Gov’t to alter strategies to boost vaccine distribution

By Isabella T. Magno

The government will make changes to the country’s current vaccination strategies to increase the distribution of booster doses and immunizations among the senior citizens, according to a Department of Health (DOH) official, Monday, February 21.

“We will change strategies. We will improve some of our advocacies because some people are difficult to convince to get vaccinated even if there’s a decline in vaccine hesitancy,” DOH Undersecretary and National Vaccination Operations Center Head Myrna Cabotaje said at the Laging Handa Public Briefing.

She added that the department came up with this decision after failing to reach the five million people target during the third round of the national vaccination campaign, which ran from February 10 to 18.

Only 3.44 million people, or around 68.94 percent of the target population, were vaccinated during this period. 

According to Cabotaje, the slow-paced vaccination rate is due to people’s unawareness about the urgency of getting vaccinated and their reluctance to take a day off work.

However, many Filipinos cannot afford to take a leave and have their monthly pay reduced, especially when they earn the minimum wage. 

To address this, Cabotaje informed the press that the government was considering organizing vaccination efforts by area and by sector, in which house-to-house vaccinations may be done to especially cater to workers.

In addition, the government might take the following steps: (1) promote the benefits of booster shots; (2) address issues about brand preference; and (3) extend immunization to weekends to allow workers to take a rest.

Meanwhile, when the DOH Undersecretary was asked about the “vaccine hesitancy” among the senior citizens, she answered, “It’s not vaccine hesitancy. Many just do not want [to get jabbed], they’re saying that they’ll be dying soon anyway. They do not understand that if they get sick, their family members will also be affected.” 

At the end of the public briefing, Cabotaje highlighted that a simpler and more convenient vaccination process may “effectively” encourage people to get their jabs right away. 

As of writing, over 62 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated since March 21, while 9.6 million people already had their booster doses.

Resources:

Aning, J., & Santos, T. (2022, February 22). Gov’t needs new tack to get seniors vaccinated vs COVID-19. Inquirer. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1557873/govt-needs-new-tack-in-vaxxing-seniors

Barona, F. J. (2022, February 22). Govt changes jab strategy. The Manila Times. https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/02/22/news/national/govt-changes-jab-strategy/1833823 

Cabico, G. (2022, February 21). Gov’t to change strategies to ramp up COVID-19 booster administration, elderly vaccination. Philstar. https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2022/02/21/2162367/govt-change-strategies-ramp-covid-19-booster-administration-elderly-vaccination