Is it possible to get enough people in the general population vaccinated to reduce the emergence of new cases and cut new hospital admissions and deaths? That may be possible if we plan and execute well starting in June and through to December this year. We’ll need to execute well along several fronts and be agile enough to make adjustments as the needs arise.
Over the last month and a half, a group in the private sector working through Task Force T3 has worked closely with the government’s Vaccine Cluster to map out such a plan. These are the key elements.
Target-setting. The basic target is 70 percent of the total population of a city by end-November. This target considers persons below 18 years of age as potential spreaders and thus counts the entire population.
Supply. The critical piece of the plan is, of course, vaccine supply. That’s been tight in the early going from March to May but should pick up significantly starting June. The country received 8 million doses in the last three months, but that should pick up to 8.25 to 12 million doses in June alone and more per month from July onwards. The country should receive almost 200 million doses in 2021 in a combination of government, private-procured, and donated vaccines. The challenge here is that delivery dates shift from time to time; shipments can get delayed.
Vaccination rates. Jab rates can be established on a per-day basis depending on population and a target date (e.g., 180 days from June 1 to Nov. 28). For example, Metro Manila should do 110,000 vaccinations per day, prorated across the 17 cities’ populations. Since people are very mobile, it doesn’t make sense to meet the target in some cities but miss it in others. It must be met across the metropolitan area. Same goes for other metropolitan cities and provinces.
Is it possible to improve vaccination rates? Yes. In April, the national average was roughly 45,000 per day. In the last week, it’s been moving closer to 200,000 per day.
Vaccination sites. In order to hit the daily jab rate target, mayors have already figured out what combination of sites they need in their cities. Many have opted for a combination of “mega” sites and regular sites. Other mayors have added “pop-up” sites or have gone door-to-door for the elderly. Whatever combination gets to the target number works to bring protection for all. Aside from partnering with private hospitals to provide sites and services, cities can also connect with mall operators to set up sites.
Manpower. Staffing will depend on the types of sites set up. Mega sites require more staff but are also generally more efficient in terms of throughput. Staff are divided into two types: medical and non-medical. Cities will need to carefully count how many they need of each and how to schedule their shifts. The more sites, the more staff needed. Some cities may run short of staff, so assistance will be needed by partnering with private hospitals which can provide both site and staff. Alternatively, volunteers can be recruited from professional medical societies, businesses, and civic organizations.
Productivity. Productivity will be measured in jabs per man-hour. The ideal rate is between 1.3 and 1.5 jabs per man-hour of clinical staff. Note again that mega sites tend to have higher productivity rates than small sites. It will become important for sites to manage their pace and process to make sure things don’t bottleneck inside a site.
Database. The final important factor is creating and maintaining a database of persons to be vaccinated. All the preparation is of little use if people do not show up. We’ve noticed “no-shows” for various reasonsʍ vaccine hesitancy, failure or inability to use technology to register, no reminders, etc. Whatever the reasons, it’s important to build up a database of vaccinees and schedule their appointments.
For a population protection strategy to succeed, it will need good execution across these six aspects. It may sound difficult, but it is doable. We can’t afford to fail.
Guillermo M. Luz is chief resilience officer of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation.
Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club ([email protected]).
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