The mayors of Bacolod City and Cadiz City have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center Advisory No. 26 granted local chief executives (LCEs) in critical and high risk areas permission to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Regional Director Juan Jovian Ingeniero of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Western Visayas said Sunday, April 18.
Among those qualified for vaccination are Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and mayors Evelio Leonardia of Bacolod City, Salvador Escalante – Cadiz City, Victor Gerardo Rojas – Murcia, Neil Lizares – Talisay City, Nicholas Yulo – Bago City, Maria Gina Montilla Lizares – Sipalay City and Alejandro Mirasol – Binalbagan town, Ingeniero said.
Leonardia received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Bacolod City Government Center Saturday, April 17, with several medical frontliners of the city.
He was vaccinated by Dr. Edwin Miraflor Jr., officer-in-charge of the Bacolod City Health Office.
“I felt morally bound to use the AstraZeneca vaccine because this is the brand that Bacolod City ordered. Despite what others say, it is still legitimate, highly reliable, and reasonably priced,” Leonardia said.
“The city government has contracted 650,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for 325,000 Bacolodnons. That is about 76 percent of our vaccinable population,” Leonardia said.
“This vaccination is our only way out of this pandemic and the means to restart our economic recovery,” Leonardia said.
Escalante said he received his first dose of the Sinovac vaccine on Thursday, April 15.
Lacson said he has asked the Provincial Health Office to schedule him for vaccination with other senior citizens.
“I am waiting for the PHO to tell me when,” he said.
Rojas, who has tested positive for COVID-19, is in quarantine at the Mambukal Resort in Murcia.
The mayors of Talisay, Bago and Sipalay cities and Binalbagan town told DIGICAST NEGROS they have not been vaccinated yet.
Lizares said he will ask the Talisay city health officer when he can be vaccinated because right now they are giving priority to health frontliners.
Yulo said he may be vaccinated next week.
Leonardia, national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), said he wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte on March 31, “appealing for the reclassification and inclusion of LCEs among frontline workers in Priority Group A1 because it is a win-win strategy.”
“This risk is unavoidable because LCEs are greatly exposed to the contagion due to the magnitude and demands of their work,” he said.
LCEs are essential frontliners, too, and need to be protected immediately through vaccination, he said.
Leonardia said LCEs must also be inoculated now rather than later to minimize the virus’s spread because, unknowingly, these LCEs could already be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
Cities are natural epicenters of the pandemic with their dense populations, and city mayors who manage them should get this protection through vaccination, Leonardia said.
Leonardia also said that LCEs have a huge role in building vaccine confidence among their constituents.
“If they are reclassified as Priority Group A1 and get vaccinated ahead, then they could serve as the local vaccine champions, examples, and models.”
Leonardia, who is also executive vice president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, said that ULAP already approved a resolution to appeal for the inclusion of all other LGU officials in Priority Group A1.*