The three-day National Vaccination Days, declared by the national government as a collective “Bayanihan, Bakuhanan” drive to further push up the number of jabs including booster shots, starts today, Nov. 29, 2021. Originally, the target vaccination output was 15 million, or at five million a day. With last minute adjustments due to a shortage in ancillary supplies, the target was pushed down to nine million, or three million jabs a day.
Whether it is 15 million or nine million, what is commendable is the government’s assertiveness to have as many Filipinos protected with the vaccine. In fact, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) even reminded government agencies and the private sector about Proclamation No. 1253, signed by President Duterte, that “employees and workers of the government and the private sector, who will be vaccinated during the period, shall not be considered absent from their work, provided that they present proof of vaccination to their respective employers.”
Nov. 29 and Dec. 1, Malacañang said, are “special working days” while Nov. 30 is a regular holiday commemorating Andres Bonifacio’s birth anniversary. Those who are yet to be vaccinated, or have no internet access, should have no excuses not to get a jab as walk-in visitors will even be accepted in some vaccination centers in NCR and the 16 participating regions outside NCR.
All LGUs are mandated to use “all resources, stakeholders, and constituents within their areas of jurisdiction to achieve the objectives of the National Vaccination Days.” With this, “all health workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists, and medical technologists, are called upon to extend their full support and cooperation in providing COVID-19 vaccination during the three-day campaign.” There is, indeed, no rhyme or reason not to get a jab after there were no reports and proofs of fatal side effects or deaths from millions all over the world who had received the vaccine.
The three-day vaccination drive is in line with the country’s aim to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the total population. Recent data showed at least 35 million Filipinos fully vaccinated, with 80,000 plus vaccines administered as booster shots to qualified recipients. It would take a lot more effort on the part of the government and cooperation of the population to reach herd immunity by year end, nevertheless all initiatives are being done to vaccinate all citizens, especially as the World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that COVID vaccines “reduce transmission of the dominant Delta variant by about 40 percent.”
Even with the efficacy of the vaccines, the WHO warned countries about letting their citizens fall into a false sense of security, now that a new and more potentially dangerous Omicron variant is spreading.
“If you are vaccinated, you have a much lower risk of severe disease and death but you are still at risk of being infected and infecting others. We cannot say this clearly enough: even if you are vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself, and infecting someone else who could die,” the WHO said.
With this, the government must have a two-pronged strategy; first, by making sure the vaccines go into the arms of the majority as soon (or as fast) as possible; and second, by continuously and strictly enforcing the health protocols.
No one can have his or her guard down as long as there are still unvaccinated individuals in your community, school, workplace, and more importantly, your home. Nobody is safe until everyone is safe, especially as we face this looming Omicron menace, which threatens to upend all the progress we have made thus far.