Visayas regions joined the national Bayanihan Bakunahan vax drive, providing hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine shots to residents of the Philippines’ central group of islands.
The Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD) bared adjusted targets on Monday, November 29, the first day of the blitz that extends until December 1.
DOH-WV CHD said it aimed to administer 791,034 jabs over three days, with daily targets of 263,678.
The new figures cover from Aklan (26,530), Antique (15,000), Capiz (44,525), Guimaras (9,566), Iloilo Province (90,000), Negros Occidental (50,000), Bacolod City (22,057), and Iloilo City (6,000).
The regional health office on November 22 announced a 2.2 million total target and a daily target of 426,259. Provinces like Negros Occidental and chartered cities like Bacolod immediately described the goal as too ambitious. Iloilo City was not included in the regional office’s November 22 statement.
Dr. Mary Jane Juanico, head of the DOH-WV CHD’s Data Management Team, said the targets were modified after the national government met with local chief executives on November 26.
Initial data for the region showed that as of 5 pm Monday, 112,941 COVID vaccines were administered in 515 vaccination sites. These included 103,265 first doses, 8,314 second doses, and 981 booster shots.
The Iloilo provincial government already kicked off the 3-day blitz with a program last November 26, also attended by DOH-WV CHD officials.
The province has 221 vaccination sites, with the provincial government providing its 42 municipalities and the City of Passi staff support by hiring nurses, doctors, nursing attendants, and encoders.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor also got his Sinovac booster shot at the West Visayas State University Cultural Center in Iloilo City, which has been used since vaccinations started.
Iloilo provincial health officer Dr. Socorro Quiñon said the province will open the program to minors aged 12 to 17 years old, including non-residents, on Tuesday, November 30.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas opened the drive with DOH-WV Director Adriano Suba-an and other regional and city officials at the SM City Iloilo.
The city government offered free bus rides plying major thoroughfares and stopping by district plazas in each of its 7 districts (City Proper, Arevalo, Jaro, La Paz, Lapuz, Mandurriao, and Molo) for the 3-day period.
In his nightly newscast, the mayor said the city’s vax drive was also open to non-residents as long as the city has supplies.
“As long as we have vaccines, it has to be open to everyone so we can give them protection. My hope is that everyone who can get a booster shot gets it, and minors between 12 to 17 should get vaccinated as well,” said the mayor.
Bacolod City opened 42 vaccination sites as part of the national blitz, including in large-scale sites and in smaller purok.
LOOK. Long, winding lines outside the vaccination hall at the SM Mall in Bacolod City. The city has opened 40 vaccination sites from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 as part of national vax blitz. (Photo by Ronnie Baldonado) @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/Je28nc5XT8— inday espina varona (@indayevarona) November 29, 2021
Bacolod residents flock to brgy centers, schools, gyms to avail of COVID-19 vaccines. Left, Brgy Pahanocoy. Right, the mayor speaks at the Bacolod City National High School. Two more vax centers just opened, bringing total sites to 42. (City PIO photos). @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/4NfpWepQ5Y— inday espina varona (@indayevarona) November 29, 2021
The city’s vax drive started with the Emergency Operations Center (EOC reporting only 2 new COVID-19 cases, with only a 1.03% positivity rate out of 195 tests on November 28.
Long, winding lines were seen in the city’s three malls, while residents packed gyms and barangay centers.
Bacolod EOC chief Em Ang reported a total of 29,047 residents got vaccinated as of 5 p.m., including 18,881 adults’ first and second doses, 5,809 pediatric doses, and 4,357 booster shots.
Metro Cebu’s daily targets for the 3-day blitz include 32,308 for Cebu City, 9,746 for Lapu-Lapu City, 7,504 for Mandaue City, 5,174 for Naga City, 4,539 for Talisay City, 6,180 for Consolacion, 5,321 for Minglanilla, 4,368 for Consolacion, and 7,338 for Liloan.
As of 3:30 pm, Cebu City had administered 9,527 total jabs, Lapu-Lapu City had 7,303, Mandaue City had 322, Consolacion had 2,780, Cordova had 1,588, Liloan had 1,698, Talisay City had 900, Minglanilla had 3,066, and Naga City had 631.
Mandaue City opened all of its vaccination sites for the event.
Mass-based sites include the Mandaue Sports Complex, the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue campus, JCenter Mall, Pacific Mall, and Park Mall.
Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama thanked the Duterte administration, saying that he looked forward to vaccinating 100% of the population.
“In fact, we have gone past 76% on individuals vaccinated compared to our target to achieve herd immunity. We look forward to hitting the 100% mark towards the end of this year, especially with these National Vaccination Days, with great thanks to the Duterte Administration,” Rama said.
Rama also announced that all business establishments in Cebu City will be allowed to welcome only COVID-19 vaccinated individuals starting on Wednesday, December 1.
“Again, by Wednesday, Dec. 1, if possible, we open every establishment, as long as everyone has been vaccinated. All places of business and areas where people may go may already fully open, but only to people who have already been vaccinated,” Rama said, in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Visayas Vaccination Operations Center spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said that the kick-off was very good, but also cited some challenges, including internet connectivity, overcrowding, vaccine brand preference, and ventilation to further prevent adverse events.
“We are very proud of our LGUs and the Sugbuanons for rising to the call of getting vaccinated,” Loreche said in a message to the media.
In Eastern Visayas, DOH-EVCHD Director Dr. Exuperia Sabalberino in a presser on November 29 said they opened 297 vaccination sites across the region, with a daily target of 263,271 individuals.
During the DOH-EVCHD’s opening program, Sabalberino admitted getting all unvaccinated persons over the next three days is a tough challenge but said it could be done with help from other government agencies.
“The challenge is for us to capture all the unvaccinated individuals in the region within three days. Nagtutulungan ang lahat ng government agencies. We can beat COVID-19 together. Kaya natin ito despite the challenges in Region 8 (All government agencies are helping each other out. We can beat COVID-19),” she said.
DILG Region 8 Arnaldo Escober reminded residents that vaccination was “the best weapon” against COVID-19.
Residents in Tacloban City were seen lining up for COVID-19 jabs at the Tacloban City Convention Center. Dubbed as a “mega vaccination center,” the center can accommodate at least 5,000 individuals daily.
—with reports from Art Lubiano, Brynch Bonachita, Inday Espina-Varona, Lance Lim, and Ryan Macasero.—Rappler.com
Joseph B.A. Marzan is a Visayas-based journalist from Iloilo City and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.