More airport terminals eyed as COVID-19 vaccination centers

Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 22 2021 06:55 PM

MANILA — The underutilized terminal 4 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has so far served around 4,000 frontliners—not for travel, but for their COVID-19 inoculations.

Instead of presenting tickets, people are asked to fill up a "case investigation form" and register for vaccination.

Upon entering the terminal, they go through x-ray machines, just like usual passengers.

But instead of checking in, frontliners wait to be screened by medical workers. 

The gates are now lined with vaccination booths with parked airplanes as backdrop.

The pre-departure area is where frontliners are monitored in case there are post-vaccination adverse effects. If no signs of negative effect, the individuals may collect their vaccination cards.

This is the 4th time that the 3,600-square-meter terminal was used for vaccination. The facility is currently used for cargo flights. 

"Satisfied sina [vaccine czar Sec. Carlito] Galvez, puwede raw itong gawing mass vaccination area. Tugma ang configuration ng area para gawin itong vaccination hub. Ideal siya — may mga comfort rooms, tapos may proper ventilation. Inaantay lang natin sasabihin ng IATF," said One Stop Shop Head Usec. Raul del Rosario.

NAIA Terminal 4 could accommodate over a thousand vaccine recipients from 7:30 a.m to 5 p.m.

CLARK SOON TO BE VACCINATION HUB?

Clark International Airport was also offered to become an alternative mass vaccination site.

The Old Clark International Terminal accommodates 4 flights and a thousand passengers daily even as the pandemic continues to restrict cross-border movements.

By next month, operations will be transferred in phases to the new terminal built near the old one.

That was why Luzon International Premier Airport Development (LIPAD), which manages the airport, proposed to utilize the old terminal as a mass vaccination hub.

"Magkakaroon ng unti-unting transfer. So as everybody knows, we’re going to transfer to a new terminal building. And while we’re doing that, unti-unti ring magkakaroon ng areas dito sa airport na maa-assign na as vaccination facility," said Teri Flores, LIPAD corporate communications head.

The check-in counters will be used as initial screening area, the departure lobby as vaccination area, and the second floor as the waiting area. 

The management estimates they could accommodate up to a thousand people in a day.

"It’s a very, very large area. We can accommodate a huge number in a day... All we have to do is to really assign areas kung ano ‘yung gagamitin for that. We have enough parking also. And as you know, Clark is a very nice location for anything actually,” Flores said.

LIPAD is waiting for permits from the local government unit and Department of Health to convert the old terminal into a vaccination hub. Part of the plan is to procure refrigerators to store enough vaccines.

Once approved, they plan to start with a mini-vaccination center where they will combine vaccination and flights. 

Toward the latter part of the year, once the operations are fully transferred to the new terminal, the whole building may be converted into a mass vaccination center.

The country has been rolling out its vaccination program since March, with over 8.4 million doses already administered. More than 2 million individuals have been fully vaccinated.

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