The first dose vaccination at a mall in Manila was cancelled on Thursday, Aug. 5, after an “unusually high” number of individuals flocked to the site in the hope of getting their COVID jab.
The Manila Public Information Office (Manila City PIO) announced the cancellation of the first dose vaccination at SM San Lazaro at past 6 a.m. on Thursday.
The PIO said the cancellation was done to assure the safety and security of individuals who lined up at the mall, some as early as midnight, for vaccination.
Aside from SM San Lazaro, Manila’s other vaccination sites such as SM Manila, Robinsons Place Manila, and Lucky Chinatown Mall also saw a similar deluge of people who want to be vaccinated.
Lines for vaccination in the three malls were limited to just 2,500 doses or persons per mall at 3:38 a.m. on Thursday.
Capt. Philipp Ines from the Manila Police District (MPD) PIO told the Manila Bulletin that the crowd at SM San Lazaro was estimated at 10,000.
In SM Manila, there were more than 5,000; 3,000 or more in Lucky Chinatown, and 4,000 plus in Robinsons Manila.
Ines said mall vaccination sites were flocked because many were scared over fake news that those who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to go outside their homes.
Ines also advised the public to refrain from going to vaccination sites if it’s not yet their schedule to avoid overcrowding.
Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan said people started to flock to the sites at around 2 a.m.
Many of those who lined up for the July 25 vaccination were non-residents coming from Laguna and Cavite, according to the vice mayor.
The Manila PIO said there were also individuals from Bulacan and Rizal.
Meanwhile, MPD investigators said that there were people who came “in groups” and “in vans.”
Pangan said many also had no QR code or did not register at Manila’s vaccination website prior to going to the site.
“Open policy kami sa Manila, nagulat lang kami na biglang dumagsa ang mga tao ngayon araw. As much as possibe, gusto namin yakapin ang lahat para mabakunan, taga Maynila man o hindi (We have an open policy here in Manila, we were shocked to see the number of people who flocked to the sites today. As much as possible, we want to embrace everyone and get them vaccinated, whether they’re from Manila or not),” Pangan told DZMM Teleradyo in an interview.
The Manila PIO, meanwhile, clarified that people who lined up were informed of the cut-off.
“May mga tao tayong inatasan para sabihan ang mga tao kung cut-off na. Pero nagpumilit silang pumila (We have assigned people to advise the people on the cut-off. But the people insisted on lining up),” Manila PIO Chief Julius Leonen told reporters in a viber message.
Leonen also dismissed reports that the vaccines deployed in the malls on July 25 were Moderna which some netizens thought was the reason why the sites were flocked.
Many of those who lined up to get their COVID jabs expressed dismay over the disorganized vaccination in malls.
Facebook user Da Ya Na said the line for vaccination in SM Manila already reached Quiapo around 12 a.m.,
“Di na umusad tapos sasabihin di na daw kami abot sa 2500 dahil may mga senior na sakop (The line didn’t move at all. We were told that we didn’t make the 2,500 cut off),” she commented under Manila PIO’s Facebook post.
Many netizens also posted photos of long lines on sites as early as 3 a.m.
Manilenos also urged the local government to prioritize them for vaccination since the city vaccinates even non-residents.
“Hindi kasi magkakaganyan kung uunahin yung residente ng Maynila. Palagi kasing naga-aannounce na lahat pwede magpabakuna sa Maynila. Wag kunin yung responsibilidad ng ibang lungsod sa nasasakupan nila kung hindi kaya (This won’t happen if Manila residents were prioritized.
The local government had been announcing that everyone can get vaccinated in Manila. Don’t take the responsibility of other cities that can’t handle the vaccination of their own constituents),” Michael Dela Cruz Sanchez wrote.
Others also urged the local government to just bring the scheduling system back.
The last first dose vaccination conducted in malls was on July 25 for A1 to A5 priority groups.