Only 40% of Cebu’s target jabbed in special vax drive

ONLY 16,000 individuals have so far been vaccinated against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the first two days of the special vaccination days in Cebu Province.This is just 40 percent of the 40,000 target eligible population to vaccinate in the three-day house-to-house vaccination focusing on senior citizens in 12 local government units (LGUs), which runs from March 29 to 31.The three-day special vaccination activity targets LGUs with the most number of unvaccinated senior citizens: Balamban, Bantayan, Barili, Carcar City, Daanbantayan, Dalaguete, Danao City, Pinamungajan, San Fernando, San Francisco, Toledo and Tuburan.Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, chief pathologist of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7) and spokesperson of the Visayas Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC), said about 16,008 persons were vaccinated in Cebu Province in the first two days, of whom 703 were senior citizens.Cebu Province does not include the three highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.Despite the low turnout, Loreche said: “We are not really worried because it’s just the beginning of this drive to encourage more people in our province to get vaccinated. I’m sure that somehow we can catch up, maybe it’s been a bit slow, but we’ll still get there.”On the estimate of the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) that there were still one million unvaccinated persons in Cebu province as of March 28, Loreche said, “Yes, that’s more or less an accurate number of the unvaccinated.”However, she said factors to be considered were that Cebu province was not among the priority provinces at the start of the vaccination program so it still has some catching up to do, and that Cebu was hit by Typhoon Odette (Rai) last Dec. 16, shifting LGUs’ priorities from vaccination to rebuilding of infrastructure and livelihood.Loreche added that most of the unvaccinated lived in far-flung areas where they believed vaccination was not needed as they lived far from each other.As for the elderly, she said: “The elderly think they don’t need a vaccine as they don’t mingle or attend gatherings or go out to the malls. And once they hear of an adverse event post-vaccination, they tend to believe the stories and become fearful of the vaccine.”Loreche said the data needed to be scrutinized further too as “due to the contiguity and interconnectivity of the province to the other highly urbanized cities,” it was possible that residents of the Province “had their vaccination in the nearby cities and thus the number is not reflected in the accomplishment of the Province.”“However, the efforts now of house to house, barangay and sitio level vaccination drives will definitely improve the performance and cut down the numbers of the unvaccinated. We are very grateful for the support of the NVOC and the National Government for the NVD (National Vaccination Days) focusing on the province,” she said.PBB ends driveAlso on Thursday, March 31, Project Balik Buhay (PBB) announced that it had ended its 11-month vaccination initiative.Its primary objective had been to help augment the capacity of the government vaccination sites during the initial rollout in early 2021. The parallel rollout was done through the efforts of private sector partners and benefactors to supplement the LGU efforts, with the primary goal of helping to vaccinate the employed sector and reopen the economy as quickly as possible.PBB’s vaccination initiative ran from April 2021 to March 2022 across 17 privately managed PBB Vaccination Centers, in support of the National Government Vaccination Program, at no cost to the government or to the vaccinees, the PBB said in a statement.The initiative came amid the request of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases-Visayas, DOH 7 and the VVOC, it said.“As of March 30, 2022, Project Balik Buhay administered a total of 297,593 primary and booster doses from 346,565 employees and dependents of 3,430 registered companies, organizations, micro-establishments and people’s associations from the Metro Cebu LGUs,” it said.Some 136,089 individuals received their first dose, while 134,162 individuals received their second dose and 27,342 booster doses were administered through PBB, it said.CV as laggardDr. Van Phillip Baton, DOH 7 Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases program manager, earlier said Central Visayas was lagging behind other regions in vaccination coverage of senior citizens.As of Monday, March 28, Baton said, Central Visayas had vaccinated only 50.9 percent of the targeted 85 percent of the senior citizens’ projected population.He said Cebu was at 39.8 percent while Bohol and Negros Oriental were at 50.3 percent and 45.1 percent vaccination coverage, respectively.To be deescalated to Alert Level 1 status, each LGU must jab 85 percent of its eligible senior citizens over 80 percent of the total projected population, while it also needs to vaccinate 70 percent of the 85 percent total eligible population.