The Bangsamoro regional government is planning to hold special COVID-19 vaccination days next month in a bid to raise inoculation coverage, a local health official said Sunday.
Dr. Amirel Usman, director general of the Bangsamoro Ministry of Health, said local officials were eyeing to give the jab to 215,776 people during the special vaccination days, which will be held on the following dates: Basilan (May 11-13, May 16-18); Lanao del Sur (May 16-20); Maguindanao (May 17-19); Sulu (May 11-13); Tawi-Tawi (May 18-20); Marawi City (May 5-7); and Lamitan City (May 11-13).
So far, there are 959,694 fully vaccinated individuals in the Bangsamoro region, representing 28 percent of the target population, Usman said.
He said there was a sufficient supply of vaccines in the region and hesitancy among the residents is the main reason for the low coverage.
“Our problem is really hesitancy… especially among those living in remote areas and so-called geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas,” he said.
But Usman said the government had intensified its information drive to combat vaccine disinformation.
“We just need to show them the importance of vaccines. Once they’re aware of that, it’s easier for us to have them inoculated,” he added.
Usman said religious leaders had declared that COVID-19 vaccination does not disrupt fasting as the Muslim majority in the region continue to observe Ramadan.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez earlier said he was warned by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization that Bangsamoro may experience a “mini” COVID-19 surge due to its low vaccination coverage.
As of April 7, some 66.5 million individuals in the Philippines are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, of whom 12.3 million have received booster shots.