If, like many I know, you want to get vaccinated for COVID-19 but don’t know where to get started, here’s a step-by-step guide based on my experience. What I’m sharing here are basic things to remember, since some steps may vary depending on your local government unit (LGU).
As a person with comorbidities, I also took proactive measures by buying privately my doses of Moderna vaccine, which are supposed to arrive by the second quarter of 2021. With the recent surge in infections, however, I decided I couldn’t wait much longer to get some amount of protection from the virus.
“The best vaccine at this point is what is available,” my onco-surgeon told me via email when I asked if I could receive the Sinovac vaccine, which was likely what my LGU would administer. “Later on, when Moderna arrives, one can review the science if we can still have Moderna even if one had Sinovac.”
She added, “Vaccination is just one of the layers of protection. Properly wearing a KN95 or N95 mask, face shield, social distancing, not touching the face before hand hygiene are still important layers for prevention.”
On Thursday last week, I signed up on proudmakatizen.com for the vaccination drive of Makati City, where I both live and work. You’re asked to fill out a form with your basic information, and a health-screening questionnaire.
Medical certificate or prescription
If you have comorbidities, you would be asked to upload a photo of a medical certificate from your doctor or a medical prescription. You will have to present this on your vaccination day.
Note that if you’re immunocompromised, or a cancer survivor like this writer, a medical prescription wouldn’t suffice. You will need a medical certificate from your doctor stating that you may receive the vaccine.
This caused me some 10-minute delay on vaccine day because, even as my primary physician had cleared me, the doctor at the vaccine center wanted to see an actual medical certificate. Prescriptions, I was told, was okay for simpler cases like hypertension. Luckily, my onco-surgeon was reachable and quickly sent me a medical certificate via Viber.
After signing up online, you will receive a confirmation number—take a screenshot or write it down—but not much else. There’s no advice on the next step. Another Makati resident told us that he registered his senior parents and himself, but only his parents received a confirmation number.
So it was a surprise when, last Sunday, three days after I signed up, I got a text from
BakunaMKT saying I was scheduled for vaccination the following day. There’s a link to “confirm or resked.” Do NOT delete that text. They require that on the day. A screenshot won’t suffice because, they pointed out, screenshots can be falsified.
What to bring
So what to bring with you on vaccine day? First, your phone bearing the text confirming your schedule; a valid ID; your own pen (a must since they don’t allow sharing); and your medical certificate/prescriptions.
Vaccination in Makati is done at Makati Coliseum. If you’re driving, you might have to walk a long way since you can only park on the side streets.
As you enter, you’re asked to present the text message from BakunaMKT and a valid ID. There are tents outside with monobloc chairs where you’re made to line up. The line is orderly and moves quickly enough. During our batch, there were no more seniors—we were mostly in our 30s to 50s, presumably all with comorbidities.
Step 1 is Registration, again with your ID and the text. You’re given two forms to fill out—one, a consent form, the other your vaccination card.
We were asked to wait for Step 2, or Counseling, where they double-check your forms, in the coliseum’s bleachers. It’s air-conditioned so it’s comfortable.
Step 3 is Vitals, where they check your temperature and blood pressure. Then a doctor will ask for your medical certificate/prescription, and clears you for vaccination.
Next is the actual jab. Easy-peasy—or maybe because I’m just used to getting stabbed with needles. Even then, I felt the heaviness on my arm as the vaccine was injected, something I don’t normally experience from the annual flu vaccine. When I mentioned this to the nurse, she said it hurts more for skinny people like me.
They give you back your vaccination record indicating the schedule of your second jab. Then you present this at one more counter, where you’re asked to sign a form electronically, before proceeding to the postvaccination monitoring area. For Makati, they ask you to fill out a survey form before you’re allowed to leave.
It took me about an hour, including the brief delay on my medical certificate, in and out. As I write this, it has been an hour since I received my first jab, and save for some tightness on the injected site, I feel fine.