Baguio welcomes visitors who need COVID-19 jabs
BAGUIO CITY—The local government is opening its doors to all travelers who need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 now that more than 95 percent of the city’s adult population have been fully inoculated against the disease, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said on Wednesday.
The new policy would help the country speed up its vaccination drive, said Magalong on the sidelines of an official visit here by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat and vaccination czar Vivencio Dizon.
The policy is an extension of Baguio’s earlier decision to vaccinate workers who live in neighboring Benguet towns.
Visitors, Magalong said, are welcome to take their jabs in the city whether they are in Baguio for leisure or essential travel, such as trade or other business transactions.
But the policy may not be enforced while Baguio remains under alert level 3, the third most stringent in the five-tier alert level system in the country.
The city government also needs to set up a mechanism to track vaccinations provided to nonresidents “because they would need to register first,” the mayor said.
Magalong had eased restrictions on tourists last year but only for fully vaccinated people.
After enjoying a tourism boom during the Christmas holiday, the city government restored strict border guidelines, such as requiring travelers to present negative COVID-19 test results when local infections again shot up to as high as 4,000 active cases.
It was also not clear whether vaccination booths would be set up at Baguio’s borders under its open-door policy.
Magalong met recently with Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje and Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief of the national pandemic response task force, regarding excess vaccines bought by 25 local governments like Baguio.
Magalong said these towns and cities purchased the AstraZeneca vaccine through a tripartite agreement facilitated by the national government at the start of 2021. But due to supply and distribution delays, the vaccines arrived late.
To date, 97,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have been received and administered in the city out of the 380,000 doses bought by the local government, said Dr. Rowena Galpo, city health services officer, during a session of the city council on Monday.
The remaining 283,000 doses are scheduled to arrive here this month and will be included in a list of vaccines reserved for booster shots or second doses, she said.
Aside from AstraZeneca, Baguio administered 99,710 doses of different brands, which were supplied by the national government and other donors.
In principle, “any excess [doses] will be reallocated through the Department of Health,” Galpo told the council.—VINCENT CABREZA
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