THE Southern Philippines Medical Center Cancer Institute (SPMC-CI) adult oncologists initiated a one-day-only Covid-19 vaccination for eligible cancer patients last Saturday, May 29, 2021, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the SPMC Zonta Parking area.
The project, initiated by SPMC-CI section head Dr. Chita Nazal-Matunog and assisted by vaccination czar, Dr. Vanina Htun-Javier, was the first of its kind in the entire Philippines.
“In other areas kasi, sinama lang lahat ng cancer patients in the A3 priority group. But the process may be tedious kasi for cancer patients during vaccination of A3 priority group since the patients are asked for medical clearances/certificates at the vaccination sites,” Dr. Htun-Javier said.
She added that with their initiative, cancer patients will not have to suffer the process of queuing for their medical clearances and certificates because SPMC-CI already knows who are receiving active treatments and who are not. Thus they can give clearances easily on the site.
“Sa DOH guidelines kasi, medical clearances are not required sa cancer patients na not receiving any active or ongoing treatments, but medical certificates may be required as proof na they have comorbidities and that they really belong to the A3 category. Kawawa naman ang cancer patients kung pabalik-balikin pa,” Htun-Javier said.
She added that this initiative is a good start to show to the public that even cancer patients are willing to be inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines because as of the present, there is still no medicine against the dreaded disease, only the vaccine can help us prevent acquiring it or at least minimize its severity.
Armed with learnings from other earlier vaccination sites, the team has innovated a process cutting back the usual long line by prescreening the patients a few days before by their respective medical oncologists and bringing of completely filled up vaccination forms on the day of the vaccination.
An off-site headquarters was also established at the Colegio de San Ignacio, composed of 15 pharmaceutical specialists, led by Ray Mondelle Mondigo, who called and texted the patients a day before their scheduled hour to come to SPMC to ensure crowd control.
For patients with vehicles, they are sent to the drop off area on the driveway near Zonta parking grounds. Parking of vehicles within the premises was not allowed.
Patients were ushered to Station 1 (Screening) for taking of vital signs.
Patients with blood pressure of 180/120 or higher, documented fever, flu-like symptoms, and history of severe drug allergies without clearance from an allergologist/immunologist were automatically deferred.
Those who passed the screening were then ushered to Station 2 (Assessment), where their vaccination forms were checked for completeness, history of allergies were checked, and vaccination cards were distributed. In this station, patients were also stratified according to risk to determine whether they will be placed in the low to moderate risk or high risk observation area after vaccination.
Then patients were sent to Station 3 or the vaccination room. Six patients were vaccinated at a time.
From Station 3, patients were then ushered to their assigned post-vaccination areas. Station 4 was for high-risk patients and was manned by the SPMC Emergency Medicine Team. Station 5 was for low to moderate risk patients, supervised by medical oncologists, Internal Medicine residents, nurses, nursing assistants, pharmacists and study coordinators.
For stations 4 and 5, blood pressure of each patient was taken upon arrival and every 15 minutes for 30 minutes and discharged thereafter if no untoward adverse events were recorded.
A total of 100 nurses, nursing assistants, janitors, and other allied health personnel were part of the team, formed and headed by Adult Infusion Unit Head Nurse Mae Cesar. The Philippine National Police (PNP) also deployed five policemen to help in crowd control and implement minimum health safety protocols.
A total of 414 patients had been vaccinated on the day and no allergic reactions were recorded. However, there were a few who had blood pressure elevations but were all manageable.
Second dose of the vaccination is scheduled on Saturday, June 19 at the same time.
The event, according to Dr. Htun-Javier, was deemed successful because of the full support and presence of Chief Training Officer Dr. Maria Elinore Alba-Concha and SPMC Chief Dr. Ricardo B. Audan.
Dr. Pamela Ferrer, SPMC-CI infectious disease consultant, was among the overseers of the vaccination process.
The rest of the team was composed of medical oncologists Dr. Gay Martinez-Lapus, Dr. Amherstia Morelos, Dr. Arthur Gregory Lui, Dr. Kenny June Demeglio, fellows-in-training, namely, Dr. Perlita Yu-Dela Cruz, Dr. Jay-I Singanon, Dr. Fatima Enriquez, and Dr. Lean De Gracia. (With PR)