DOH-Bicol urges LGUs to step up vax program

(PNA file photo by Avito Dalan)

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol has raised concern over the sluggish coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination coverage of medical front-liners in various local government units (LGUs) in the region.

Dr. Rita Mae Ang-Bon, DOH Covid-19 program coordinator, in a media briefing on Wednesday, urged LGUs to speed up their inoculation program, noting that the region is lagging behind in its target coverage as compared to other regions.

“Bicol is second from the bottom as compared to other regions in the country. Marami na mga regions naka attain na ng 85 to 95 percent coverage in their vaccination programs,” she said.

Ang-Bon said Bicol has only attained a 62 percent vaccine coverage for the A1 priority group that includes frontline workers in public and private hospitals, infirmaries, quarantine and isolation facilities, rural health units and offices, stand-alone facilities, clinics, and diagnostic centers, dental clinics, dialysis centers, and Covid-19 testing laboratories.

She also dismissed reports that the National Vaccine Operation Center (NVOC) has warned that it would suspend additional vaccine rollout to regions that fail to meet their target coverage.

She said what the NVOC wanted was for the regions to focus on increasing the vaccination coverage for the A1 group.

“The challenge for the LGUs is to utilize the remaining vaccines for A1 in order to increase coverage to at least 85 percent,” Ang-Bon said.

Citing the DOH data, she said currently, 113,931 persons have been inoculated with either first or second doses of vaccines in Bicol, which is only 2.6 percent of the 3.6 million 18 years old and above target population.

As for vaccine deployment and utilization, Albay ranked first with 14,614 jabs or 89 percent coverage rate; followed by Camarines Norte with 6,430 doses or 85 percent coverage.

Failing to meet the minimum coverage mark are Catanduanes with 5,687 doses or 62 percent coverage; followed by Sorsogon with 11,616 jabs at 61 percent coverage; Camarines Sur, 27,687 jabs for a 56 percent coverage; and Masbate, 16,344 doses at 40 percent coverage.

Ang-Bon challenged local government units to intensify their vaccination rollout by looking back at their master list and convincing health frontliners who are still undecided, to receive the jabs.

She noted that a low vaccination coverage rate would entail serious consequences such as increased risk of the infection among health workers, more community lockdowns, and health facilities being overwhelmed with patients.

On Monday, Bicol logged 103 recoveries from Covid-19 as well as 220 new cases, the highest so far since last week. The number pushed to 3,131 the total active cases.

DOH tracker showed nearly 11,000 cumulative cases in the region since March last year, with 7,456 recoveries and 356 deaths. (PNA)

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