COVID-19

DOH: Most severe, critical COVID-19 cases in Ilocos Region are unvaccinated

John Michael Mugas
DOH: Most severe, critical COVID-19 cases in Ilocos Region are unvaccinated

VACCINATION. COVID-19 vaccination is conducted in Pangasinan on October 27, 2021.

Pangasinan provincial government website

Regional health officials say vaccine supply is no longer a problem

ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) in the Ilocos Region reported on Friday, May 13, that most individuals who suffered from severe and critical COVID-19 in the region during the first four months of 2022 were those who remained unvaccinated.

Of the reported 202 severe and critical COVID-19 hospital admissions from January to April, 158 patients or 78% were unvaccinated.

Because of this, regional health officials are urging the public to get COVID-19 booster shots and for those who remain unvaccinated to get jabbed against the virus.

They said vaccine supply is no longer a problem, but only 753,484 individuals have gotten their booster shots, or just 20% of the over 3.5 million individuals already fully vaccinated.

After the elections, the regional DOH is not dismissing the possibility that cases would rise.

“What we are trying to say is that COVID-19 is still here and the chance that the virus could spread also remains present,” Dr. Rheuel Bobis, regional COVID-19 focal person, said in Filipino during a television interview, adding that the public should still strictly follow minimum public health standards.

‘Possible surge response’

The DOH had asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to ensure that “existing precautionary measures” of local government units (LGUs) against the COVID-19 Omicron variant are strengthened.

“The COVID-19 Omicron variant of concern [and its] sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 cause concern as these variants showed lower virus neutralization and higher immune escape [among] unvaccinated individuals,” reads a DILG memo issued on Wednesday, May 11.

LGUs were directed to preposition systems, equipment, and personnel for “referral, emergency, and possible surge response.”

The DILG also urged LGUs to strengthen their surveillance activities and immediately report to the DOH any “rapid increase in cases of hospitalization in their areas.”

As of Thursday, May 12, there were 41 active COVID-19 cases in the Ilocos Region, with transmission still at a safe level, the DOH said. Since the pandemic began, there have been 117,845 confirmed cases in the region. – Rappler.com

John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based fellow and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.