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Preps ongoing for COVID vaccine rollout in Cebu

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital | January 25,2021 - 04:21 PM

Preps ongoing for COVID vaccine rollout in Cebu

A healthcare worker prepares a Pfizer coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

CEBU CITY, Philippines–Preparations are now ongoing for the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) inoculation program here.

The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), for their part, want to do a simulation on how the rollout would be conducted.

“We are planning to hold a simulation as part of our ongoing preparations for the COVID-19 vaccination program,” said Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of DOH-7, in a virtual press conference on Monday, January 25, 2021.

“We are really busy preparing for the rollout of the vaccines. But before we can actually do so, we have to iron out everything,” she added.

Cebu City, on the other hand, is doing an education-information drive and profiling of individuals to be prioritized for the inoculation program.

Dr. Michelle Linsalata, assistant city health officer, said in a separate interview that they decided, among other things, to first implement an education campaign designed to convince residents here to get vaccinated.

“We are aware of the existence of people who feared getting vaccines because of unfounded claims from social media and other sources. And it’s one of our biggest challenges in order for the vaccination to be successful,” said Linsalata in a mix of English and Cebuano.

Cebu City was chosen as one of the ‘priority areas’ in the country for the government’s COVID-19 inoculation initiative.

Read: Cebu City tagged as priority for COVID-19 vaccines

But both Loreche and Linsalata said a huge portion of the city’s population, at least 60 percent of the actual count, need to be vaccinated in order to render the program effective.

“We have to vaccinate at least 60 percent of the entire population here to achieve herd immunity, and that’s what we want to happen otherwise, it would be a waste of time and effort,” Loreche explained.

“Why do we have to make such huge preparations for the COVID vaccine unlike other vaccines? It’s because of its magnitude. We have to simultaneously vaccinate a large number of individuals,” she added.

Based on the 2015 census, Cebu City has a population of over 900,000 residents.

The city government has allocated P500 million in their 2021 budget to be spent on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. Of this amount, the council approved an initial of P450 million.

Local legislators said the city government can propose a supplemental budget in the event that there is still a need to vaccinate more.

Linsalata said profiling is also being conducted to determine the number of individuals qualified for the local government’s COVID-19 vaccine priority list.

“We are preparing the masterlist already. By the time the vaccines will come, we already know how many are qualified to get the shots,” she added.

Logistics, HR 

Earlier reports stated that national government officials are aiming to rollout vaccines from Pfizer’s BioNTech, one of Cebu City’s preferred COVID-vaccine brands, by February.

However, Loreche said they have yet to receive official communication, timeline, and guidelines from higher-ups on this development.

In the meantime, Loreche said DOH-7 is already in talks with institutions and establishments that have facilities capable of storing COVID-19 vaccines.

“What we need are ultra-low freezers that can generate temperatures of minus 70 (-70) degree Celsius. I cannot give the exact locations of these facilities as talks are still ongoing,” she noted.

The DOH-7 official also said they would have to train and retrain vaccinators, especially members of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs), for the inoculation.

Cebu City was also selected as part of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine program due to the existence of facilities capable of storing them.


RELATED STORY: Vaccine communication advice for PH

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TAGS: Cebu City, Cebu City Health Office, COVID-19, Covid-19 vaccine, Department of Health in Central Visayas, DOH-7

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