General Santos City

General Santos eyes herd immunity, steps up vaccination drive

Rommel Rebollido

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General Santos eyes herd immunity, steps up vaccination drive

PATROL. A component of Task Force Dalampasigan in General Santos City.

Photo from General Santos City LGU

Local officials say they aim to inoculate at least 5,000 people daily, or at least 30,000 a week

Efforts to bring General Santos City to herd immunity status before year’s end shifted to high gear.

Local officials said they aim to inoculate at least 5,000 people daily, or at least 30,000 a week. If they succeed, they said they would be able to vaccinate 70% of General Santos’ 800,000 population by November.

This city has been tagged by the Department of Health (DOH) as a high-risk area as it topped all other localities in the Soccsksargen region as having the most COVID-19 infections. 

Mayor Ronnel Rivera said on Wednesday, August 18, that the city’s vaccination rollout would be “on track to achieve our targets and hopefully, we can sustain this.” He said the city government has increased its weekly vaccination targets to 30,000 with the goal of achieving population protection before 2022.

Rivera said they decided to ramp up the vaccination rollout so that the city could avoid stricter restrictions in movement of goods and people to allow the local economy to normalize. 

“We can do this if 70% of the population has been vaccinated by October or November,” Rivera said.

The City Health Office said a total of 105,759 vaccine doses were already administered as of August 13. For the 105,759 available doses, about 40,691 people were listed as fully vaccinated while 65,068 were waiting for their second jabs.

While local authorities have tapped malls in the city as venues for mass vaccinations, some doubt that the vaccine supplies from the DOH would be sufficient.

General Santos eyes herd immunity, steps up vaccination drive

James Lim, 59, a resident of Labangal in this city, said he has long been waiting to be called for his inoculation.

Wala pa man hangtud karon. Wala pa man kunoy bakuna,” he said. (I have not been scheduled yet. The required vaccine doses are not there.)

Like Lim, many others have the same frustration.

Currently, General Santos is under Alert Level 4 due to the continuing increase of infections and the threats posed by the new variants, especially the dreaded Delta variant that has been overwhelming neighboring Indonesia.

Officials said Alert Level 4 means that the healthcare utilization rate is higher than 70% and classified as moderate to critical risk.

As of Wednesday, August 18, this city registered the most number of new COVID-19 cases in Soccsksargen in the last two weeks with 815, followed by South Cotabato with 625; Cotabato, 467; Sultan Kudarat, 406; and Sarangani, 216.

Rivera said local virus transmissions remained a big problem even as he gave assurances that city hall and the DOH were exerting all efforts to prevent it from further spreading in the city’s 26 barangays.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier told local officials to step up their vaccination efforts and inoculate all frontline health workers in the city by the end of August. Galvez told them to maximize their vaccination efforts, reminding them of the need to be vaccinated already.

Galvez said that before August ends, he hopes “bakunado na kayo, iyong lahat ng government workers – kahit first dose lang (you are vaccinated, all government workers – even if only the first dose).” –

Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.

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