Metro Cebu ‘not remiss’ in vax rollout

·5 min read

DESPITE their inability to meet vaccination targets in recent months, local government units (LGUs) in Metro Cebu have not been remiss in their duty to have their constituents vaccinated against coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to an official involved in the vaccination efforts in Cebu.

“Yes, we do have areas that are identified as having missed their targets,” Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, spokesperson of the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC), told SunStar Cebu Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

But at the same time, she said: “Speaking for Metro Cebu, our local government units have been and continue to be actively involved in the vaccination efforts. Various strategies and plans have been implemented in order to improve their jab performance.”

The LGUs grouped by the VVOC under Metro Cebu are Cebu City, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City, Talisay City, Naga City, and the towns of Consolacion, Minglanilla and Cordova.

Loreche’s reaction was sought after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered on Wednesday the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to punish LGU chief executives who fail to use the Covid-19 vaccine doses provided to them in “the most expeditious manner.”

Missed targets

Since September, the VVOC has noted a slowdown in vaccination, first reporting that in the week of September 13 to 18, 2021, Metro Cebu had met only 18 percent of its 141,750 weekly target for first-dose vaccinations after only 25,891 people showed up for the jab.

The VVOC also reported that for the second dose vaccination, Metro Cebu had met only 85.6 percent of the 64,703 dose target for September 13 to 18 when only 55,413 jabs were administered.

Metro Cebu continues to have problems meeting its vaccination targets, Loreche said.

“The past weeks, we have seen a decline in hitting the target. But as of last week, in the weekly report, there was a slight improvement in the numbers for second doses. But for the first dose, it is still an uphill climb,” she said.

Asked whether it was fair for the DILG to punish LGU executives for their failure to use vaccine doses expeditiously, Loreche said: “It’s not about being fair or unfair in terms of sanctions by the DILG. Vaccine hesitancy can be multifactorial in nature, ranging from fear of side effects, misinformation, lack of trust in the efficacy and safety of the vaccines, brand preference. But there is the angle that leaders are seen as role models, influencers to their respective constituents and also as keepers of government resources.”

“More important is the sacred duty to ensure an end to this pandemic by achieving herd immunity, which can minimize preventable deaths as well as open fully the economy, thereby providing livelihoods,” she added.

‘Skewed and illogical’

Meanwhile, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the Department of Health (DOH) shouldn’t be “pigheaded” in its Covid-19 vaccination rollout.

In a press conference, Garcia criticized national government health officials for imposing a requirement on all LGUs to vaccinate at least 50 percent of their eligible population before they can start vaccinating individuals aged 12 to 17 years old, the next priority group for Covid-19 vaccination.

Garcia recalled a conversation she had with DOH 7 Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas concerning the need for LGUs in Cebu Province to ramp up their vaccination efforts.

Garcia said Bernadas told her they needed to ramp up their efforts as the region now had so much vaccine supplies which he feared might expire if more people refused to be vaccinated.

Garcia said she told Bernadas to start vaccinating individuals aged 12-17.

But the DOH 7 director refused as not all LGUs in Cebu had been able to comply with the national government’s requirement to vaccinate 50 percent of their eligible population, Garcia said.

Garcia considered the DOH national policy as “totally skewed and illogical.”

“Now that we have so much vaccines, we would rather that our vaccines get expired to punish a certain area which was not able to achieve 50 percent. Gusto lang gyud tag molatos, bahalag pwede rag dili (We just want to spank even if it can be avoided.) Those vaccines cost money, and you’d rather waste money because you want to impose a 50 percent rule on the adult population,” Garcia told reporters.

She urged national government officials to reconsider this requirement and start releasing their vaccine supplies to Cebu’s LGUs so that they can proceed with the vaccination of minors.

Pediatric vaccination

In Cebu City, the local government targets the vaccination of 500 minors as it officially launches the vaccination of those ages 12 to 17 on Monday, November 8, 2021.

Jeffrey Ibones, head of the Cebu City Health Department, said an initial 100 minors had been vaccinated against Covid-19 about a week ago.

Ibones said they will continue with the vaccination until all minors who have registered will have gotten their jabs.

Minors who have registered in the City’s Pabakunata.com may proceed to University of Cebu (UC) J. Alcantara, Southwestern University Phinma and Ayala Center Cebu on Monday accompanied by their parents or guardian.

The accompanying adult needs to present any documentary proof showing his/her relationship of the vaccine recipient, and identification cards.

A medical clearance is required for those with comorbidities.

Around 11,000 minors have registered for vaccination in Cebu City out of the 150,000 population eligible for pediatric vaccination. (CTL, JKV, PAC)

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