GenSan rolls out ‘bakuna bus’ to curb COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

An elderly woman records on a tablet her COVID-19 inoculation on Monday, 27 Sept. 2021, in Lagao, General Santos City. Many elderly residents are reluctant to get inoculated because of the wrong information they have been getting about the vaccines. MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 October) – The city government is targeting to capture more essential workers and residents who had been hesitant to avail of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines through its newly launched mobile vaccination program.

Dr. Rochelle Oco, head of the City Health Office (CHO), said they have allotted at least 500 vaccination slots for each sortie of their “bakuna bus,” which made its second stop on Wednesday at the city’s central public market in Barangay Dadiangas South.

She said they expect to inoculate more market vendors and workers as well as their families in the mobile vaccination drive, which is scheduled every Wednesday and Saturday.

Included in the list of prospective recipients are tricycle and “trisikad” drivers, and even market-goers.

Oco said they have set up a registration site at the public market for walk-in recipients, who only need to present a valid identification card to avail of the COVID-19 vaccination.

She said they assigned health workers and volunteers at the site to assist the vaccinators and ensure the smooth and orderly conduct of the vaccination, which is done inside the retrofitted “bakuna bus.”

“After that, we will be going to other strategic areas, including barangay centers and puroks, as we shift from sectoral to geographical approach in our vaccination,” she told reporters.

The ongoing mass vaccination, which previously focused on the priority groups set by the national government, has expanded early this month to the “rest of the adult population” in the area.

Oco said the next priority areas for the mobile vaccination are barangays with high cases of COVID-19, among them the populous areas of Barangays San Isidro, Lagao and Calumpang.

Aside from public markets, the “bakuna bus” will make stops in public terminals and communities with a high number of unvaccinated residents.

“Those hesitating to get the vaccines will no longer have any reason why they can’t get them,” she said.

The city’s daily vaccination coverage is currently at 2,054 individuals, way below the 4,446 set by the Department of Health-Region 12 to achieve population protection by the end of the year.

As of Tuesday, a total of 255,911 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered in the city’s 26 barangays.

Some 110,449 individuals were listed as fully vaccinated while 145,462 are waiting for their second doses.

The local government is targeting to inoculate a total of 409,732 individuals, which is 70 percent of its adult population of around 585,000. The city’s population as of the May 2020 census was at 697,315. (MindaNews)