It’s been three days since the COVID-19 vaccines were distributed among our manamko but it hasn’t been without a few challenges along the way.
Though there is still some miscommunication and confusion, the Department of Public Health and Social Services is doing its very best to make sure that Guam’s elderly will still continue to be vaccinated.
After the first day of the vaccine distribution, DPHSS decided to waive the pre-registration requirement because they wanted to be able to service as many of the manamkos as much as possible, even extending the distribution to Thursday.
After waiving that requirement, on Tuesday they had an unexpected mass turnout.
“Yesterday, we just had a line outside. Nearing GRMC, we counted almost 900 individuals waiting in line. We weren’t prepared … we weren’t anticipating that large of a turn out,” DPHSS spokeswoman Janela Carrera said.
Public Health made changes in order to accommodate the next large number of recipients, which included canopies set up outside of the school grounds, extra chairs provided by the Dededo mayor’s office, and the adjustment of rotations inside the clinic.
However, despite the changes, some were still not satisfied with the services. Dededo resident Maria Petros and her mother were among them.
She was one of the many turned away on Tuesday even though she pre-registered with the Dededo mayor’s office.
Petros came back on Wednesday and felt that they were given the same treatment. Because she didn’t want to subject her mother to waiting in a long line for her health, she decided to just leave and come back again the next day.
“They really need to look into all the manamko. They are a priority, too, to our family members. We’re trying to take care of their health but with the long line, people are just coming in, yesterday, there was a lot also. I’m hoping that they can take only 75 and above that did not make it today or yesterday. It’s really sad,” Petros said.
Carrera says that Public Health does acknowledge the concerns the elderly have and they are doing their best to accommodate the manamko’s needs.
“Despite the many challenges that we have been facing the last few days, with the long lines, the wait times … yesterday we may not have been as prepared as we had hoped. But we made adjustments,” Carrera said.
She added: “With the pandemic, our manamko have been the hardest hit, you know, with the hospitalizations, with the number of fatalities and we’ve really learned how this pandemic has treated them. So we want to get them vaccinated as much as possible and we’re quite encouraged and quite surprised that our manamko are coming to our doors to get vaccinated. They are our vaccination heroes.”
Piti residents Annie Pidauin and her husband Manny are among the other elderly who had positive feedback once receiving their vaccination
“I was so happy because we came here at 8:30 am and these guys were really good. I mean, we waited only two hours but the line was so long, oh my God! I thought we were going to stay here until maybe 2 pm in the afternoon. But look, see, we’re done like almost 11 am. So I’m very proud of these guys … they did a good job today!” Pidauin said.
Public Health distributed 600 vaccines on Tuesday and Wednesday and will distribute another 600 tomorrow, Thursday.
According to Carrera, they will still start at 9 am but will not have an end time. They will only close their gates when they have reached their 600 quota for the day.