It was exactly 6am when I arrived at the nearest public health center in our place. My husband asked his Mom to look after Zandrei for a moment while I queue. Once I reserved a slot, I’ll go back home to fetch my baby. That way, I can spare him from the boredom and stress of waiting for the health center to open.
In the health center, an old woman came before me. She said she’s lining up for her grandchild and she’ll just call them in once the vaccination starts.
“Good thing we have public health centers like this. I told my daughter to take advantage of the free vaccines in the center than pay for the private clinic vaccination she can barely afford”, she said.
Price of each vaccine can range from P500-P3,000 or more, excluding the doctor’s fee for the check-up. And know that there are many vaccines needed for our babies to ensure their optimum protection from viral, harmful diseases. So many that you might spend the same amount as you spent for your delivery, or your wedding!
And so we, as frugal wise moms, look for ways and opportunities to save while still ensuring that our baby gets the best. We don’t mind the queue as we’re already used to it, we know what to do. We wake up early to start lining up so when the gates open, we’re the first to be entertained.
However, that’s not the case when I visited the Ermin Garcia Health Center. After almost two hours of waiting, together with over 10 mommies with their babies– some of them, pregnant– the nurse finally arrived, only to inform us, early birds, that there’s no vaccination for that day and no doctor available to check up. That was Wednesday, their regular schedule of immunization but even the usual schedule changes without prior notice to mommies and patients.
When we asked why, she didn’t even bother to answer us or apologize for the inconvenience. One mom asked when we can come back for vaccination. She definitely said “next Wednesday” but when another mom asked again if that’s sure, she then replied with disclaimer, “I can’t tell” and then she left us there, puzzled on how are we going to know the real schedule. We can’t afford to go every now and then just to check. We have babies to take care of, chores to do and work to attend to.
We have known from another staff that the nurse was on a rush because she has an urgent, unexpected evaluation in the City Hall. Let’s say it’s valid but how come other moms who were there in the health center several times before, told me it’s always like that. People queue, only to be inform later on that they’re not vaccinating. Do they ever think about the babies? Their mothers bring them to the health centers very early in the morning even if it’s still cold just to be vaccinated but some irresponsible health workers send them home and ask to return again in an uncertain date.
The old woman was so upset, she exclaimed, “Sana naglagay man lang kayo ng note sa labas na wala ngayon para hindi na kami naghintay.” I don’t know how is she gonna convince her daughter to trust the health center again after what happened.
To not waste the day, my husband and I headed to Kamuning Health Center to see if it’s open. It is! There’s already a long queue when we arrived so we just submitted our baby book and a brown envelope with one sheet of paper. We’re number 40+. Since the check up and vaccination just started, we went home first to pick up Zandrei.
When we came back, half were done. We waited for two hours for Zandrei’s turn. We’re told to check his temperature, measure his length and weight. Facilities are available but with no assistance.
Finally we’re almost done. Zandrei was checked up by the doctor and was approved to be vaccinated with polio vaccine until..
We went to the treatment room and the doctor/nurse in there told us, they ran out of polio vaccine supply!
And those, my friends, are the troubles you might encounter when having your baby vaccinated in a public health center. So choose what you want to let go: your money or your time?