Authorities to bring COVID-19 jabs down to the barangays- DILG spox

A new strategy to ramp up the national vaccination program is in the offing.

Authorities will bring the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) vaccines in the barangays as the country faces the herculean challenge of ramping up the program and enticing more people to get inoculated in the areas outside Metro Manila, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said Saturday, Nov. 6.

“Sa NCR (National Capital Region) wala tayong problema diyan almost 100 percent na tayo naka first dose so napakagandang balita sa ating mga kababayan,’’ Malaya said.

Based on the feedback from the ground, Malaya noted that spending time and transportation fares to reach the vaccination sites discourage people from getting the COVID-19 dose.

Some local officials recognized these roadblocks even if many individuals want to get injected by the COVID-19 vaccines as time and money are major issues for many people especially the impoverished groups.

“Kasi ako ngayon nasa Naga City. Kahapon (Nov. 5) ako ay nasa Sorsogon City. Ikot ikot ako dito sa buong kabicolan kasi medyo mababa pa ang vaccination (rate) dito. Ang gagawin natin strategy is dadalhin natin yung mga bakuna sa mga barangay. (Currently I am in Naga City. Yesterday I was in Sorsogon City. I am making the rounds in the Bicol Region because the vaccination rate here is quite low. The strategy we are going to employ is to bring the vaccines to the barangays),’’ he noted in a GMA News interview.

The DILG spokesperson also noted that providing incentives is being looked at to encourage more people to get vaccinated with some mayors already giving freebies to their constituents who get inoculated against COVID-19.

“Meron po tatlo o apat na mayor sa Camarines Sur. Yun po ang ang gagawin nila. May dalawang kilong bigas sa bawat magpapabakuna. Doon naman sa ibang LGUs (local government units), sa Barcelona, Sorsogon ay magbibigay ng cash. May kasamang bigas at may kasamang cash na P100 or P200 para mahikayat ang mga ating mga kababayan sa mga kanayunan para magpaakuna (There are three or four mayors in Camarines Sur. That is what they are going to do. Two kilos of rice will be given to each person who gets vaccinated. In the other LGUs, in Barcelona, Sorsogon cash will be handed out. This includes rice and P100 or P200 cash to entice the people in the neighborhood to be injected),’’ he added.

Malaya admitted that previously the lack of COVID-19 vaccine supply is a major factor for the low vaccination rate in the provinces but it has been resolved and now ‘we are expecting a lot of

deliveries moving forward’ and the doses need to be injected.

He also identified two major issues namely vaccine hesitancy and vaccine preference as obstacles that cause unsatisfactory COVID-19 vaccination rate accomplishments in the provinces.

Stressing his point, Malaya noticed the long queues where Pfizer jabs are injected compared to that of the Sinovac vaccines.

“Kapag Pfizer (vaccine) ang tinuturok naku blockbuster, ang haba ng pila pero kapag Sinovac ang binibigay na bakuna nilalangaw (If Pfizer is injected it is a blockbuster. There is a long line. But people hardly turn up the line if it is Sinovac),’’ Malaya noted

Aside from the Bicol Region, Malaya disclosed that the Bangsomoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) also a low COVID-19 vaccination performance rate. (Chito A. Chavez) .