inoculation activities will not be confronted with distance and rugged roads going to the mountainous area compared to Davao City which has barangays located as far as 80 to 100 kilometers from the downtown area and even one to two hours hike to the nearest health centers or possibly the vaccination site.

Thus, it has been perplexing to note that until last Friday, the last working day of January, we haven’t heard of any announcement that Davao City is scheduling simulation exercises in an effort to have a problem-free mass vaccination start.

It is common knowledge that when certain responses to a major emergency are to be conducted, organizers are always hoping that they could avoid any glitch in the processes, especially when such activities will involve thousands of people in one setting and very sensitive items to be dispensed with like the vaccine against COVID-19.

In the case of Davao City not only that the people do not know when the vaccine is arriving, but they do not also know the processes of its roll-out and where the mass vaccinations will be conducted. This lack of information on such niceties may have some chilling consequences on the people and a possible disastrous effect on the program itself.

Why, because the people may not be guided accordingly where to go and what to do to get themselves inoculated effectively. Therefore, there is a likelihood that many who want to get vaccinated may not get the intervention at all.

Meanwhile, if no such simulation exercises are conducted in the city and the number of those coming for the vaccination is much lower than the volume of vaccine dosage prepared for a particular location, the response effort could end up a number of vaccine vials going to waste.

That is, if the vaccine used will require a continuing below zero temperature for a number of hours, and if exposed to hotter surroundings in so many minutes would end up with doubtful integrity.

Knowing the conditions of the city we believe that doing simulation exercises is a necessity prior to the vaccination program roll-out. It is our take that these exercises will help pinpoint the possible glitch or glitches in the overall process.

For now, we really do not know whether the city’s disaster response and mitigation management unit are already tasked by the honorable mayor to craft a plan for such activities. But with the schedule of the arrival of the city-purchased vaccine still not certain, we feel that doing the simulation exercises may not be too late.

That is, that there may still be time to implement the simulation exercises and revised the process when something is found wanting in any portion of the plan.

Of course, we know Mayor Sara is one hands-on executive who does not want her constituents to suffer the consequences of the ineptitude of some of her people. However, we see it as very important to inform the residents of the city that there are such activities and when these are to be conducted.

All the stakeholders, including the beneficiaries of the mass vaccination program – the population – must know that there are such activities and when. They have to be engaged if the rollout must succeed according to the expectations of the government.


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