CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) Northern Mindanao (Region 10) is confident it will achieve its target on the Covid-19 vaccination coverage well within the first 100 days of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in office.
Dr. Ellenietta Gamolo, assistant director of DOH-10, said during the launching of DOH’s Konsultayo Forum on Friday, August 5 that achieving the target is possible with the full support and cooperation of all local government units (LGUs) in Northern Mindanao region.
“Kasi ang atong uban LGUs, nakaabot naman hapit. So baka pwede ra makaabot ta tanan (Because other LGUs are almost there [referring to the vaccination target]. So, maybe we can all achieve [the target] because we don’t want to leave anybody behind,” said Gamolo.
Under the presidential directives, the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) has been tasked to ensure all units of the DOH, including the LGUs and other stakeholders to reach the 90 percent coverage for the primary series among all A2 (Senior Citizens) category, and 50 percent vaccination coverage for first booster vaccination for the general population in the first 100 days of the new administration.
According to the data from the DOH-10 as of August 4, the region still has 73.07 percent vaccination coverage for senior citizens. The region still needs to achieve 17 percent coverage to achieve the target.
Out of the five provinces and two highly urbanized cities, only Iligan City has reached the 90 percent target with 90.30 percent vaccination coverage as of August 4. The city of Cagayan de Oro and the province of Camiguin both have above 80 percent coverage.
For the first booster vaccination of the general population (12 years old and above), the region still has 13.09 percent vaccination coverage, which is still far from the 50 percent target.
If target would not be achieved
The 100-day directive started on the first day President Marcos Jr assumed office and it will end on October 8, 2022. The DOH-10 expressed hope that they would achieve the target.
Under also the Presidential directives, if the target on the vaccination coverage would be achieved, this shall be the main condition to safely remove the face mask mandate; to limit the use of alert level system; prepare all the students for the face to face classes; and to remove all travel restrictions, according to Dr. Ina Grace Chiu, the Covid-19 vaccination coordinator of Cagayan de Oro City Health Office.
When asked what would happen if the target would not be achieved, Gamolo said there could possibly be changes in the protocols but the wearing of face masks would probably stay.
“Kung dili gyud (if not [referring to the possibility of not achieving the target]), worse comes to worst, there will still be changes in the protocols but probably the mask will stay. Actually, not just protecting ourselves but we also protect our family, our community when we wear the mask,” she said.
Apart from vaccination in the sites, mobile vaccination in the community and other vaccination strategies, the DOH-10 also urged LGUs to visit the different offices for inoculating employees who were unable to leave their work.
Vaccination to fight ‘Centaurus’
Even though it sounds boring for some people, the DOH-10 has reiterated that vaccination remains to be one of the most effective ways to avoid any variant and prevent severe cases of Covid-19, apart from following the minimum public health standards.
This was emphasized by DOH-10 Infectious Disease Cluster head Dr. Wellaflor Kindom-Brito when asked about the preventative measures implemented by the DOH regional office 10 against the more transmissible Covid-19 Omicron sub-variant BA 2.75 also known as ‘Centaurus.’
“That’s why [DOH] always gyud gina-promote ang (the) vaccination sa (to) whatever Department of Health activities nato sama aning (we have such as this) Konsultayo,” Brito said.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire reported the first two cases of more Omicron sub-variant BA 2.75 on Saturday, August 2. The two cases are from Western Visayas and both of them had already recovered.
BA.2.75 is another Omicron sub-variant that was first detected in India in May and has since spread to around 10 countries, including the United States and Australia.
Initial studies showed that BA.2.75 has multiple mutations in its spike protein, which is responsible for the virus’ transmissibility. The said subvariant also has more potential to evade vaccine protection.
DOH-10 launches ‘Konsultayo’ forum
The Konsultayo forum by the DOH, which was launched Friday, August 5 at one of the malls here, aims to increase the people’s health seeking behavior during Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr. David Mendoza, the DOH-10 Local Health Support Division chief, said that the health seeking behavior of the individual is low during the pandemic as people are afraid to go to the hospital because of fear of Covid-19 infection.
“Once they went to the hospital [and being] admitted, automatic Covid na dayon (it becomes Covid automatically). That is why they don’t want to be tested. Even if they were sick, ingon lang (they would just say) it’s just ordinary flu. Pero (but) [when] they go to the hospital [and being] na-test (tested), ay Covid pala (it is Covid),” Mendoza stressed.
The Konsultayo has seven priority areas. These include diet and exercise; environmental health; vaccine and immunization; substance use; mental health; sexual and reproductive health; and violence and injury prevention.
This is part of the DOH’s commitment to strengthen the health promotion and also to provide accurate information with the right sources to combat the proliferation of fake news.
Brito echoed Mendoza’s statement and explained that health promotion is essential to improve the health seeking behavior of every individual.
The Konsultayo will be conducted every second and fourth Thursday of the month, at 2 p.m. and it will be broadcast live through the official Facebook page of the DOH-10.