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Inconsistent

Last November, when my minor-aged kids got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine courtesy of their Bacolod-based school, we were so impressed by the smooth and hassle-free experience that I dedicated an article to it.

As much as I would’ve wanted the story to end there, on a high and happy note where the vaccinated live happily ever after, COVID vaccination typically requires 2 shots and in the case of my kids, their second shot was scheduled this week.

The biggest difference between the first and second shots was the venue. While the former was at a mall that had been regularly giving jabs to large numbers of people ever since the nationwide vax drive finally gathered steam; the latter was at the campus that it would turn out, has vastly less experience when it came to organizing such activities.

We came to the vaccination venue expecting to have more or less the same experience as the initial jab so this time we weren’t as prepared for chaos and didn’t even bother to be super early. We figured that coming in when the queue was already moving would be more efficient than being among the first in line which still meant waiting until the activity officially started.

The vaccination was supposed to start 1pm so we arrived at around that time. Not too early, not late, just on time, the way Goldilocks would’ve liked it. When we arrived, there was already a significant queue but it didn’t faze us because previous experience with their efficient ways told us it wouldn’t take too long.

It was around that point that our lesson when it comes to expecting consistency from institutions, both public and private, started.

At first it looked organized because since we were dealing with mostly young students, they were stilled hardwired to line up properly. But as 1pm became 2pm without any progress, it became apparent that the 2nd dose experience was going to be different.

It was a good thing the venue was outdoors, because good ventilation was key to keeping my nerves from unnecessarily fraying while we waited and tried our best to keep safe physical distance as nothing happened. There was some sort of system that kept a loose semblance of order in place, but whatever that system was, it certainly couldn’t qualify as one that was well thought out.

At around 2pm, a voice broke into the Christmas music that was playing and we were informed that the LGU that was to perform the vaccination had arrived late. But rest assured, they had already arrived and we are about to begin.

The officially late start of the vaccination process was welcome but because there was no system in place to make up for the massive backlog of people that had formed by then, what happened next could be best described as mildly chaotic.

It became obvious that this particular public-private partnership didn’t bother coordinating. It seemed that both parties agreed to show up at the venue on the day with both assuming there would be a system in place. I don’t know if the university offers courses in Industrial Engineering but if they do, they could’ve made use of some consultants to come up with a system using applicable theories on time and motion studies. Aside from the utility guys who set up the monoblock chairs, the teachers who served as ushers and health workers who assisted in the jabbing, some industrial engineering would’ve helped massively.

To be fair to the people running the show, although there were tempers flaring (especially from annoyed parents) it wasn’t a terrible mess and we were done by around 4pm. But if a system had been in place, there would have been less trouble because parents wouldn’t have to be constantly on guard, looking to make sure their wards didn’t get overtaken by another group because there was no system to ensure the proper and efficient flow of jabees.

There is a different feeling when you go to an activity and you know that you can trust the system. In this case, we the parents had to be always on guard, watching our kids to make sure they didn’t get lost in the shuffle of madness once the vaccination conga line started. That general feeling of unease and heightened alert among the participants of that vax drive was the total opposite of what we felt during the first jab when we had almost no worries and it didn’t feel like a squabble was going to erupt anytime soon.

At the end of the day, we got to achieve our goal and our kids got their 2nd dose. It wasn’t as pretty as our previous experience but the mission was accomplished. If you come to think of it, had our initial experience been the same, I wouldn’t be commenting on it now. It’s just too bad that the organizers somehow managed to pull of a well-managed vaccination program the last time.

But since I took the time to praise the good jab the last time, then it’s only fair to call out the booboos this time.*

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