Island Health Dept. to implement appointment system to standardize vaccination procedure

Secretary-designate confirms no appointment system yet in effect

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Puerto Rico Health Secretary-designate Carlos Mellado López announced Thursday that the agency will establish an appointment system to regulate the island’s vaccination campaign amid the “imbalance” issue vaccine providers have faced as they have been unable to administer second coronavirus shots.

After the STAR reported Wednesday that the agency was already implementing the TurnosPR platform in the vaccination campaign, Mellado López said the system was yet to be established as TurnosPR required contact information from candidates for COVID-19 inoculation.

Mellado López said the agency will be using information from the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration and the MAPA system, which he described as a platform that includes various health insurance companies and its clients.

When asked by the STAR if the platform was being implemented or reinforced, the Health secretary-designate said “the platform already existed, what we are doing now is bringing it to the vaccination process.”

“Maybe by saying TurnosPR, and you are more than right, implies [to people] where do I get an appointment,” Mellado López said. “What the platform will do is that the people who reserved a turn to get the vaccine through our website, which was around 23,000, the platform will take that information and begin distributing it through vaccine providers.”

“You have to honor all those turns because it’s not fair that you’ve gotten a turn and now they say, ‘No, you have to enter now through another place,’” he added. “That’s totally unfair.”

The Health chief added that candidates to receive the coronavirus vaccine will be informed via mail, phone or text message.

Mellado López said that from now on, in order to minimize confusion or misinformation, the Health Department will be holding press conferences every day.

The STAR asked if the implementation of appointments meant that vaccine providers will neglect administering the vaccine to those who do not have reservations, given that, as reported Wednesday by the newspaper, one of the reasons for people being unable to receive their booster shot was that such shots were being administered to citizens aged 65 years and older who were yet to be inoculated, Mellado López said the implementation of the appointment system was to mitigate and prevent further slippage.

As for the imbalance issue reported Wednesday, Puerto Rico National Guard Adj. Gen. José Reyes said the mismatch occurred because the Guard determined to administer vaccines to the population addressed in the current Health Department administrative order prioritizing senior citizens.

“We used doses from the second doses to attend to the population that were waiting at vaccination centers; this took place around two or three days,” Reyes said. “The quantity that was used was around 7,000 [vaccines].”

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