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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Portugal: What You Are Asked at Vaccine Centers

Updated: Jun 12, 2021

Before getting the vaccine, patients complete a 12-point health questionnaire at the firefighters (bombeiros) station in Oliveira do Hospital, Coimbra District.


The COVID-19 vaccine could save my life.

I received the second jab of the Moderna vaccine in Oliveira do Hospital on June 11. Therefore, in a few weeks, I will be fully immunized for the time being.

I am grateful.

In national COVID-19 news, the unvaccinated 60 and older can go to vaccine centers without making an appointment in a “Casa Aberta” (“Open House”) effort, according to Expresso (June 9).

In Oliveira do Hospital, the organization and efficiency of the doctors and nurses in the vaccine rollout impressed me. At the bombeiros, or firefighters, station, again, I received pre-counseling with one of two doctors, the second dose of the Moderna vaccine by one of the four nurses, a 30-minute waiting period, and post-counseling with a nurse.

On arrival, I checked in downstairs, where my name was ticked off a list. Then, I joined a queue of eight that trailed upstairs, two meters between everyone wearing mandated masks, with chairs interspersed along the way. Upstairs, I checked in with my Moderna reminder card and my patient registration document. (There is an open-topped elevator for those who find climbing stairs difficult.)) Again, my name was ticked off a list. And I was given the health questionnaire I had filled out before my first jab 28 days ago.

I re-joined the queue which snaked into a high-ceilinged room illuminated by a huge bay window on the right. On the same side as the window, there were two six open cubicles. In one “posto”, I met with a doctor.

I gave him the completed 12-point questionnaire, “Identification of Contraindications and Precautions for the Vaccine”. The questions addressed the following areas:

1. Are you sick today?

2. Do you have a cough, difficulty breathing or a change in the palate?

3. Have you been in contact with a COVID-19 case in the past 14 days?

4. Have you received another vaccine in the past 4 weeks?

5. Have you had serious reactions to vaccines, medicines or food?

6. Do you have a chronic disease?

7. Are you taking an anticoagulant?

8. Do you have cancer or another disease that affects your immunity?

9. Have you had a transplant within the past 3 to 6 months?

10. Have you had steroids, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy in the past 3 months?

11. Are you pregnant?

12. Have you had a severe reaction to this vaccine, or components of it, after the first dose?

During my first pre-counseling session before any vaccination, the doctor had made margin notes of the clarification of my “yes” answers. He had said that Moderna would be the best vaccine for me, and I agreed with him.

This patient-doctor meeting would be the time that patients could voice their concerns.

Today, the doctor asked whether I had any severe reaction to the first dose. I had not. He explained that I would be receiving the second and final dose of Moderna. Then, he directed me to one of 48 spaced-out chairs opposite the medical cubicles. I sat for 10 minutes before being called for the vaccine. After patients vacated their seats, a worker wiped them down with a sterilizing liquid.

The COVID-19 shot happened quickly. I took a seat again. This time, unlike my previous visit, 10 paintings were displayed in the front of the room and helped pass the half-hour wait. Before a nurse released me in a post-counseling session, the exceptionally loud sound effects of phones sounded intermittently in the room of gray-haired patients.

Most senior citizens have received the first dose. For ages 80 and older, 97 percent have had one dose; 70-79, 98 percent; 60-69, 90 percent; 50-59, 55 percent, and 40-49, 17 percent, reported SIC Noticias (June 7).

However, without an appointment, those who have not had one jab can go to the vaccination center associated with their health center, according to SIC Noticias (June 10).

The objective is to guarantee that “no one is left behind”, said Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the COVID-19 vaccine program, according to Expresso (June 9).

For those 43 and younger, the following is the link for a vaccine appointment. For English, click on the globe on the upper right:

Date of birth, fiscal number, and patient (utente) number are requested on the Directorate of Health (DGS) form. If you don’t have a patient number, it asks for the identification number of your citizens’ card or passport.

After choosing a location from a dropdown menu, an appointment day is issued online immediately. An SMS follows with a confirmed time.

Those 30 and older are expected to be permitted to access the online process on June 20, according to Diario de Noticias.

The online service began at the end of April for those 65 and older.

According to Our World in Data (June 10), 22.1 percent of Portugal’s population has been totally vaccinated as compared with 20.1 percent on June 7, and 42.1 percent has been partially vaccinated as compared with 39.7 percent three days earlier.

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