Thursday, April 8, 2021

Vaccination centers: Best practices


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FURTHER to the architectural designs for Covid centers that Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture donated last April 2020 (thank you to the United Architects of the Philippines for the award and recognition), I would like to share what we have researched about best practices, layouts, processes, procedures, time and motion studies, duration, and capacities in vaccination centers elsewhere in the world. I will also be sharing pictures and layouts of vaccine centers in other countries that we could follow to improve our current process here in the Philippines.

With the presence of more contagious variants and a new surge of Covid-19 infections globally, countries are racing to set up new medical and vaccination facilities. According to numerous reports and personal accounts shared with me by my relatives, friends and colleagues abroad, large public spaces like convention centers, stadiums, arenas and shopping malls are being transformed into mass vaccination hubs so large numbers of people can be inoculated safely and efficiently each day. These sites will be able to support the network of hospitals, clinics and health care facilities. Based on Global Change Data Lab’s vaccination tracker, countries like Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Chile and the United Kingdom lead in terms of the number of people who have already been vaccinated. As of March, 50 percent of Israel’s population have been fully vaccinated and 60 percent have already received the first dose.

Establishing these mass vaccination sites may be complex and costly but can be an effective way of implementing vaccine rollouts swiftly and methodically. A major consideration is the design and planning of the site that will ensure meeting cold storage requirements for the vaccines and sufficient space and proper ventilation to protect the health care workers, staff, and clients. The requirements for setting up a vaccine center include establishing a structured operational flow and layout, space and ventilation measures, a calculated service time, disinfection and sanitation routines, informational and directional signage, and clinical and nonclinical staffing; dealing with schedules and logistics; providing emergency medical services; and designating spaces for entry and exit points and areas for vaccination storage, registration, screening and clearance, waiting, vaccination, and observation; among others.

In the US, convention centers and arenas like the Yankee Stadium, Javits Center, Fenway Park and Citi Field are now mass vaccination locations. In Germany, architects started designing vaccination centers back in November of last year, and Arena Berlin, trade halls, airport terminals, and other locations have been assigned as vaccination sites. In the UK, Israel and Italy, they have utilized museums, cathedrals and town squares, while in Canada, community centers have been part of the vaccination process.

In Dubai, they have the One Central Covid-19 Vaccination Center, their largest vaccine facility located next to the Dubai World Trade Center, which can accommodate 4,000 people per day. The vaccination process is seamless and will not take more than 30 minutes, according to officials of the vaccination center. Those who wish to be vaccinated will have to book an appointment by calling a hotline or registering through the Dubai Health Authority app. Within minutes, they will receive the details of the confirmed appointment. After registering at the vaccination center, clients will be directed to a different floor to be screened and have their vital signs checked before the vaccination. The observation time after the vaccination is 10 to 15 minutes then clients will receive an SMS informing them of the time and location for the second dose. Shopping malls in Dubai have also become available as vaccination centers, and stores and restaurants in the malls have remained open.


Sadly, there is a stark contrast between the agility, process and infrastructure of vaccine rollouts abroad and our setup here in the Philippines based on reports, photos and videos of our vaccination process in the news. Let us hope that with all the research and best practices available, our vaccination rollout can still be improved in terms of speed, efficiency, safety, convenience and infrastructure.

I would like to gratefully acknowledge my former colleague at Palafox, the architect Christian Vasquez from Dubai; my classmates architects Beth Edejer from Toronto and Penn Baluyot from New York; my cousins, Dr. Becky Agcaoili and Dr. Merce Quijano; and my other relatives, friends and colleagues abroad and at Palafox who helped me with my research for this article.



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