GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 12 Oct) – The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 is pushing for the opening of more vaccination sites for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to further fast-track the continuing mass rollout in the area.
Dr. Edvir Jane Montañer, DOH-12 immunization manager, said on Tuesday they are continually encouraging and lobbying with the local government units to increase the current 333 vaccination sites within the region.
She said the move will help expand the area’s inoculation coverage and accomplishment, which is “still way below our targets.”
As of Oct. 11, a DOH-12 report said a total of 1,196,571 COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered since March in the entire region, with 575,766 individuals fully vaccinated and 620,805 waiting for their second dose.
The vaccination coverage so far is only 34.29 percent of the targeted 3,490,115 individuals who comprise 70 percent of Soccsksargen’s adult population.
DOH-12’s vaccination coverage still includes Cotabato City, which is now under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Citing their records, Montañer said the area’s four provinces and five cities only vaccinate an average of 1,945 individuals per day.
She said such figure is way below the needed daily coverage of 33,752 to fully inoculate all individuals in the area aged 18 and above by the end of the year.
“We need to expand and capture more individuals. We need to jab and jab every day to fully cover our target population faster,” Montañer said in a press conference in Koronadal City.
Local governments, through the rural health units (RHUs), have expanded the vaccination activities in the last two months as more vaccines continue to arrive in the region.
The RHUs, as directed by the DOH-12, started last week the inoculation of “the rest of adult population” or those aged 18 and above, regardless of their status.
The mass vaccination previously covered residents under priority groups A1 (front-line health care workers and their families, outbound overseas workers), A2 (senior citizens), A3 (persons with comorbidities), A4 (essential workers), and A5 (indigent residents).
Among the priority groups, Montañer said the RHUs are still facing difficulty in convincing more senior citizens to get vaccinated.
Out of the target 312,746 elderly, she said only 127,190 are so far fully vaccinated while 98,574 have received the first dose.
“This remains our top priority right now because our senior citizens have not been spared from COVID-19 and the most vulnerable to severe infections,” she said.
In terms of vaccine allocation, Montañer said the region has been consistently receiving supplies from the National Vaccine Operations Center every week and currently has some 158,059 standby shots.
This comprised Sinovac, Pfizer, Moderna, and Sinopharm vaccines. The other brands previously delivered in the region were Sputnik V, Janssen, and AstraZeneca.
“The vaccine allocation is not a problem anymore and we have a lot in our inventory. The success of our vaccination rollout and how we end this pandemic now depend as to how our recipients from different communities respond and accept these vaccines,” she added. (MindaNews)