Gov’t to boost vaccination before start of local campaign

MANILA – The national government is eyeing to further ramp up the Covid-19 vaccination program in all local government units (LGUs) before the campaign period for local elections starts on March 25.

At the Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday, National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) and Health Undersecretary Myna Cabotaje said the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) has already sought the help of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Health (DOH) for the extension of disbursement of funds to be able to continue the vaccination program in their localities.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10747 prohibits public fund spending from March to May 2022.

“Nag-request nga si (Quirino) Governor Dax Cua ng ULAP na kung puwedeng tulungan ng DOH at DILG ng pag-exempt ng (Governor Dax Cua of ULAP requested if the DOH and DILG can help them in the exemption from) Comelec ban for disbursement of funds for use of vaccination,” Cabotaje said.

Cua is the president of ULAP which is the umbrella organization of all leagues of LGUs and locally elected government officials,

Cabotaje added the government is already laying down alternative strategies to further expand the vaccination program amid the national and local polls.

“Importante bago mag-campaign period ma-ramp up pa natin, mas mapataas pa natin yung mga bakunahan (It is important that we can ramp up and extend our vaccination program before the local campaign period starts), and after that, if the attention is already divided, let us tap our other partners like the private sector, civil society organizations, and even the other government agencies to help in the vaccination,” she said.

The national government is set to roll out the fourth “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” from March 10 to 12, to scale up the administration of booster shots.

Cabotaje said the government will further capacitate those LGUs that have yet to reach 70 percent of their target population for the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

It also pushes to the provision of full protection against Covid-19 to at least 80 percent of senior citizens and those with comorbidities while pushing everybody to embrace the “new normal”.

She said another round of massive vaccination days will be more granular and contextualized.

“In terms of the second booster, there is a recommendation [to] give a second booster pero pinag-aaralan pa – wala pang polisiya (but it is still being studied, no policy yet),” Cabotaje noted.

“In the next few days – DOH and the experts will come up with the final recommendation,” she added.