COVID-19 vaccines

Negros Occidental COVID-19 vaccination still lags even with new push

Marchel Espina
Negros Occidental COVID-19 vaccination still lags even with new push

VACCINE DRIVE. A Negros Occidental provincial health worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine, with the province acknowledging low number of takers in its June 2022 vaccination drive.

Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office

The struggle to increase COVID-19 vaccine coverage threatens Governor Eugenio Jose 'Bong' Lacson’s plan to seek a de-escalation of Negros Occidental's alert level status

BACOLOD, Philippines – The Negros Occidental provincial government’s effort to push its COVID-19 vaccination program continues to lag badly, with its latest simultaneous push last Thursday and Friday, June 2 and 3, only getting 17% and 15% of the daily targets, respectively.

Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz told reporters on Sunday, June 5, that the province only met 3,872 of the 23,305 target on Thursday and only 3,446 on Friday.

The figure was even lower for the 6,414 daily target for senior citizens, with only 218 or just 3% inoculated on Thursday and 141 or 2% on Friday.

The struggle to convince residents to get their COVID-19 shots could derail Governor Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson’s plan to seek a de-escalation of the alert level status of the province.

Lacson announced the move on May 29, shortly before the province launched its latest monthlong drive. The provincial health office and local government units (LGUs) scheduled the push every Thursday and Friday for the first three weeks and Monday and Tuesday for the final week.

The Department of Health’s Western Visayas office early in May tagged Negros Occidental as having the lowest vaccination rate in the region, with only 62.68% of its 1.825-million target population covered.

However, coverage rose to 76% of the target population by the end of May, according to provincial health officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang.

The target population represents 70% of the province’s 2.607-million total population.

Lacson has urged LGUs to ramp up their vaccination efforts, noting that low coverage would keep them on Alert Level 2, delaying the full reopening of their economies.

Only seven of the province’s 31 towns and cities are under Alert Level 1. The rest remain under Alert Level 2 despite infection rates still in single digits after the election season.

In neighboring Negros Oriental, health authorities also said they have redoubled their vaccination efforts in a bid to be downgraded to Alert Level 1.

Assistant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Liland Estacion on Monday, June 6, said the National Vaccination Operations Center increased the province’s coverage target from 990,637 to 1,148,424 individuals based on the 2020 Census of Population and Housing.

That move lowered the province’s accomplishment – which was below 70% of the original target population – to just 57.3%. –