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Bacolod halts vaccine walk-ins as crowds defy health protocols

Huge crowds, many defying health protocols, trooped to Bacolod City malls Monday, July 26, for COVID-19 jabs in what was described as a “recipe for disaster.”

The majority did not observe physical distancing and some were seen without face shields or with their face masks down.

The buildup of crowds was noted since late last week following an announcement by the city government Thursday, July 22, that walk-in vaccinees would be allowed.

City Administrator Em Ang, Emergency Operations Center executive director, announced by midday Monday that the vaccination centers at Ayala Malls Capitol Central, Robinsons Place, and SMX Convention Center had reached their maximum number of vaccinees for the day.

Beginning Tuesday, July 27, “we regret that we will not be able to cater to walk-ins anymore”, she said.

She urged the public who must register online for vaccination to wait to be notified of their schedule through text by the Vaccination Team.

The public may also go to the barangay vaccination centers to avail of free COVID-19 vaccines, she added.

Ang said they tried to disperse the crowds waiting in line to be vaccinated at the SMX Contention Center but they would not cooperate despite the presence of eight policemen and the mall security.

They tried to accommodate as many possible but the lines were just too long, the mall management was afraid there would be a stampede because those in line would not listen despite their pleadings, she said.

“It looked like a breeding ground for the virus,” she said.

She said the huge crowds were also caused because the vaccination of the COVID-19 second doses was delayed by a week.

The huge crowds are a good indication that vaccine acceptance has tremendously improved in Bacolod City, which will reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 or deaths, she said.

Ang said COVID deaths in Bacolod City this month have dropped by more than 50 percent.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia said that more than 100,000 Bacolodnons have already been vaccinated, with about 30,000 fully vaccinated.

“This is good news. These are impressive figures. We know we will not stop at this. We will continue this, we will hasten this so we can vaccinate more people,” he added.

Leonardia appealed to Bacolodnons lining up at vaccination centers to observe social distancing and other health protocols at all times, especially with the Delta variant threat.

The mayor said he has also asked the police to ensure that health protocols are observed at vaccination centers.*

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