Galvez: ‘Mini’ COVID-19 surge possible in BARMM due to low vax turnout
MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) have warned of a possible “mini surge” of COVID-19 infections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) amid the low vaccination turnout in the region, especially as the Ramadan has started, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has said.
In a briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte, Galvez said only over 950,000 individuals of the 3.5 million target population (25%) in BARMM are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. With this, BARMM is the lowest among the country’s 17 regions in terms of vaccination coverage.
“Binigyan din tayo ng alarma at warning ng WHO, ito pong mababang vaccination sa BARMM. Unang-una po sa lahat, nag-start na po tayo ng celebration ng Ramadan at natatakot po ang WHO at saka ‘yung DOH na baka magkaroon tayo ng tinatawag na mini surge dito sa area ng BARMM dahil napakababa pa po ng coverage,” Galvez said on Tuesday.
(We were given an alarm and warning by WHO with the low vaccination coverage in BARMM. First of all, we have started the celebration of Ramadan and the WHO and DOH expressed worry that there will be a mini surge in the area because of the low vaccine coverage.)
Among the chief challenges that the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program in BARMM include misinformation, the proliferation of anti-vaxxers on social media and accessibility issues.
He said fake news that is being spread by anti-vaxxers in social media to discourage people from BARMM from getting vaccinated. Another hurdle is that some people refuse to get inoculated due to cultural beliefs, as some residents believe that COVID-19 vaccines are not “halal,” Galvez added.
He suggested that local government units and national units should have more data encoders, vaccination teams, and social media mobilizers to boost vaccine confidence and coverage among the residents.
Galvez also proposed that all masjid and mosques be turned into COVID-19 vaccination sites.
“During Friday, pagsamba ng ating mga kababayan na Muslim, gagawing vaccination sites itong mga mosques and masjids. Then social preparation, gagawin natin yan the whole month of Ramadan,” he said.
(During Friday, when our Filipino Muslims are worshipping, we will turn the mosques and masjids into vaccination sites. We will do this for the whole month of Ramadan.)
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