By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go reminded the public to get vaccinated and boosted once eligible, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to fast track the vaccine rollout especially outside the National Capital Region.
In his Talk to the People address on January 10, the President said there is no excuse for qualified Filipinos to be unvaccinated when there are plenty of vaccination sites and more than 213 million COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered nationwide since February of last year.
“Hinihikayat ko po ang lahat na magpabakuna lalo na’t bukas na ang programa sa general population. Pwede na rin magpabooster ang mga qualified. Nasa datos naman na kung sino ang positibo at grabe ‘yung sintomas ay kadalasan sila ‘yung mga hindi pa bakunado,” Go pointed out.
“Kaya ipakita natin ang malasakit sa ating mga frontliners at magpa-schedule na tayo sa pinakamalapit nating vaccination site. Huwag kayong matakot sa bakuna dahil ito ang tanging solusyon para unti-unti na tayong makabalik sa ating normal na pamumuhay,” he appealed.
The government aims to vaccinate 77 million Filipinos and complete the 12 to 17 age group before the end of the first quarter of 2022. It also targets to fully vaccinate 90 million Filipinos and finish the booster shots of 72.16 million individuals by the second and third quarter, respectively.
To do so, the government hopes to inoculate three million senior citizens and all remaining unvaccinated adults, the 25 million eligible for boosters, and minors. The Emergency Use Authorization of different vaccine brands will also be expanded to include other minors.
In the meantime, new vaccinators will be hired to ensure the deployment of sufficient doses nationwide. Local government units are also encouraged to collaborate with the private sector to increase public demand for both primary and booster shots.
“Importante na bakunado kayo para maiwasan niyo ang mga severe na sintomas ng sakit kung ma-infect man kayo. Kaya ‘wag kayo matakot sa bakuna. Matakot kayo sa COVID-19 dahil ito ang nakakamatay. Gaya ng sabi ng mga eksperto, if you’re not protected against COVID-19, the virus will itself find you and infect you,” cautioned the senator.
The government has administered 114.2 million COVID-19 doses as of January 10. A total of 57.8 million individuals have received their first dose while 52.8 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated. Another 3.6 million have obtained their booster shots.
The need for increased vaccination coverage became even more apparent following the surge in COVID-19 infections during the holiday season and the entry of the Omicron variant in the country. The Department of Health logged 33,169 new cases on January 10, its highest single day tally since the pandemic started. New cases of COVID-19 slightly decreased on January 11 to 28,007.
To counter this, NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and other areas were placed under Alert Level 3. LGUs are also implementing granular lockdowns.
The President further ordered the DOH and National Task Force for COVID-19 to continue working with public and private hospitals in NCR Plus areas to increase their bed capacities. They are supported by the One Hospital Command Center which maintains a real-time record of available hospital beds and health workers.
The Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing capacity of NCR Plus areas will likewise be expanded to handle the influx of tests and ensure that laboratories are operational seven days a week. There are currently 310 RT-PCR laboratories nationwide.
In addition, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and Department of Interior and Local Government were instructed to ensure that emergency operation centers are available in every LGU to meet the country’s response objectives.
“Lagi natin alalahanin na hindi kaya ng gobyernong mag-isa ang laban kontra pandemya. Hindi rin kakayanin ng mga frontliners kung patuloy na dadami ang kailangang dalhin sa mga ospital. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 starts with us by being responsible citizens and following health and safety protocols,” said Go.
“Kaya let us remain vigilant at sumunod sa mga patakaran. Ugaliing magsuot ng mask, mag-social distancing, maghugas ng kamay at kung hindi kailangang lumabas ay manatili nalang sa bahay upang maiwasan ang hawaan ng sakit. Magtulungan tayo para hindi bumagsak ang ating healthcare system habang binabalanse natin na pasiglahin muli ang ating ekonomiya,” he added. (ai/mtvn)
Sen. Bong Go and President Duterte