Cagayan de Oro ramps up inoculations as it fails to stop virus spread

Cagayan de Oro moved to ramp up its vaccination rollout in the hope of helping the city achieve herd immunity as Northern Mindanao saw its highest single-day number of new COVID-19 cases despite varying degrees of quarantine measures regionwide.

As the region’s COVID-19 infections soared to 815 on Tuesday, August 10, from Sunday’s 672, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said the local government would accelerate the local vaccination program so the city could reach herd immunity before year-end.

“We are working hard to get our constituents and the business sector out of this economic squeeze and hardship,” Moreno said. “We need to accelerate our vaccination efforts while we suppress the transmission of the virus as fast as we can, and slacken the transmission through strict quarantine.”

Cagayan de Oro would be on its fifth week of strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) classification by August 21, with only about 70,000 residents fully vaccinated. As of Tuesday, about 250,000 residents have yet to receive their second jabs, according to Moreno.

Quarantine measures and efforts to quickly identify and isolate COVID-19 carriers and those they had been in contact with have done very little to keep the virus from spreading in Cagayan de Oro and elsewhere in Region 10. Officials have now pinned their hopes on the prospects of herd immunity by speeding up mass vaccination.

Moreno said city hall’s target is to inoculate 70% of Cagayan de Oro’s population in three months to address the problem of the runaway outbreak of COVID-19 infections.

He blamed the COVID-19 surges in the city and elsewhere in the region on the more transmissible variants of the virus.

“We are racing against time, given the Delta variant and, possibly, other emerging SARS-COV-2 variants.… The variants are out there. Mao na kana (That’s why),” he said during a COVID-19 situation briefing live-streamed by city hall.

City hall’s task would be a tall order as Moreno’s target means administering COVID-19 vaccines to 518,518 of Cagayan de Oro’s 740,740 residents in 100 days.

Moreno said, “We are planning vaccination rollouts one month at a time instead of three days as done previously when the vaccines came in trickles.”

In an August 6 letter to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Moreno said city hall’s accelerated vaccination rollout would require 240,000 doses a month to be administered at a rate of 8,000 jabs daily. Some 80 vaccination teams would be deployed throughout the city.

Moreno said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) helped city hall identify strategic sites, and vaccine and team requirements using an optimization software. He said the software would also enable public health frontline workers to quickly adjust and administer the jabs even during the rainy days when flooding risks are high.

City hall, he said, has secured a cold storage facility for the vaccines in Barangay Tablon.

“We request that vaccine dispatches to our city be sent with Cagayan de Oro City as the direct consignee…without prejudice to our submitting to the Department of Health Region X for monitoring and supervision purposes,” read part of Moreno’s letter to Galvez.

He said the setup would relieve the DOH regional office of Cagayan de Oro’s added pressure in allocating vaccines to various cities, provinces, and towns in Northern Mindanao.

“We aim to get out of the daily queue requesting COVID-19 vaccines from DOH-10 and implement an accelerated, effective, and efficient vaccination rollout as demanded by recent events,” he added.

Cagayan de Oro accounted for 31.28% of Northern Mindanao’s newly documented COVID-19 cases in a single day on Tuesday. With 255 cases that day, the city trailed next to neighboring Bukidnon province that saw cases rise to 327 from Sunday’s count of 218.

Misamis Oriental province’s number of COVID-19 cases remained at three digits, at 150, as of Tuesday, August 10. 

The island province of Camiguin saw a surge in cases at 50 from seven on Sunday, while Iligan City registered 21 new cases on Tuesday. Lanao del Norte province had the least, at two cases. – Rappler.com