The on-site process
Got my first shot of the Sinovac vaccine earlier today at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City. My appointment was for 9am, I arrived on-site a bit before 8:30am. There was a short queue outside, so I waited there for a bit.
At 9am, they called out for anyone booked for 9am and let us inside. They handed us health screening forms and waivers to fill up while we were queued up inside. So many steps!
- initial screening to verify your appointment and categorization (I was under A3 - person with comorbidity) and your QC residence
- vitals check (temp and blood pressure)
- second screening to… review things again?
- third screening to check my patient id against the online registration
- fourth screening to review medical conditions and hand me my vaccination card
- (inside the vaccination room) one more screening to verify registration and some medical things
- finally get the shot!
- after the shot, go to another room for observation
- they take your blood pressure first, then you have to wait for a bit
- every so often someone comes in to give a briefing about possible side effects and what to do for the second dose
- every 20-30 mins, they call out who are the people who are cleared and can already go home
I got the shot a bit before 11am, and was done by 11:30am. All in all about 3 hours for me on site, and I think it’s only because they had to start late? I imagine if your time slot was 11am, it’d be a bit quicker for you.
I’m writing this around 3 hours after I got the shot, feeling fine, no apparent ill effects, though they said to monitor for up to 6 hours after the shot.
Mostly satisfied with how things were handled on-site, mostly because the past few days I’ve heard horror stories about chaos at some of the other sites, mostly because some sites allegedly allowed walk-ins. The staff at Pinyahan were handling things as well as could be expected, although the whole process felt a bit too redundant with all the checks. Here, when someone asked outside if walkins would be accepted, they were told that the doses available for the day were only those allocated for those who had booked online. Also, they did that annoying thing with the queues for people sitting in chairs where every few minutes you’d have to get up and scoot over to the next chair over, until you eventually got to the front of the line.
Online registration and processes
At least the on-site process was a bit better than the online registration, which was kind of a disaster. Basically, early on they said vaccinations would be handled via their Quezon City ID initiative, so people should sign up for that. I applied for mine digitally, while the parents submitted paper forms to the barangay, since someone came around the subdivision surveying seniors who wanted to be registered. My QC ID was approved after a couple of weeks, but up to now still no word on my parents’ QC ID.
Sometime in March, they announced that there would be two ways to get vaccinated: one was to register via the app.ezconsult.io, or if you had a QC ID, you could wait for the LGU/barangay personnel to process the lists and give you an appointment. Second option felt like it might take a while, so I went ahead and created an account for myself on ezconsult. My plan was to create an account for the parents after I’d seen the process, but I wasn’t able to successfully book a vaccine appointment because apparently I had registered too early and the integration hadn’t been enabled yet??
Later on, they announced ezconsult was available for everybody, so I proceeded and was able to book an appointment for april 27th, the earliest I had seen available. Weirdly, when I was searching for vaccination sites, it included sites in other cities like Las Pinas, who I assume also have an arrangement with ezconsult. I also created accounts for the parents and submitted them for review. When filling up the form expressing interest in vaccination, some of the fields still assumed you were a health worker, since this sytem was initially used for the A1 priority groups.
Some people online were reporting problems with the app saying the email was already taken; turns out they had batch imported some QC ID data and auto-created accounts for those people without informing them, so people had to reset passwords (something a nontechnical person wouldn’t think to try!). Since I had created my account before this import, I didn’t have a problem. Then there also were reports of people being able to book vaccination schedules without being one of the currently allowed priority groups; apparently the site doesn’t validate for that. And because Sinovac, the only widely available vaccine in the country, was not advised for seniors, QC government had to advice seniors not to book yet since there were very few stocks of Astra Zeneca for them.
After a while my brother, who had previously registered the same slot as me on the 27th, mentioned he had been able to reschedule to an earlier slot, today at 9am. I was like, how did you do that? When I checked the app I couldn’t see any free time slots available earlier than the 27th. Checking online, a lot of people were reporting there were free slots, while others said they couldn’t see any, so I assume they were doing some kind of manual / batch updates to set free slots, I ended up having to check every few days. It was only last Thursday I was only able to reschedule my appointment to today. And at that time, my parent’s accounts were still under review!
Then last Friday, the ezconsult app was down for most of the day for some reason. (So, I was lucky to rebook right before that!) Lots of complaints from people, of course. By Saturday morning they were back up, and thankfully, I found that my parents accounts’ could now schedule an appointment! Except… there were no slots available again! At this time, the QC government had to send out advisories telling people not to go if they weren’t among the priority groups, as apparently large numbers of such people were causing chaos at some of the sites.
While in the queues earlier, I asked about the availability of AstraZeneca for seniors, but I was told they didn’t have any today and couldn’t say if it would be available until the day itself when they got their deliveries. A few days ago, the FDA had approved Sinovac for seniors, so the few senior citizens in the queues today were getting Sinovac.
After I got my shot, we were told by a doctor in the observation room that the system would send us an automated email about the schedule for the second shot, but we were told to DISREGARD IT and instead come back on the date specified at the back of the vaccination card. So, their automation wasn’t going well.
In the end, I can’t really blame the developers of the app for all the problems, I can only imagine the rapid pace of changing requirements they were subjected to, especially with the flip-flopping on whether seniors could go, or comorbids could go, etc.
Hopefully all of the problems are just growing pains and such, and that the systems and processes get better and clearer as time goes on, since we definitely to ramp up and scale up vaccination in this country! Not to mention, they also need to provide alternative methods of registration/scheduling for non-technical people (probably requires legwork by barangay officials), as right now the process is largely inaccessible to the poorer sectors.