December 8, 2022

The Cordillera is just a few points shy of reaching community protection or herd immunity against the Covid-19, according to the Department of Health regional office.

DOH-CAR Assistant Director Amelita Pangilinan reported the region has received close to two million doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines since the Resbakuna Drive or the nationwide vaccination rollout started in March as of Dec. 21.

She said the region received a total of 1,985,509 doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines, and 938,955 of which were administered for first dose; 892,751 for second dose; and 33,138 doses as booster shots in 311 vaccination sites in the region.

This translates to 69.97 percent of the total eligible population who have completed two doses of the vaccine and 83.53 who received first dose. 

Based on the data from the Regional Vaccination Operations Center, those that have reached 70 percent community protection are Baguio City, with 119.56 percent partially vaccinated and 104.57 percent fully vaccinated (262,185 vaccinees); Abra, 100.92 percent and 91.06 percent respectively (173,928 vaccinees); Apayao, 89.94 percent, 73.19 percent (87,310 vaccinees); (partial) Kalinga, 75.53 percent and 62.33 percent (155,094 vaccinees); and (partial) Mountain Province, 75.14 percent and 61.3 percent (110,189 vaccinees).

On the other hand, Pangilinan said the department is still pushing Benguet and Ifugao to increase its respective vaccination efforts.

Benguet has partially vaccinated 60.5 percent of its target population and 47.96 percent fully vaccinated, totaling 338,754 individuals, while Ifugao currently has 148,444 total number of vaccinees, 56.15 percent are partially vaccinated and only 46.19 percent fully vaccinated.

In the case of Benguet, Pangilinan said one reason for the low vaccination turnout is that many are still “die-hard” or “hardcore” against vaccination, particularly among health workers themselves and senior citizens.

“We are doing all we can in explaining to them the need to vaccinate, citing to them scientific bases and guidelines, but to no avail. We just pray hindi sila makakapitan ng severe and deadly Covid-19,” Pangilinan said.

Another reason is many Benguet constituents, especially from the LISTT areas, got their vaccine shots in Baguio, particularly those who are working in the city and those who have relatives from the city who also went to get jabbed in Baguio.

Pangilinan said a research or survey of Benguet residents who get vaccinated in Baguio should show many are already inoculated but are not counted in its accomplishment, but based on their knowledge, no such study has been done yet.

She said the region has sufficient vaccine supply, has at least six brands to choose from, and an ample number of vaccinators.

The DOH, she said, continues its efforts to convince people to get vaccinated. Vaccinators now not only focus on capital towns or poblacions, but also form teams that go to far areas and do vaccination house to house.

Pangilinan said based on their study, 85 percent of admitted patients due to the Covid-19 in the regions are not vaccinated.

She added an analysis of hospital data from March 1 to Nov. 14 reveals severe and critical cases were 1.75 times more likely to occur among unvaccinated people and death was 2.6 times more likely to occur among unvaccinated compared to those have been vaccinated. “Vaccination is the key to continue reducing more severe and deadly Covid cases,” she said.

Further, the DOH recommends for local government units to strengthen testing and contract tracing, especially for travelers from countries where there is Omicron variant.

Pangilinan also advised heightening of restrictions, particularly during the holiday season by observing distancing when having Christmas parties and limiting it among families if possible.

DOH also advises increasing monitoring and protocols to lessen local transmission, for those not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated, for those partially vaccinated to complete their doses, and for those fully vaccinated to get their booster shot.

“We hope everybody will get their booster shots for us to be protected from infection due to the Omicron,” Pangilinan said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana