TO continue further on the subject of architecture and planning for Covid-19 and vaccination centers that I tackled in last week’s article, we have been carrying out more research and continue to receive helpful feedback. I requested classmates, colleagues, doctors, nurses, friends and family here and abroad to share their experiences, observations and recommendations during their scheduled vaccination. We gratefully appreciate this, and Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group will be incorporating their observations into the planning and design of vaccination centers, vaccination courts and drive-through vaccination sites.
Based on their observations and feedback, vaccination sites need architectural designs and master plans for more efficient plans, layouts and circulation for waste disposal, adverse effect monitoring, severe adverse event treatment, stable internet connection, a command center, setting up video orientations, standalone temperature measurement, hand sterilization areas, rest rooms and one-way flow, among others.
Waiting areas in the streets should be removed to allow for safer and more comfortable waiting areas. Scheduling and encoding of information should be done online, not face-to-face. Walk-ins should be discouraged. In addition, there have been many recommendations for assigning more medical personnel to vaccination sites to avoid long waiting times and overcrowding. There have been instances wherein hundreds are scheduled for the day, but there is only one vaccination station on site. Assigning volunteers to augment the professional medical staff will also help remedy the staffing issues.
A vaccination site in a public school with a 5,000-square-meter campus can only vaccinate 300 to 400 persons per day. That can be improved to 3,000 a day with a good architectural design and master plan, systematic processes, an efficient floor plan, and time and motion studies, among others. In Dubai, the vaccination process is only 15 minutes; in Toronto, it is 30 minutes; and in Arizona, it is 10 seconds in a drive-through vaccination site. Sadly, here in the Philippines, based on feedback we received, it takes 90 minutes to three hours. A doctor friend of mine told me that it took him five hours to be vaccinated and that other people waited in the open street for their turn, which can potentially spread the virus. There was no digital infrastructure to support the process; information was encoded on-site. There were only two vaccinators available and to think this is the time when senior citizens and health care workers were scheduled at the site. According to infectious disease specialists, vaccination centers should not be enclosed and are better without air-conditioning. Outdoor sites with sheds are better because they have more natural light and ventilation.
I hope we can adopt the Dubai experience, where vaccination centers are in shopping malls open to the public. They only have a maximum waiting time of 30 minutes. Those with scheduled vaccinations can shop and dine before and after being vaccinated. The underutilized road lanes and huge parking areas of malls can also be used as vaccination sites. Many vaccination centers now are in donated enclosed tents with no natural ventilation and with the names of donors. I wonder if any medical practitioners from the Department of Health or IATF are monitoring this substandard, unhealthy practice. With elections coming, there will be more enclosed tents with names of politicians, and these will have no natural ventilation and no efficient air exchange.
In Arizona, there is a drive-through vaccination facility with a full capacity of 12,000 vaccinations per day, but right now, it is handling an average of 8,000 and 9,000 vaccines per day with 10 lanes at the vaccination pod. The standard established is one vaccination for every 10 seconds. Half of the site is staffed by volunteers. One of their objectives is to get the site functioning successfully with as little help as possible from the military, so the systems they have established can be replicated in more counties. The success of this vaccination site was made possible through collaboration between the Republican governor, the Department of Defense, planners, partners from health services, and numerous volunteers. This was gratefully appreciated and supported by the US President and Vice President who are both Democrats. Politics is set aside for the sake of ensuring an efficient vaccination rollout.
I applaud the SM Group for their philanthropic initiatives for humanity and their medical architectural activism. They are volunteering their 75 SM malls as vaccination centers to local government units (LGUs) nationwide. They already started last March. Currently, they have 15 malls all throughout the Philippines that are now available for their multi-mall vaccination program, which they initiated in coordination with LGUs. These prioritize the inoculation of health workers, frontliners, senior citizens, and other priority groups identified by the government. It is estimated that approximately 90,000 people can benefit from the vaccination program at SM malls.
I am glad to share that Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture Group are currently designing a mega vaccination center with the capacity to vaccinate 10,000 persons per day, vaccination courts and drive-through vaccination sites based on global best practices. This is in coordination with the philanthropic and patriotic initiatives for country and humanity of Enrique Razon’s group — International Container Terminal Services, Michael Ray Aquino, Solaire, Jocot de Dios’ Prime BMB, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, the Nayong Pilipino Foundation, and Zuellig, among others. I believe if we streamline the process, we can achieve 1 vaccination every 15 minutes.
We can all contribute to achieve immunization and vaccination through philanthropic architecture and medicine. Otherwise, it will take 10 years to vaccinate 70 percent of our population. The government cannot do it alone. This is an opportunity for the private sector to take part in medical architectural philanthropy for the country and humanity.