GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Around 55,000 health workers in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) will be among the priorities for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) inoculation once the mass vaccination program starts in the coming months.
In a media forum here on Thursday, Dr. Edvir Jane Montañer, Department of Health (DOH)-Region 12 immunization manager, said the move is to ensure that local health systems will remain functional in the wake of the pandemic.
She cited the unhampered delivery of “essential and critical” health care services to residents in the region’s four provinces and four cities.
It will also provide confidence on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines among the people, especially those who still have misgivings on getting them, she said.
“The priority list covers all front-line public and private health workers,” Montañer said.
She said it includes medical and health professionals as well as those working in hospitals, clinics, health stations or centers, and other health-related facilities.
Aside from the health workers, also included in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination program this year are senior citizens, indigent residents, military and police personnel as well as those under their allied units, she said.
Montañer said the other remaining sectors will be covered in the second and third phases that will be implemented in the next two years or until 2023.
She said the identification of individuals who will be covered in the initial phase is ongoing in coordination with the local government units (LGU) in the region.
The official said this will be included in the micro-plans for vaccine mobilization that they required to LGUs from provincial to the barangay levels.
Local governments, through the rural health units, are required to identify early the possible vaccine hubs or storage facilities and the inoculation or vaccination sites, she said.
Based on the DOH’s national vaccination plan, Montañer said they are targeting to inoculate 60 to 70 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity against the disease.
“This means that for every 10 eligible individuals, six to seven of them should be given the vaccines to make the three to four others protected and stop the transmission of the virus in the community,” she said.
Montañer acknowledged that there hesitations and mistrust among the people regarding the vaccines since they are considered novel or new.
She reiterated that the agency has been doing its work to make sure that the vaccines that would be rolled out are safe and effective.
“Vaccines have saved many lives in the past, like what we had with polio, smallpox, and other illnesses, and we’re very hopeful that this will also be the case for Covid-19,” she added. (PNA)