CEBU CITY, Philippines – The city may hit its vaccination target by the year’s end due to the improved COVID-19 vaccination rate, Cebu City Health Department (CCHD) chief Dr Jeffrey Ibones said on Monday, December 6.
At least 660,000 residents have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Ibones told reporters on Monday.
This is 92% of its 719,000 eligible population or 69% of the city’s 945,000 total population.
This means the city only needs to vaccinate 59,000 more residents to hit the target.
“If we are able to vaccinate them, since they have already set their vaccination schedule, there’s a high possibility that we will attain herd immunity status,” Ibones said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Ibones added that the number of residents that the city targeted to vaccinate was fluid, saying, “Instead of 719,000 target residents, it has increased because we have added more people into the master list.”
This is an increase from the previous 645,000 target after more residents became eligible to receive the vaccine.
Mayor Mike Rama said he was proud of the progress of the city’s vaccination team.
“Earlier, I said, ‘I’m so proud of the group who composed the team for our vaccination drive.’ I haven’t seen them disheartened, instead, they’re passionate. In other words, I’m really happy and I really commend our convergence group for vaccination,” Rama said.
For several weeks, the city’s fully-vaccinated statistics had stagnated at around 45%. The number only began to increase when the city started bringing the vaccines to the barangays and the efforts from its national vaccination days.
In a bid to double down on the national government’s vaccination campaign, Rama recently ordered almost all non-essential establishments in the city to only serve fully vaccinated residents starting January 1, 2022.
Meanwhile, the city health chief said that the data on the 660,000 residents who have already received their first dose does not include pediatric recipients of the vaccine.
Ibones said individuals not returning for their second dose is the next challenge in reaching the city’s vaccination target.
“This is our problem from our constituents. They don’t appear at vaccination centers for their second dose. Although their percentage is low, it would be good if they do appear” Ibones said.
In a separate interview, Ibones told Rappler that there were at least two reasons why some residents were not able to appear at vaccination centers and receive their second dose.
“First, they became sick. Because we can’t avoid catching a common flu. Or that some of them went to their provinces and they weren’t able to get back in the city,” Ibones said.
Still, he urged residents to get their second dose in the coming weeks in order for the city to achieve its goals.
The city is scheduled to have its second round of “vaccination days” from December 15 to 17. – Rappler.com
Art Lubiano is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.