Hundreds line up for COVID-19 vaccines; inoculations to resume today
By John McPhaul
Hundreds of health professionals arrived early Wednesday morning at Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum in Hato Rey to be vaccinated against COVID-19. At around midday the island National Guard had to close the gates to the coliseum after the process had reached its capacity for the day.
The vaccination process will resume today and will be suspended for Christmas Day on Friday before resuming on Saturday.
Health professionals lined up in their cars to wait their turns to enter the coliseum to be inoculated. The police confirmed that from early in the morning vehicles began to arrive through the avenues that lead to the coliseum, which generated traffic congestion even at the exits of the Las Américas Expressway in Hato Rey.
On Tuesday, the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) announced that it would begin Phase 1A of the vaccination process for health professionals who do not work in hospitals by opening the first regional vaccination center at Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum.
“We opened the first regional vaccination center in Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum and in the following days we will be opening other centers in Caguas, Arecibo and Ponce,” National Guard Adj. Gen. José Reyes said in a written statement. “These vaccination centers are aimed at health professionals who do not work in hospitals, such as private doctors, dentists, and employees of clinical laboratories, among others.”
Reyes said the Caguas vaccination center will be located in the Fine Arts Center, while the center in Arecibo will be located at Manuel “Petaca” Iguina Coliseum. In Ponce, Salvador Dijols Coliseum is expected to serve as a vaccination center, he said.
The PRNG adjutant general noted that Moderna Pharmaceutical vaccines were used for Wednesday’s vaccinations at Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum, as well as at island diagnosis and treatment centers, 330 centers, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) centers, and for the Physicians and Surgeons Association of Puerto Rico.
“Based on the fact that there has been a decrease in the flow of the Pfizer vaccine at the United States level, we had to adjust our logistics and instead of starting this Wednesday with first responders, we continued with the health professionals in these four centers since they are the ones on that front line of the battle,” Reyes said.
The distribution and administration of the vaccine is being carried out in three phases as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to the availability of initial vaccine doses.
Phase 1A includes hospital workers and healthcare professionals, as well as people who work and live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Phase 1B includes first responders such as police, fire, 911, medical emergency, and emergency management personnel, among others.
Phase 1C includes people with chronic diseases and those who are immunocompromised, as well as employees of the island Department of Education and essential workers such as personnel from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, and pharmacists.
On Monday, the PRNG received 47,500 doses of Moderna’s vaccine, of which 20,000 are available to start vaccinations at the vaccination center established at Pedrín Zorrilla and other regional vaccination centers.