Job seekers belatedly get vaccinated against COVID-19

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay (MindaNews / 29 January) – Health personnel assigned in the centralized COVID-19 vaccination center here reported early on Monday, January 9, positioned themselves in their assigned stations in the long procedure flow of the vaccination process: the receiving desk, medical examination and screening, vaccine administration, and on to the after-injection examination area and counselling. 

But there were no more long lines of vaccine seekers now. Unlike at the height of the pandemic in 2021 when the big open space of the roughly 600-square meter ground floor of the unfinished two-story building of the RHU were filled with people wanting to get vaccinated.

From the last quarter of 2022 until the start of this year, vaccine seekers have been coming in in trickles. 

Jennifer Balungcas, 24, get her vaccination against COVID-19 belatedly because vaccination is a requirement in the overseas job she is applying for. MindaNews photo by JULES BENITEZ

This day, the vaccination center only had three clients, among them Jonalyn Polonio, 37, mother of three children, the youngest of whom is five and the eldest, 15. She is unemployed and her husband is a farmer.

Polonio is not even from the town of Ipil. She resides in Tungawan, a municipality located at the border of Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Sibugay, about 45 minutes away by bus.

“Mao na lang man kini ang naay vaccination nga ginahatag karon nga abli bisan unsang adlawa, (This is the only center where vaccination is given on weekdays),” Polonio said when asked why she traveled the long ride to Ipil for the vaccination. 

This was the first time Polonio was taking the COVID-19 vaccine shot. She feared vaccination because of the stories she heard about becoming a zombie and getting sick because of the vaccine.

“Pero apiki na gýud ang panahon karon, Sir. (Life is doubly difficult these days, Sir),” the young mother said. “Kinahanglan nako manarbaho, (I need to find a job.),” she added.

Polonio is applying as a domestic helper in Kuwait in the Middle East. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is one of the requirements of the overseas job placement agency. 

The other client who came for vaccination that day was Jennifer Balungcas, 24, single, a resident in one of the outskirt barangays of Ipil. This is her second dose of the vaccine shot. Her first shot was on December 14, 2021.

Ang sulti ni Mama mas magkagrabe ang side-effects sa ika-duhang vaccine (Mother said the side effects of the second dose of the vaccine was worst than the first.),” Balungcas said of the reason why it took her more than a year to secure her second jab. 

In her family, her mother also did not avail of the second dose of the vaccine. Her father is unvaccinated. Her two younger siblings were the only ones fully-vaccinated in the family because it was required for enrollment in the school.

Balungcas finally decided to get her second vaccine shot because she will take the civil service examinations in March and was informed that vaccination is a requirement in job applications. (Jules Benitez / MindaNews)