Although it started slow, it is consistent with its mission: to inoculate as many people as possible per day. The estimated number of shots per day is two thousand.
It seemed like there was no start button in sight, although the facilities were set up and prepared to operate as soon as last February. But the Government’s green light seemed to never arrive. Alas, just a few days ago, the Government authorized the drive-thru vaccination centre at the Queimódromo, located in the Parque da Cidade, which will enable, at full capacity, to give two thousand shots per day. This moment was marked by the Municipality of Porto, during a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, and the partner entities that collaborated in this process: the São João Hospital, the Northern Region Health Administration (ARS Norte), Unilabs and the Health Centre Groups of East Porto (ACeS).
“We need to vaccinate full speed”, emphasized the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, who has little doubts that “we have here the conditions for a job well done”, so that “no one is left unvaccinated due to eventual distress reasons”. "The comfort and safety of the drive-thru system adds to the ease of access to these facilities for all users, through our protocol with the taxi operators that enable transport to this centre at 2 euros only”, recalled Rui Moreira.
Until the beginning of the afternoon, already two dozen people had been vaccinated in the centre. This centre has 12 vaccination lines – ten in drive-thru mode and two in walk-thru mode. Until the beginning of this afternoon already two dozen people had already been vaccinated. Self booking is already available to that site and from 14 July on, people that have booked their coronavirus vaccination at the Queimódromo will be summoned.
The Queimódromo Vaccination Centre opens after four months after it was set up – in February – as the Government and the Task Force’s green light just came in the end of June. The centre is able to vaccinate circa two hundred people per day, at present, but in two weeks’ time it will deliver 500 shots a day. When in full operation mode, it will be able to vaccinate two thousand people, per day.
According to the director of Unilabs, which is in charge of the operation logistics and the availability of vaccination technicians, the opening of the drive-thru was “only possible due to the determination of Porto City Hall and its Mayor in wanting to help the health authorities, in wanting to vaccinate more people”. Luís Menezes believes that “if this model is able to be replicated [in the country], all the better”.
With the same purpose, the chairman of the board of the São João Hospital, enhanced “the planning effort and anticipation by Porto City Hall in due time” and “its ability to create solutions”. For Fernando Araújo, this is “an innovative process and of great value to the city”, and a “great example for the country”.
The president of the ARS-Norte ensures that the centre at the Queimódromo will be an asset “now that we have a larger volume of available vaccines”. Carlos Nunes says that this “fight is not done only with health professionals and institutions, but with all entities”. “It would not be possible to fight this pandemic without this involvement, this collaboration”, he affirmed.
The Mayor of Porto explained that it will be up to the Municipality the “provision of Civil Protection and the Municipal Police to support the centre, as well as the safe transportation of vaccines”.
During the start of the operations at the Drive-thru were also present the director of the ACeS Porto Oriental, the councillor for Civil Protection, Cristina Pimentel, and Fernando Paulo, councillor for Social Cohesion.
The drive-thru of the Queimódromo was established through a Memorandum of Understanding between Porto City Hall and the Hospital de São João, in partnership with Unilabs Portugal.
During the presentation of the space, last February, Rui Moreira affirmed the availability for the Municipality to open other valences of the same type: a drive-thru in the former STCP parking lot, in São Roque, as well as a walk-thru in the Gardens of the Palácio de Cristal. According to Rui Moreira, and with the three facilities in operation, as well as vaccine stocks available, it would have been possible to vaccinate the entire population of Porto in just two months.
This model had already proven effective, during the testing phase, on the occasion of the first Covid-19 cases detected in the country, in March 2020. Also, during that time, the city of Porto assembled the first drive-thru testing model in less than 72 hours, also in the Queimódromo, which was also the first of its type in Portugal.