Davao City

Rising deaths of unvaccinated people alarm Davao COVID-19 task force

Grace Cantal-Albasin

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Rising deaths of unvaccinated people alarm Davao COVID-19 task force
'If only these individuals chose vaccination, perhaps, they would have been able to fight the disease,' says Dr. Michelle Schlosser of Davao's COVID-19 Task Force

BUKIDNON, Philippines – Davao health officials expressed alarm over the rising cases of COVID-19 deaths among the unvaccinated in the city.

Davao’s COVID-19 Task Force logged 66 deaths in four weeks, from August 21 to September 17.

Records showed most of those who died were 50 years and older, and mostly unvaccinated senior citizens, although Davao City saw a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections in the last two weeks.

The city recorded 19 deaths in a week, from September 4 to September 10, the highest so far in the task force’s four-week monitoring. 

From September 11 to 17 alone, officials said, the number of COVID-19 deaths registered at 16.

Of the 16 people who died during the period, nine never got jabbed and the rest only received one or two vaccine shots.

The task force also noted that four of those who died were unvaccinated children not older than 12.

Dr. Michelle Schlosser, the focal person of the task force, said on Wednesday, September 21, that one of the children who died – a five-year-old – was believed to have been infected by adult family members who caught the virus.

Schlosser said the number of active cases in the city was already insignificant, but “what worries us now is the rising number of COVID-19 deaths.”

“By this time, COVID-19 deaths are preventable because vaccines are readily available. If only these individuals chose vaccination, perhaps, they would have been able to fight the disease,” Schlosser told the city government-run Davao City Disaster Radio.

She said the COVID-19 vaccination campaign has continued in the city, and health workers were bringing the vaccines to the villages, including remote areas, but vaccine hesitancy has remained a challenge.

She said the Philippine Red Cross has also been helping city hall with its weekend vaccinations at Davao’s People’s Park since September 17.

“It’s just so sad to see people die of COVID when the vaccines are available. We have it,” Schlosser said. 

As of September 16, records showed that city hall has already administered the first vaccine dose to more than 1.361 million residents, surpassing the target of 1.327 million. A total of 1,339,776 others also got their second dose.

“We are seeing a downtrend here as the positivity rate is now at 10 to 11% as compared to the past weeks which reached 15 to 18%,” she said. 

But just like in other cities in the country, the number of people seeking booster shots in Davao remained relatively low.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte on Wednesday issued Executive Order No. 43-2022, which adopted President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s directive that made face mask use optional in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.

But Duterte stated that face masks must be worn in private or public indoor spaces, including public transportation and in “outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained,” in line with a city ordinance.

Duterte also called on the unvaccinated, especially the elderly and the immunocompromised, to wear face masks and observe the physical distancing rule when in public spaces at all times. 

Before Marcos’ executive order, Davao City was strict regarding the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places and slapped violators with a fine of P1,500 each.

In May alone, the Davao City Police Office recorded over 10,000 persons fined for not wearing face masks outdoors. – Rappler.com

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