KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato – During its first quarter meeting on February 24, 2021 conducted via videoconference, the Regional Social Development Committee (RSDC) XII listened to the briefing of DOH XII on its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, including an assessment of the readiness of local government units to undertake the series of activities.

COVID-19 pandemic affected the general population over the past year and disrupted the economy as the country was declared under a State of National Health Emergency. For its part, the LGUs acted to contain the spread of the virus and lessen its adverse impact on the people through different levels of community quarantines. At present, the government is trying to open up economic activities, and the people are getting used to the new normal, yet the fear and uncertainty remain. 

Dr. Edvir Jane Montaňer, Medical Officer IV of the Department of Health XII presented a report on the COVID-19 immunization campaign and related activities for the SOCCSKSARGEN Region.  She mentioned that the determination of recipients for Region XII followed the same guiding principles adopted by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) Values Framework for the Allocation and Prioritization of COVID-19 Vaccination.

The COVID 19 vaccination aims to bring about a direct reduction of mortality and morbidity and maintenance of most critical essential services.  Also, other goals include substantial control of transmission, minimize disruption of socioeconomic and security functions, as well as resumption to near normal.

In consideration of COVID-19 vaccination goals, the priority eligible Group A shall consist of the following (1) frontline health workers, (2) indigent senior citizens, (3) remaining senior citizens, (4) remaining indigent population, and (5) uniformed personnel.

The priority eligible Group B: (1) teachers and social workers, (2) other government workers and other essential workers outside health, education, social welfare sector i.e. agriculture, food industry, transportation, tourism), (3) socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk outside senior citizens and indigenous peoples, (4) Overseas Filipino Workers, and (5) other remaining workforce.  Finally, the eligible group C are the remaining populace including newborns.

On adverse events following immunization (AEFI), a health screening questionnaire shall consider these four (4) major points subject to identified indicators:  Do Not Vaccinate, Deferral, Needs Clearance, and Special Precaution.  All symptoms on AEFI, whether minor or serious, should be reported to the nearest facility for appropriate action.

As to the COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap, immunization will span for a period of three (3) years starting in 2021.  Vaccination shall be administered in two doses by the vaccination team which shall be conducted at designated fixed posts.

In terms of readiness, LGUs were trained and oriented on the COVID-19 immunization campaign with 100 percent accomplishment. The training was conducted face-to-face and through online platforms. There were also line agencies oriented on the COVID-19 immunization.

Activities relative to planning/coordination/financing; service delivery; vaccines/cold chain/ logistics; safety surveillance/response; and, demand generation/social mobilization/ communication had already started. 

On the question of whether private businesses can purchase the vaccine, Dr. Montaňer said that, per DOH guidelines, only the LGUs are allowed to access/procure the vaccine.    

In the message of Dr. Montaňer, she called on the support and cooperation of the entire population for the success of the COVID-19 vaccination as the SOCCSKSARGEN Region continues to adopt to the new normal and the resumption of economic activities. (Evie Arabis Cabulanan, NEDA XII-DRD)