I belong to the A3 priority category, so I have already received two shots of Sinovac’s Coronavac spaced four weeks apart. With that said, let me tell you about my COVID-19 vaccine experience.
The process is quite simple and straightforward, and I am so happy that the Department of Health modified the vaccination process to include fully informed consent.
Let me explain how it works, based on my own experience.
STEP 1: You will enter a room where health workers will take your blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels to check if your body is ready to receive the vaccine. If both are within acceptable limits, you proceed to the second step. No needles are involved in this step.
STEP 2: You will enter the next room, where you will receive counseling about the benefits and risks associated with the vaccine. A health worker will give a rundown of the vaccine’s benefits and potential side effects, and she will answer any questions you may have. If you have doubts about the vaccine, this is the time to ask. No needles are involved in this step.
STEP 3: You will enter another room where the actual vaccination will take place. The process takes only a few seconds, so those who fear needles shouldn’t worry too much. After receiving the dose, you will be sent to an encoding area to get your vaccination card. The card will contain your personal details, the date of vaccination, the brand of vaccine used, and the name of the health worker who administered the vaccine.
STEP 4: This is the last step. You will enter another room where health workers will (again) take your blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels. You will be made to wait for about half an hour so you can have access to instant medical care in case you show any serious reaction to the vaccine. Otherwise, it’s time to go home. No needles in this step.
The whole process, from steps 1 to 4 plus all the queueing involved, takes around two hours. I know it’s a bit time-consuming, but it’s all worth it because, unlike before, the new protocol allows you to give fully informed consent.
Now, here are some random tips for a hassle-free vaccination:
First, bring a pen: You will answer a few forms, and it’s safer and more convenient if you have a pen with you. If possible, bring a portable fan because it’s still summer and it can get really hot outdoors.
Second, keep the vaccination card. The card is proof that you got the dose, and you will need it for the second dose, typically administered a month after you received the first. Also, the vaccination card will likely be the basis for a vaccination passport in the future, allowing you to travel more freely both locally and abroad. Note that the mechanism for issuing such a vaccination passport is still in the works, so we have to wait for that one.
Third, get the second dose. I cannot stress this hard enough because the second dose will give you long-term protection against severe COVID-19. Do not skip your second dose.
Fourth, do not hesitate to ask. All the health workers I encountered have been very friendly and accommodating, and they’re more than willing to address any of your concerns regarding the vaccine and the vaccination process.
Fifth, the side effects. I felt a little dizzy a few minutes after the first shot, but not to a point where I can’t walk or anything like that. After getting the second shot, I felt some soreness in the muscles surrounding the injection site, but the pain was really mild (like really, really mild), and it went away after 24 hours.
All in all, I am thrilled with the Department of Health’s performance in the vaccination site. You know, it’s nice to see health workers who look like they like their jobs, and that’s what I saw in the vaccination center. As I observed other vaccine recipients, I can see that the friendliness of the DOH staff helped a lot in calming everyone down.
Yes, I agree that DOH still has to do much work regarding vaccine-related public information campaigns. And as a way to thank DOH for doing their jobs a lot better than I expected, I decided to devote this column on the topic, not only to help inform the public about the COVID-19 vaccination process, but also as a big “Thank you!” to our frontliners who, despite the protracted battle against COVID-19, remain dedicated to serve the Filipino People.
Good job on this one, Secretary Duque.
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