When the Philippines officially launched the rollout of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) vaccination program early this month, one of the first questions that linger in the minds of many Filipinos is how far will he or she be in the queue to receive the jabs?
This question prompted Kenneth Alambra, a civil engineer graduate from the University of the Philippines–Los Baños (UPLB) and researcher Reina Sagnip of the De La Salle University to jointly develop the Philippine Vaccine Queue Calculator, an online app that will estimate how many people are ahead of you in the queue to get a COVID vaccine in the Philippines. It also predicts how long you might have to wait to get your vaccine doses.
It was learned that Alambra and Sagnip previously created a similar vaccine queue calculator for the United Kingdom under the Omni Calculator Project, which became a huge hit in the country based on the number of views that the app garnered on its social media page.
According to Alambra, the calculation is based on the national priority list released by the Philippine government which was divided into three priority eligible groups: A (1. Frontline health workers; 2. Senior citizens; 3. Persons with comorbidities, 4. Frontline personnel in essential sectors, and indigents); B (Other workers and people with a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 such as teachers, social workers, other government workers, people with disabilities as determined by the DSWD, those deprived of their liberty, and all indigenous people), and C (Remaining Filipino citizens of about 38 million in population.
“It takes into account your age, profession, health condition, and risk factors. The tool then shows you the minimum and the maximum number of people in front of you and a range of dates you might have to wait till you get your shot,” he said.
Alambra noted that if the government’s target is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population by the end of 2021, it would need to administer 1,274,980 doses per week.
“At this rate, I would be in line behind at least 19,672,248 Filipinos who will need a COVID-19 vaccine before me, and my turn would fall within October 3, 2021 – May 29, 2022. I believe my tool’s results can help Filipinos see if the national vaccination plan is being followed,” Alambra said in illustrating where he is situated in the hierarchy of the vaccination priority list.
HOW TO USE THE CALCULATOR
- Enter your age in years. Senior citizens or those 60 years old and above will be called up sooner than younger ones to have the vaccine.
- If you are a “frontline health worker”, you will be prioritized more because you are likely to have a lot of exposure to the virus and need to be protected. Answer yes to this field if you are active in service frontline health work.
- If you have any comorbidities like hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, any cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, stroke, or cancer, to name a few, answer yes to the persons with comorbidities field. However, it would still be best to consult your personal physician before taking the vaccine to ensure your utmost safety.
- Are you classed as a non-health frontline essential personnel falling under A4 priority group or other workers under priority eligible group B? Answer these fields out appropriately.
- The Philippine government also prioritizes people in high-risk areas where the population is highly dense. Please indicate if you are a part of the indigent population as determined by the government, a person with disability, or part of the sociodemographic groups at significantly higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Upon answering the criteria, an estimate of the minimum and the maximum number of people in line to receive the vaccine before you will appear. It will also indicate how long it might be before you get both doses of the vaccine and be fully protected, based on the vaccination rate.
By default, Alambra said they based the figures on a vaccination rate of around 1,274,980 vaccinations a week, a rate that meets the government’s target to vaccinate up to 70 percent of the Philippines’ population within 2021.
He added that they also considered a default uptake rate of 56 percent “because not everyone asked to receive the vaccine will accept it”. This was based on the survey conducted on February 2021 by researchers from the University of Santo Tomas which found that only 56 percent of over 15,600 respondents are willing to get inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines.
Interestingly, these values can be changed in the Rollout of Vaccines section of the calculator.
“We know that waiting to get the vaccine might be frustrating. However, by prioritizing those people who are most at risk of hospitalization and death, we should quickly be able to save lives with this fantastic new weapon against the virus,” Alambra said.