CEBU CITY – The National Task Force (NTF) against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) barnstormed Bohol on Friday to ramp up the inoculation of senior citizens in areas still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Odette.
Secretary Vivencio Dizon, the designated national testing czar, along with Bohol Governor Arthur Yap, engaged the local chief executives in a dialogue to elicit issues, concerns, and recommendations to bolster effort in vaccinating the elderly population.
In his speech, Dizon urged the mayors to craft initiatives to increase the total number of their senior citizens inoculated for protection against Covid-19.
“We’ll have a dialogue, especially with the mayors on how we can provide incentives for the seniors, let’s give them assistance to entice them to get vaccinated. Let’s give them some help so that instead of asking them to the vaccination sites, let’s be the one to visit them to their homes,” Dizon said.
Dizon assured the mayors in Bohol of help from the national government, through the NTF and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), in the province’s efforts to transition to Covid-19 Alert Level 1.
Dizon said President Rodrigo Duterte gave them the directive to visit provinces, cities, and municipalities that have a low vaccination rate among their elderly population.
Dr. Jonathan Neil Erasmo, Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas’ chief for local health division, cited the Bohol provincial government’s effort to ramp up the inoculation of their general population. The province has so far fully vaccinated 55 percent of its target population.
Erasmo cited one of the province’s “Bakuna: Sana All, Modaog pa ka sa Raffle” initiatives to increase coverage by giving out PHP2,000 to 1,000 vaccinated residents.
Apart from strong coordination between the DOH, the Provincial Health Office, and other health facilities, the provincial capitol has also authorized the release of budgetary and logistical support for vaccination activities.
Road to new normal
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said while Bohol is on the road toward the new normal, the observance of minimum health standards should still be given paramount consideration.
“These will form part of the new normal… We are entering into the new normal endemic regime,” he said, adding that getting all the doses of the vaccine, including a booster, is part of the new normal.
Yap, for his part, assured the Boholanos of programs to transition to Alert Level 1 and enable the local economy to fully recover.
“Right now, our development program is hinged and is totally dependent on how we can open up the soonest. (With) the tourism and services industry right now, (with) the P20 billion in revenue lost, it’s very difficult to talk about any development in the province, unless we open up,” Yap said.
The governor rallied the Boholanos to continue supporting the province’s vaccination efforts, saying that “this is the last mile to get us up.
“When we get ourselves up, then we can open up, the income will flow… We can survive. We will not able to survive and reopen unless we can have this vaccination rate up,” he added. (PNA)