Baguio to vaccinate workers from neighboring Benguet towns
BAGUIO CITY—Anticipating a downtrend in COVID-19 cases, the city government is ready to widen its vaccination program to include workers living in neighboring towns in Benguet province, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said on Monday.
Many of these Benguet residents are employed or do business in the city and “helping them will also help the city [since] we are, after all, one community,” Magalong said.
Baguio and the adjoining towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay make up a 20-year-old economic collaboration called Blistt.
Due to the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, a number of Baguio’s working population between 22 and 49 years old have been contracting COVID-19.
Magalong said Benguet workers who frequently crossed borders would be required to secure certifications from their hometowns so they could receive their jabs in Baguio vaccination sites.
“We have the facilities and since they come here daily or weekly, we thought it best that they get inoculated in Baguio instead,” he said.
The mayor said more than 70 percent (207,626) of the city’s eligible 281,000 population had received either their first or full jabs. Those who have completed their two-stage inoculations as of Sunday reached 163,554, or 58 percent of the target population.
An accelerated vaccination drive would help Baguio achieve herd immunity by year-end, or surpass it by vaccinating 95 percent of the city’s 366,358 population based on the 2020 census, Magalong said.
The city is prepared to inoculate teenagers age 15 to 17 years old after the National COVID-19 Task Force concludes a pilot vaccination program in Metro Manila, he added.
Benguet vaccinations have been trailing behind Baguio partly due to vaccine supply delays, Magalong said.
Data showed that at least 75,618 residents throughout Benguet province have been fully vaccinated as of Oct. 8 while 73,079 were given their first jabs out of its eligible population of 338,754. Benguet’s population is 460,683 (per the 2020 census).
Around 15,000 people from other provinces managed to get vaccinated by staying with relatives and pretending to be Baguio residents, Magalong said.
“But in hindsight, it increased the number of vaccinated Filipinos,” he added.
The mayor said there could be a downtrend in Baguio infections within the week if a slowdown, which was first detected on Sept. 22, would be sustained.
As of Sunday, Baguio hospitals have been treating 4,275 active COVID-19 cases, including 222 new patients, which raised its total number of cases to 27,264.
Baguio also lost 555 patients, although Magalong said the number of elderly who died from COVID-19 complications had gone down.
—VINCENT CABREZA INQ
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