COVID-19 vaccines

Misamis Oriental governor wants COVID-19 booster shots for anyone eligible

Herbie Gomez
Misamis Oriental governor wants COVID-19 booster shots for anyone eligible

BOOSTER. A COVID-19 booster shot is administered in General Trias City, Cavite, January 4, 2022.

Dennis Abrina/Rappler

Rather than watch the vaccine booster doses expire, 'inoculate every Juan who is willing to get boosted,' says Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano on Thursday, June 16, called on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to fine-tune the COVID-19 vaccination campaign to significantly increase the number of people receiving booster shots.

Despite calls for the fully vaccinated to get boosted, local officials said those who have gotten booster shots are still a far cry from the number of people who received the first two jabs.

Emano said only 59,000 of the more than half a million people who received their first two vaccine doses in the province have so far been administered with the initial booster shots.

Data showed that the capitol has so far administered the first two COVID-19 vaccine shots to 585,551 people.

He said only less than 100 people in Misamis Oriental have been given their second booster shots as of this posting.

Emano said the IATF and the Department of Health (DOH) may want to review the policy to prioritize certain sectors in the booster shot campaign because it has slowed down the work of local governments.

“The priority groups were given the opportunity already,” said Emano.

Rather than watch the vaccine booster doses expire, “inoculate every Juan who is willing to get boosted” and the IATF and DOH should “re-strategize,” he said.

Cagayan de Oro City Councilor Maria Lourdes Gaane, a physician by profession, said local officials already brought the concern to the attention of the DOH.

“DOH said that we have to abide by the national policy,” Gaane said.

Cagayan de Oro also registered a relatively low turnout of booster shot seekers vis-à-vis the number of people who got the first two jabs from the local government.

Dr. Teodoro Yu Jr., Cagayan de Oro City medical officer, said 142,685 have so far been given the first booster in the city since 2021.

That accounts for about 25% of Cagayan de Oro residents who received the first two vaccine shots since city hall rolled out the COVID-19 vaccination program last year.

City hall data showed 574,334 residents received the first two vaccine jabs as of Tuesday, June 14.

So far, only 3,861 people – public health front-line workers and senior citizens – have been given second booster shots in Cagayan de Oro since late April, according to Yu.

He said city hall has already opened its vaccination centers for residents who are eligible for the first booster doses regardless of category as long as they are 18 years or older.

Yu said local governments were merely following directives from the IATF and the DOH, and cannot administer booster shots to just about anyone without their green light.

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said the city was not far behind Metro Manila’s levels in terms of administering booster shots.

“Our first and second doses – 95+% and 92+%, respectively – are at par with Metro Manila, while our first booster is at 27+%, within reach of Metro Manila’s 30+%,” Moreno told Rappler.

He said there were factors the IATF and the DOH considered that led to the policy on prioritization, and that included the need to avoid overspending, and the availability of vaccines.

Moreno said public health front-line workers had to remain on top of the priority list because of their exposure to people.

He said senior citizens were also the most vulnerable to COVID-19 infections, hence the need to keep them on the priority list. –