DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /09 May) – Thousands of senior citizens in key cities and towns in Mindanao have received their first dose of vaccine against COVID-19 but not in Davao City which has, since March last year, recorded the highest number of cases and highest number of deaths across Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities.
The cities of Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, General Santos, Cotabato, Malaybalay, have rolled out vaccination for the A2 group or residents 60 years and above, some of them already preparing to administer vaccines to a second batch while preparing also to give the second dose to the first batch.
Asked on April 30 on the schedule of vaccination for senior citizens in the city, Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting City Health Officer, told MindaNews: “expected next vaccine allocation May 1. Hopefully, vaccination for senior citizens will commence early May.”
On May 1, the Davao region received, 44,400 doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac, bringing to 148,000 the total number of doses received by the region since the roll-out in early March. Of 148,000, only 20,000 were from Astra Zeneca. The rest are Sinovac’s Coronavac.
According to the DOH-Davao’s master list, the region has 84,692 health care workers (HCWs), with Davao City accounting for the most number at 28,493.
MindaNews checked again with Lopez on May 5 on the schedule of vaccination for senior citizens and was told “hopefully next week pag dumating na vaccine allocation” (when the vaccine allocation arrives).
Asked about the May 1 shipment, Lopez said “para sa natitirang Group A1 yun” (that’s for the remaining A1 Group). A1 refers to health care workers.
More vaccines arrived in the country between May 1 and 8. On May 1, 15,000 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V arrived; on May 7, 1.5 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac; on May 8, from the COVAX Facility, 2,030,400 doses of Astra Zeneca and on May 10, arrival of 193,050 doses of Pfizer vaccines.
How many of these vaccines will be shipped to Mindanao has yet to be ascertained.
The Department of Health (DOH) listed A1 (health care workers) as first priority for vaccination, followed by A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidities).
Asked how many senior citizens have registered for vaccination and how the city will determine who gets to be vaccinated first, Lopez told MindaNews on May 5: “Over 100,000 (registered), first come first serve(d) basis).
On May 6, MindaNews sought Lopez for clarification on his “first come first served policy” given that those who will be vaccinated are senior citizens, some of whom will be accompanied by relatives or caregivers, and crowding or queuing in the time of pandemic is risky. He sent no reply. MindaNews again checked on May 8 and 9 but he has not answered.
Lopez did not also reply to the query on how the vaccines for seniors would be allocated among the city’s 182 barangays if, for example, only 3,000 doses are available for the first batch.
MindaNews also sought Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, head of the Vaccination Cluster in the city, on the seniors’ schedule but she has not replied.
Last month, Villafuerte said the vaccination venue for those aged 60 to 65 years old would be at the district health offices but they were still finalizing then on setting up vaccination hubs in the over hospitals for seniors 70 years and older.
MindaNews asked the DOH-Davao on protocols in the vaccination of senior citizens and was told that for Priority group A2, there are two “sub-prioritizations:” Priority A2.1 and Priority A2.2.
Priority A2.1 refers to “institutionalized senior citizens including those in registered nursing homes and other group homes with elderly working together” such as convents, while Priority A2.2 are “other senior citizens, including bed-ridden senior citizens at home.”
The Department of Health in the Davao region has received a total of 148,000 doses of vaccine since its rollout in early March. The total number of health care workers in the region’s master list is 84,692. Out of this number, 28,493 are in Davao City.
The total number of those who received their first jab in the region as of April 27 was 60,801while 16,415 received their second dose. By 6 p.m. of April 29, the number increased to 61,529 and 16,450.
By 6 pm of May 5, out of the 84,000 doses distributed for the first dose, 62,819 or 74.8% had been administered, while out of 64,000 for the second dose, 17,481 or 27.3% had been administered.
According to the DOH-Davao’s Vaccine Statistics, Davao City received a total of 50,790 doses – 28,410 allocated for the first dose of HCWs and 22,380 for second dose.
Out of the 28,410 doses allocated, 22,736 or 80% had been administered. Of 22,380 doses intended for the second dose, 8,922 had been administered.
How many senior citizens?
Records from the DOH-Davao which are based on the reports of local government units, show that as of April 26, the “total master listed eligible population” of Priority A2 or Senior Citizens in the region is 353,268.
Of this number, 88,381 are in Davao City.
An April 20 report of the state-run Philippine News Agency quoted Villafuerte as saying “at least 93,468 out of the targeted 120,000 senior citizens” have registered for vaccination.
“The master listing is being done by two offices, which is the City Health Office (CHO), through the District Health Offices and the Office of the Senior Citizen (OSCA) under the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO),” Villafuerte was quoted as saying.
The Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs has not been tapped for registration. In fact, senior citizens calling up the office to inquire about vaccination matters are referred to the CHO.
Luis Moran, who heads the OSCA, estimates the number of senior citizens in the city at “more or less 150,000.”
He told MindaNews last month that there are three sources of data on senior citizens in the city: their data base, the data base of the Commission on Elections, and Philhealth. “Kaya hindi po ako makapagsabi ng exact but more or less 150,000 ang 60 and above” (That’s why I cannot give an exact number but more or less, there are 150,000 persons aged 60 and above in the city).
Moran told MindaNews on Friday that they were still waiting for the call from the CHO for an online meeting involving the DOH, CHO and Federation of Senior Citizens. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)