029DE: Unnecessary Complications for Necessary Things

Red Tape (A Pun)
This is my idea of a pun

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 465

Today I got into a somewhat lengthy discussion to help a friend figure out the vaccination requirements in her city. The fact the ultimate vaccine rollout is something that the different local governments need to manage has resulted in quite the patchwork collection of online systems, schedules, appointment methods, and what not that varies from place to place.

I am a stickler for the rules when it comes to many things in life and this propensity for reading manuals and following instructions has given me a fairly good aptitude for navigating bureaucracy and similarly complex systems like customer service queues. and thus I've sort of thrived in this crazy environment and at least got vaccinated and I now feel fairly on track to get Tobie an appointment once more slots open up. And I think I was able to help my friend take those first steps as well, provided more schedules open up in her area.

But I can imagine that beyond the notion of vaccine hesitancy, this mishmash of different systems and requirements is probably one of the biggest barriers to getting more people vaccinated. If it's already hard for digital natives to get through the different online databases and scheduling systems, what more for those who don't even have regular access to the internet or only have devices that just meet the minimum standards of being called smartphones? As potentially convenient online platforms can be for many things, I'm sure there's still an opportunity when it comes to relying on these systems for something as important as our national vaccination effort, which is essentially the backbone of our actual pandemic response.

What more those who just aren't comfy with technology like the more vulnerable senior citizens and others who just avoid putting their data online whenever possible. How many people aren't getting vaccinated because of all these complications and challenges?

Just look at what happened in the city of Manila after they announced that things would shift to allow for walk-ins. Online appointment systems can be intimidating, but lining up for something is something that a lot of people can understand and so many people turned up even for just the chance of getting a shot. This is not an ideal solution of course, but it just illustrates how differences in complexity can greatly affect participation. And that's something the government needs to think about in terms of how to best utilize our limited vaccine supplies in a manner that protects the most vulnerable first.

We can do better and we NEED to do better. We have a very long way to go before we approach anything close to the idea of herd immunity. And we can't really afford to drag our feet when it comes to this.