Bacolod City got the highest score among provincial and city governments in Western Visayas that have already submitted their coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination plan to the Department of Health, and is all set, Dr. Mary Jane Roches Juanico, DOH-Western Visayas infectious disease cluster head, said today, February 25.
Bacolod City has a rating of 75.9 percent, Capiz – 53.4, and Iloilo province – 43 percent, Juanico confirmed to DIGICAST NEGROS.
“We are ready, except that the vaccines have not arrived yet,” said Bacolod City Administrator Em Ang, who is also the Emergency Operations Center Task Force executive director.
Bacolod City’s COVID-19 vaccination education campaign is ongoing, Ang also said.
“I have to be candid, the number of those who have registered from the barangays is still not encouraging”, she said.
They have no problem with number of registrants from the subdivisions, their problem is at the purok level where residents are hesitant and taking a wait and see attitude, Ang added.
“Apparently what they need is more information about the vaccine”, she said, because of so much fake news on social media.
“The whole world has been praying for this vaccine, and now it’s here, let’s take advantage of it so we can get herd immunity and return to normal life,” she said.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia on Wednesday, February 24, also announced that the DOH had approved the COVID-19 vaccination plan of Bacolod City.
“We were informed by the Department of Health that our vaccination plan is okay, it’s a go, so we are set,” said Leonardia, who was one of the speakers at the Livable Cities Challenge Laboratory virtual session on “Getting Cities Ready for Vaccines” Wednesday.
Leonardia said he has been telling Bacolodnons that vaccination is the answer to a return to normal life. “As soon as we get to normalize, we will be back to action, we will be back to business, and Bacolod will continue to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the Philippines,” he said.
Leonardia, who is also president of the League of City of the Philippines, said of Bacolod City’s 624, 987 population, 424,992 of 68 percent of its population will be covered by the mass COVID-19 vaccination program.
The remaining 199,995 are below 18 years old and are not covered by the program.
Bacolod City is buying 650,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for 325,000 persons or 76 percent of its population covered by its mass vaccination drive.
Bacolod signed an agreement to purchase the vaccines from AstraZeneca on January 7, making it the second LGU in the country to have closed a deal with a pharmaceutical firm, and has paid the P31 million initial down payment, Leonardia said.
The vaccines for the 99,992 other residents will come from additional purchases and the supply to be provided by the national government, he said.
The target population for vaccination covered in Phase 1 are workers in frontline health services -12,462, Phase 2 all senior citizens – 66,659, Phase 3 indigent population – 109,453, Phase 4 military and uniformed personnel – 959, Phase 5 other frontline workers and special populations – 4,736 and Phase 6 remaining population – 230,723, he said.
Leonardia said a Bacolod COVID-19 Vaccination Council, one of the first established by a local government unit in the country, was created on December 22 to prepare for the mass vaccination drive to be undertaken with a strong private-public partnership.
Bacolod has identified 27 vaccination centers that are estimated to be able to vaccinate 13,500 residents a day, he said.
But if they include 13 more vaccination centers offered by the private sector to have a total of 40, they will be able to vaccinate 20,000 persons a day, he said.
Registration for vaccination is being undertaken at the barangay level and online, and a cold storage facility at the city hall is being set up that can accommodate 2 million vaccine doses at any given time, he said.
Massive information and education drive is ongoing on the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, including a Facebook live campaign, he said, stressing that everyone should be vaccinated.
Vaccination simulation exercises are also being undertaken because practice makes perfect, he said.
Leonardia said last year 100 percent of Bacolod City’s barangays were hit by COVID-19 but it is now down to 20 percent of the barangays with only 24 active cases as of today.
Guillermo Luz, Livable Cities Philippines chair, thanked Leonardia for a “very impressive and detailed” vaccination program and congratulated him for the DOH approval of the city’s vaccination plan.*