BARMM resumes COVID-19 vaccination campaign

COTABATO CITY – After the busy weeks of the elections, the Bangsamoro government has now changed focus and back to facing the COVID-19 pandemic as it launched Monday a special vaccination campaign after playing catchup to the rest of the regions.

The BARMM resumes vaccination campaign against COVID-19 starting Monday (17 May 2022), prioritizing children who are going back to school for face-to-face classes. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

Of its target 2.9 million population for vaccination, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has so far inoculated only 28 percent. Its new target: at least 70 percent of the region’s residents to achieve herd immunity.

The province of Maguindanao, led by the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), kicked off the renewed campaign Monday, launching special vaccination programs until May 20.

“No retreat, no surrender until we reach our target,” said Dr. Elizabeth Samama, provincial health officer.

“We have to increase coverage. This is a challenge for us,” seconded Dr. Zul Qarney Abas, officer in charge of the BARMM’s Ministry of Health.

The IPHO staged the kickoff of the special immunization campaign in front of the Bangsamoro Government Complex where health personnel vaccinated children who are about to go back to face-to-face classes.

Health Undersecretary Abdullah Dumama, who was once city health officer of Cotabato City, attended the vaccination program. Police, military and health officials in the province came to witness, too.

“People have become so lax [in this pandemic],” Dumama said. “Of course wearing face masks is good, but people have forgot all about physical distancing,” he added.

Dumama said that sooner or later COVID-19 cases may rise again, the elections may be part of the reason. “Many are still dying and most of them are unvaccinated,” he pointed out.

Brig. Gen. Oriel Pangcog, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said one of the strategies to increase vaccination rate is to use soldiers to reach the remotest areas and help in the campaign. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)