Vaccination of minors seen as path to herd immunity in Cagayan de Oro | Inquirer News
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Vaccination of minors seen as path to herd immunity in Cagayan de Oro

/ 05:00 AM October 28, 2021

ILIGAN CITY, Lanao del Norte, Philippines — Cagayan de Oro City will roll out vaccines for individuals aged 12 to 17 starting on Friday in a bid to ramp up vaccination coverage and achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 before the year ends.

Dr. Ted Yu, medical officer of the City Health Office (CHO), said priority are those with comorbidities as certified by a doctor, and a clearance for vaccination by a pediatrician.

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Yu said those who wanted to be inoculated would need to preregister so that they could be given a schedule to go to the government-run J.R. Borja General Hospital where vaccine shots would be administered.

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said he expected the vaccine rollout for adolescents to further bring the city closer to herd immunity which the local government earlier set to achieve just before Christmas, or in the next eight weeks.

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As of Oct. 26, at least 513,170 people had been inoculated. Records showed that 214,709 had been fully vaccinated while 298,461 were awaiting the final dose.

With an estimated population of 750,000, the city’s herd immunity hinges on inoculating 525,000 although Moreno said they would continue to administer vaccines as long as there was demand.

In a given day, between 5,000 and 7,000 vaccines are administered in the city through 12 inoculation sites, among which are schools, malls, hospitals and other public facilities. The CHO has also deployed mobile vaccination teams to remote areas.

The vaccination sites used to only cater to preregistered recipients. Now, walk-in is allowed, driving more people to seek the vaccine shots.

Drop in infections, deaths

Dr. Gina Itchon, research head of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, credits the vaccination drive for the radical drop in the number of infections in the city.

“The sustained reduction of COVID-19 cases is largely because of the accelerated vaccination campaign. We cannot possibly have achieved this if we relied solely on stringent compliance with minimum public health standards,” Itchon said.

“All the vaccines do work and we are seeing that without vaccination, it would take us six months to lower our cases,” she added.

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CHO data showed that the number of COVID-19 infections started to drop to less than 100 a day on Sept. 16. During the surge in cases that started in June, the daily average had been more than 100.

Within October, the highest daily infection was only 50 on Oct. 7, while the rest were less than 40 with the lowest, so far, at six on Oct. 25.

Deaths due to COVID-19 have also dropped, from 69 in September to only five as of Oct. 26. No death had been recorded from Oct. 14 to Oct. 26.

Dr. David Mendoza of the Department of Health (DOH) in the region, said 96 percent of those who died of COVID-19 in Northern Mindanao were unvaccinated.

Vaccine hesitancy

In Davao City, Mindanao’s premier urban center, the local government is not hopeful that the city will achieve its target for herd immunity in November despite the growing number of vaccinated residents.

Mayor Sara Duterte said on Monday that the local government and its health workers had been struggling to reach the remaining number of residents needed to meet its target.

“My opinion is that I do not think we can achieve it by November because the vaccination has slowed down. We are facing challenges in finding people who want to be vaccinated,” Duterte said.

A total of 746,259 residents in the city had been fully vaccinated, still way below the 1.2 million targeted to be vaccinated for the city to achieve herd immunity. The mayor said 861,293 of the population had received the first dose of the vaccine.

Duterte said the rate of coverage in a given day had slowed down because of a decrease in the expected number of people going to vaccination centers.

“What we are doing now is sweeping the barangays. We have teams who are actively searching for people in the communities to convince them to get vaccinated,” she said.

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