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Vaccine challenge

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On the morning of November 5, my wife and I got word that the COVID-19 vaccination for minors without comorbidities that we had registered for was already available in Silay City where we reside.  Since we were fortunate enough to live within 200 meters of the vaccination center, we acted quickly to get the numbered forms for our 2 teenaged kids and then prepare the requirements so they could finally be jabbed later in the afternoon.

When we went back to the Natalio G. Velez gym after lunch, hopeful our home would be 100 percent vaccinated by that afternoon, the kids had mixed emotions. Our older son who has a fear of needles was a bit apprehensive while the younger daughter was trying to keep her excitement from being too obvious.

We had hurriedly prepared their required documents but hopefully were able to find copies in the house. Our numbers for the first day of that vax rollout were 284 and 285, which is a good sign for the vaccination program of the city.

When we got there, I made the mistake of photocopying only 1 ID for 2 children. The people checking the documents were helpful so we stepped aside to let others through so we could get another photocopy. We lived nearby so all I had to do was to call our helper to get my ID and make the needed photocopy.

While waiting for the photocopy, which became a little bit difficult to secure because it was a holiday, the document screener person noticed that the birth certificates we submitted were colored photocopies and not originals so they could not allow us to proceed.

Ok, no problem. I left the kids at the site and walked back home to find original NSO birth certificates.

Back home, we only find a few more colored photocopies but no original birth certificates.  Who keeps those kinds of documents in their home anyway? Anyway, I figured that it shouldn’t be a problem, there should be a workaround. So I got their original passports and walked back to the gym.

The friendly and helpful document screener understandably didn’t have the power to offer a solution to our quandary and since she could see we really wanted to get our shots, she told me to talk to the doctor in charge of the operation. No problem, I thought to myself.

Well it turns out that the lady doctor in charge that afternoon wasn’t interested in helping or coming up with solutions. When I presented my problem, she didn’t even bother looking at the documents. She simply turned her laptop around and showed me the page outlining the requirements I needed to submit to get my kids jabbed. There we were, long-time residents of the barangay who were willing to be vaxxed with copies of the required documents, willing to discuss any workaround to what should be a minor problem, but all doctora did was make me read from her laptop.

Her demeanor made my heart sink because it was clear there was no way she in the mood to help. She was probably just there to earn her daily pay for manning the area.

I wasn’t asking to be exempted from the rules. If they wanted original NSO documents, we can get those docs and submit after but since we were already there, couldn’t they jab the kids and accept the original documents after a couple of days, or when we come back for the 2nd dose?

What if I didn’t live nearby and came all the way from a remote barangay? Would I still make the trip back to have my kids jabbed after being turned away? What would’ve happened to me if I was a poor and illiterate person? I can only imagine how much more worse the treatment could’ve been.

Furthermore, it’s a good thing I’m not the vaccine hesitant type because if I were having second thoughts about vaccination, being made to go through unnecessary hoops by people with such sour dispositions could be enough reason not to try again.

What is the goal of the global vaccination program? Is it to make sure people have the original documents from the NSO or is it herd immunity for the protection of the entire community? Of all people, a doctor should know the answer to that question. I guess my kids and I were just unfortunate to have encountered a clerk-minded doctor that day.

We shouldn’t make it more difficult to fully vaccinate as many people in our communities than it already is. If a person is already there at the site, waiting to be jabbed, don’t send them home anymore. Make them come back with the incomplete requirements if necessary but sending them away is simply a bad idea when we are in a desperate race to achieve herd immunity and protect the entire population.

I’ll come back with the original NSO birth certificates because the gym is just a stone’s throw away and I am neither an anti-vaxxer nor vaccine hesitant. I can’t say the same for the rest of the people that were turned away that day.*


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September 2023

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