BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
The League of Cities of the Philippines committed to implement a more active and responsive vaccination efforts against Covid-19 in their localities.
The statement was issued after the LCP, headed by Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia as national president, thanked the Inter-Agency Task Force Group for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease for approving their request to reclassify local chief executives under Priority Group A1.5 in the ongoing vaccination rollout.
The LCP said they commit to reciprocate the trust and confidence of the IATF in the city mayors with more active and responsive vaccination efforts in their respective localities.
On March 29, Leonardia wrote IATF chairman and Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and asked to reclassify LCEs as A1 priority.
On March 31, Leonardia also wrote directly to President Rodrigo Duterte, appealing for the reclassification of LCEs as Priority A1. In the letter, he highlighted that such reclassification would be a “win-win strategy” for the country’s fight against Covid-19, a press release from the city said.
On April 5, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, chair of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center, issued Advisory No. 26 allowing the vaccination of LCEs in high-risk areas.
Leonardia reached out to DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing, secretary Vince Dizon, and secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., appealing for the inclusion of all city mayors to the A1 category. He continued to lead by example by visiting vaccination centers and organizing a week-long vaccination operation in his city. All these are designed to drive home the point of the critical roles of LCEs in getting the trust of their constituencies to get vaccinated, the press release said.
On April 13, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in her letter addressed to Leonardia, maintained the classification of city mayors as Priority A4, or frontline personnel in essential sectors.
On May 15, Cabotaje issued Advisory No. 40, including governors and mayors as head of the Local Health Board and as chair of the Local Task Force Against Covid-19 in Priority Group A1.
“The 146 cities are delighted with this new development and warmly thanked President Duterte and the members of the IATF for their wisdom and foresight with this decision,” the LCP said.
Some 24 vaccination centers are rolling out Covid-19 jabs, particularly the recently-delivered AstraZeneca brand, from May 14 to 21, in Bacolod City.
The schedule, provided by the city government on Sunday, showed that 22 vaccination hubs in various barangays and schools will mostly open from May 17 to 21 to inoculate individuals from three priority sectors.
The two other centers are based in shopping malls, including SM City Bacolod and Ayala Malls Capitol Central, where the vaccination rollout has been ongoing initially for Sinovac’s CoronaVac in the past week, and for AstraZeneca since Friday.
In a statement, Leonardia said the city government aims to inoculate as many Bacolodnons as possible.
“While our vaccine supply is dependent on the national government allocation, we will try to vaccinate as fast as possible upon the arrival of the vaccines,” he added.
The target vaccinees are the remaining frontline healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), and persons with comorbidities (A3).
On May 14, the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccines started in barangays Villamonte, Mansilingan, Alijis, Punta Taytay, and Mandalagan, and areas under the Barangay 39 cluster and Andres Bonifacio Elementary School cluster.
The rollout between May 17 and 24 will be launched in barangays Montevista, Handumanan, Vista Alegre, Felisa, Estefania, Alangilan, Bata, Banago, Granada, Singcang-Airport, and Taculing (Forest Park), and in areas under the Education and Training Center School cluster, Barangay 38 cluster, and Barangay Pahanocoy cluster.
A total of 6,900 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have been allocated for the 22 vaccination centers in the barangays and the clusters, data of the city government showed.
Existing procedures set by the Emergency Operations Center are being employed for the vaccination sequence, that takes into consideration the order of registration in the city’s database.
Only those who have completed their vaccination registration and have received a call or text from the EOC notifying them of their appointments are being accommodated to avoid overcrowding.
“We expect that by July, when the installments of our locally-funded 650,000 AstraZeneca doses start to arrive, we can even accelerate the whole process,” Leonardia said.
On May 16, Bacolod City logged 53 new cases, 10 new recoveries, and one new death, DOH 6 records showed.
Of the 8,396 total cases, 1,004 are active, 7,161 have recovered, and 230 have died, the DOH added.*with report from PNA