Porto City Hall is to enter a cooperation agreement with taxis to transport the elderly to vaccination sites

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Filipa Brito

Porto City Hall is preparing a cooperation agreement with both taxi shuttles in town to transport the elderly to the vaccination centres, namely the Health Centres in the Western and Eastern part of the city. Rui Moreira announced the news on 22nd February, during the Municipal Executive meeting.

“We are in contact with the two taxi shuttles operating in the city so that they are a vital part regarding transportation to and from vaccination centres”, asserted councillor for Transports Cristina Pimentel. In addition, under the “micromobilty plan transportation for vaccination centres, there has been a strengthening of some Bus lines”, furthered Cristina Pimentel.

This information followed a verbal recommendation by the PSD councillor, Álvaro Almeida, who requested that the City Hall engaged in this type of aide – transportation of the elderly to vaccination sites -, in addition to the ongoing collaboration with the Health Centres in the vaccination plan that the Municipality has been providing.

“Often times, these citizens are summoned [to get a vaccine shot] for that very afternoon or the following day and it is not easy for them to arrange transportation. And this might become a very stressful situation”, referred the town councillor of the PSD party.

Mayor Rui Moreira stated that he “entirely agreed” with that recommendation and affirmed that this partnership [with taxi shuttles] would be a way to solve that requirement and “a way to support the taxi business, which is experiencing a terrible crisis. This would be, if we like, a win-win situation”, the Mayor added.

The Municipality of Porto has been in constant communication with the two ACES [Health Centre Groups) in the city and articulated the availability of vaccination sites. Regarding the ACES Ocidental, the Municipality provided the School António Aroso, and as for the ACES Oriental, it supported the assemblage of a tent that will serve as a recovery site.

Rui Moreira also stressed that the Municipality of Porto will provide the Escola do Sol, in Sé, as well, to strengthen even more the municipal collaboration in the vaccination plan, as vaccine shots are delivered.

“We are collaborating in two ways: working with the ACES to empower the response capacity and also thinking how we can strengthen that capacity, which is still tenuous, when the mass vaccination arrives”, declared Rui Moreira, who added that “the important aspect here is not to lose vaccination opportunities, in the case of Porto if overnight we get circa 3 thousand vaccines”.

Currently, the average vaccination shots in the district of Porto is just around a few hundred, sometimes even less.

Councillor for Housing and Social Cohesion, Fernando Paulo, explained that the cooperation between the Municipality and the Health Centres - ACES and ARS- Norte – has been constant and every week the Municipal Commission and the Civil Protection sets out the status of the current situation.

Moreover, the contact with people in solitary confinement, “who find it difficult to reply to SMS messages, is covered”, assured Mayor Rui Moreira.

The Municipality has also given three light-duty vehicles to the ACES (Health Centres), “to help with testing and vaccination in nursing homes, which are providing, in some exceptional cases, home travels”, added Fernando Paulo.

Also, the Parish Councils of Campanhã and Bonfim have declared their readiness to collaborate in the vaccination plan and will provide their parish halls, as informed the Municipal Executive.

Drive-thru is set and ready to go

Rui Moreira reminded that the Municipality already put in place a drive-thru vaccination centre, at the Queimódromo, with the support of Unilabs Portugal, which is set and ready to work, as of 10th February. There are two other locations prepared to meet the vaccination demands: the bus parking facility of the STCP, in São Roque, and the other at the Gardens of Palácio de Cristal.

“The Government wants to have circa 70% of the population vaccinated by the end of summer, with two doses of the vaccine. This has to be matched with a titanic effort, of circa 100 thousand vaccines per day”, concluded Rui Moreira