More than 500,000 jabbed on first day of national vax drive
MANILA, Philippines — A total of 547,628 people received the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, the first day of “Bayanihan Bakunahan,” the government’s three-day campaign to inoculate 9 million individuals at 8,000 sites nationwide.
Health Undersecretary and National Vaccination Operations Center chief Myrna Cabotaje said the figure was based on the data submitted by 3 p.m. by 930 out of 1,600 local governments that were supposed to submit reports as well as 2,974 vaccination sites.
But she said the data might not reflect the actual number of those who got jabbed since the submission and transmission of reports were among the problems encountered on the first day of the nationwide campaign.
“We’ll see a better picture tomorrow morning (Tuesday). We’re going to have a meeting with the regional vaccination operation center to address the challenges,” Cabotaje said.
In Zambales province, healthcare workers crossed rivers and climbed mountains to reach remote Aeta communities. Dr. Noel Bueno, the Zambales provincial health director, said that at least 500 Aeta in the upland villages of Buhawen and Aglao in San Marcelino town received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Bueno told the Inquirer that although the two areas had a combined population of 5,636, not everyone was willing to get their shots and they had a hard time convincing other Aeta in Sitio Lomibao, Buhawen.
The lone resident from Lomibao who later showed up at the vaccination site said her fellow Aeta were afraid since they were not used to being inoculated. “We don’t usually get sick here even if we don’t get vaccinated,” Margie Balario said.
In Pampanga province, the Angeles City government dispatched two mobile bus clinics, one on Maharlika Highway near its border with Mabalacat City, and the other beside its boundary with Porac town, to serve as vaccination sites.
Around 50 residents and nonresidents were among the first to get their COVID-19 shots at the mobile bus clinic deployed along the Angeles-Mabalacat border.
In the Ilocos region, at least 700,000 residents were expected to get jabbed during the three-day campaign, according to Dr. Rheuel Bobis, the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 focal person in the area.
“If we reach 700,000 during the three days, we will even surpass our target of 70 percent for the first dose coverage among residents in the region,” Bobis said at a briefing.
To achieve the target, the 408 vaccination sites in the region should inoculate at least 8,000 to 9,000 residents in the next three days, he added.
“We expanded the vaccination sites and made [them] more accessible to the public. We expanded the vaccination teams as well,” said John Paul Aquino, the DOH regional immunization program manager.
Thousands of people also trooped to vaccination sites set up in other provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. (See related story in Regions, Page A9.)In Metro Manila, the Philippine National Police opened its camps to serve as vaccination sites for the three-day nationwide campaign, in addition to 213 other venues in the capital region.
Aside from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) headquarters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig, there are five other camps for the Manila Police District, Northern Police District, Quezon City Police District, Eastern Police District and Southern Police District.
“The camps will be the safest vaccination sites where police personnel are not only prepared for any threats but [are] also fully compliant with safety standards and protocols,” said NCRPO Director Police Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr.
The PNP, on the other hand, has fielded seven vaccination teams made up of 70 PNP Health Service and Medical Reserve Force (MRF) personnel nationwide to assist in Bayanihan Bakunahan.
PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said that of 5,530 MRF members, 347 were trained vaccinators that had been placed on standby should the DOH require more volunteers.
10,000 daily target
In Marikina City, the local government has set a target of 10,000 people a day who will be served in four vaccination sites—Marikina Sports Complex for pediatric vaccination, Marikina Convention Center for booster shots, Sto. Niño Elementary School for persons with comorbidities, and Marikina Elementary School for first dose recipients.
“We received 30,000 vaccines and our target per day is to inoculate 10,000 [individuals] so that Marikina can contribute 30,000 for the national vaccination rollout,” Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said.
He added that they were expecting walk-ins who were nonresidents because 425,000 out of 488,000 individuals in Marikina were already fully vaccinated, allowing the city to “surpass the target for herd immunity.”
For the Muntinlupa local government, the goal was to vaccinate 5,000 to 8,000 residents during the three-day vaccination campaign, according to Maria Rochelle Abat, the city’s national immunization program coordinator for COVID-19.
All major and satellite vaccination sites would be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., including SM Center Muntinlupa, Ayala Malls South Park, Festival Mall, Cupang Health Center, and Sucat covered court.
The city-run Ospital ng Muntinlupa would also be open but only for pediatric vaccinations.
President Duterte, who led the ceremonial launch of Bayanihan Bakunahan at SM Masinag in Antipolo City, called it “our single biggest push to fast-track vaccination and reach our target of 70-percent population protection nationwide.”
By the end of 2021, he said some 54 million Filipinos were expected to be fully vaccinated.
“I call on every Filipino for your continued cooperation in fighting against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and continuing to follow our minimum public health standards. It is very important for us to take a whole-of-nation approach to win against the coronavirus that has sorely plagued our country for almost two years,” Mr. Duterte added.
Carlito Galvez Jr., the country’s vaccination czar, said that news about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had made the campaign more vital, telling CNN Philippines that it was better to be prepared.
—WITH REPORTS FROM JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT, JUN MALIG, JOHN MICHAEL MUGAS, JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE, JEROME ANING AND REUTERS
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