The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Tuesday echoed the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for local government units to ensure that people are not exposed to health risks and other hazards on the day of their vaccination, amid torrential monsoon rains and flooding in several areas of the country in the past week.
In his State of the Nation Address, the President directed Monday the National Task Force against COVID-19 to ensure the protection of people who are availing of the vaccines.
Meanwhile, the latest batch of the government-procured Pfizer vaccines that arrived Monday evening will be sent to provinces now capable of handling jabs that require ultra-low temperature, Health Undersecretary Ma. Carolina Vidal-Taino said.
Some 375,570 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility arrived in the Philippines Monday evening, the second tranche of the 40 million Pfizer vaccine purchased by the government.
Also arriving just in time for the improving tourist arrivals in Boracay were an additional 10,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines for tourism frontliners, the Department of Tourism announced Monday.
Of the 10,000 doses, around 3,000 doses will be administered as second doses for the initial 3,000 tourism workers previously inoculated, while the remaining 7,000 doses are allocated for the first and second doses of another 3,500 tourism workers.
Out of the additional 3,500 tourism workers in Boracay who will get their full vaccination through the DOT’s initiative, around 2,230 workers are employed in accommodation establishments, 551 in restaurants, 397 in dive shops, spas, travel and tours, souvenir shops, jetty ports and other essential service providers.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday announced the arrest of four persons by the operatives of the NBI Special Action Unit in an entrapment operation in Pasay City for selling COVID-1 vaccination slots. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
NBI Officer-In-Charge Director Eric Distor identified the suspects as Peter Ong; Mary Rose Ong alias “Rose Bud,” Warlito Dabuet Mabanan a.k.a. “Ayeth,” and Ferdinand Balayot a.k.a. “Sec.” Rosebud Ong was previously a government witness, as she testified in the infamous Kuratong Baleleng rubout case in the mid-1990s against then-Philippine National Police chief and now Senator Panfilo Lacson.
In a directive to governors, mayors, and village chiefs, Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año said LGUs must see to it that vaccination sites, including their outside premises and queueing areas, are safe and convenient with little to no exposure to rain, flood, and other natural or man-made hazards.
"While we are ramping up efforts to vaccinate the majority of our populace, LGUs should take into consideration the safety and convenience of both the vaccination workforce and the vaccine recipients. Our LGUs must ensure that our vaccination sites are orderly and not flood-prone so that our fellowmen will not be exposed to other diseases," he said.
Ano also said LGUs should also ensure that facilities in vaccination sites are designed to give special accommodation to senior citizens, persons with comorbidities, and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
"Let's not make the situation hard for our fellowmen, especially senior citizens, persons with comorbidities and PWDs, who will get vaccinated. Let us make their vaccination as smooth and hassle-free aspossible," he said.
In the same directive, the DILG chief tasked LGUs to make their scheduling and appointment system more efficient with definite time slots in order to prevent long lines and unreasonable queueing, especially in the morning.
“Let us come up with an organized system for vaccination so that people will not go vaccination sites at the same time, thus ensuring observance of physical distancing. The safety of everyone should be top of mind as we carry out our vaccination efforts and especially during this rainy season. Let us prepare our constituents and make sure that know what to do in case sudden problems occur during vaccination activities," he said.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the DILG spokesperson, said that alternative COVID-19 vaccination sites are now being identified in coordination with Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
He said that 28 out of the 407 operational vaccination sites in NCRare affected by flooding.
“While we understand that we would like to vaccinate as many eligible individuals as possible, there is also the issue of overcrowding in vaccination centers so we already asked the LGUs to identify alternative vaccination sites,” he said.
Malaya said that the affected LGUs have already identified alternative vaccination sites where they will transfer their operations.
He also urged LGUs to ensure the integrity and security of COVID-19 vaccines at all times based on the recommended cold chain temperature requirements.
“Let us ensure that no vaccine will be wasted because every vaccine dose delivered is important in attaining population protection,” he said.
According to an advisory issued by the National Vaccination Operations Center headed by the Department of Health, LGUs should look for an alternative vaccination site and immediately transfer the vaccination operations to the said site as far as practicable if the vaccination sites and their immediate perimeter are flooded.
The advisory also said that if a transfer is not feasible, vaccination activities may be suspended and resumed once the weather situation permits and the flood has subsided.
It added that those who will be affected by the change in the schedule of vaccination or transfer of vaccination site should also be duly informed.