April 2, 2023

The Department of Health-Cordillera is reiterating its call for those who have yet to receive their primary series of anti-Covid-19 vaccines to be vaccinated and for those who have completed the series, to get their booster shots.

Experts from the DOH said the protection from the primary series vaccines is no longer enough and booster shots will help signal immune systems to fight off the infection.

At the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center alone, Dr. Thea Pamela Cajulao, infectious diseases specialist, said the hospital recorded an 89.4 percent increase in admissions in July.

From nine cases in June, Covid-19 cases jumped to 85 in July. Of the 85, three are asymptomatic, 33 have mild symptoms, 20 with moderate symptoms, 21 are severe, and eight are critical.

Cajulao said majority of those admitted in the hospital have completed the primary series of their vaccines but have not received booster shots.

Seven deaths were recorded in July, where six are from Baguio City. Among the deaths, two were unvaccinated, four received primary series, and one received the primary series plus one booster.

The Cordillera Regional Epidemiological and Surveillance Unit also reported 128 cases have been recorded on Aug. 1, the highest since February.

Nurse Karen Lonogan of the RESU said at the start of the year, the average number of cases was 30 daily.

Positivity rate is also high at 22.42 percent, which is above the benchmark set by the World Health Organization which is five percent.

Positivity rate refers to the number of all tests conducted for Covid-19 that show positive results.

Lonogan said although health care utilization rate in the region remains low, health experts remain on the lookout because of the presence of variants that are said to be resistant of vaccines.

In the latest genome sequencing in the Cordillera, Omicron is the dominant variant with 698 followed by the Delta variant with 586, Alpha – 307, and Beta – 91.

“Binabantayan ‘yung mga na-infect ng Omicron variant dahil sila ‘yung most likely na magkaroon ng reinfection,” Lonogan said.

Last Aug. 2, the DOH recorded two cases of the BA 2.75 or Centaurus – a subvariant of the Omicron – which is said to be more transmissible and resistant to vaccines.

Health and infectious diseases experts reiterated that the best way to prevent infection is to follow minimum public health standards and to get vaccinated.

DOH Medical Officer III Camille Justine Malinit said vaccination is a tried and tested way of preventing the spread of diseases.

Under the current administration, the agency is ramping up its campaign for the public to get their booster shots.

The DOH, along with local government units, has recalibrated the campaign by bringing the vaccines at areas where people usually converge such as parks, schools, markets, malls, and transportation terminals.

“We continue to campaign for the public to avail of the free, tried and tested vaccines because Covid and its variants are still here, along with its catastrophic effects. The primary series is no longer enough,” Malinit said.

Through the DOH’s Pinas Lakas booster campaign, the target is to vaccinate 50 percent of those who already got the primary series of their vaccine.

The DOH is also targeting that by Oct. 8 or when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reaches 100 days in office, 90 percent based on the 2022 population of senior citizens would have been vaccinated of the primary series and 50 percent, boosted.

Booster shots are now available for all groups including those without comorbidities. – Rimaliza A. Opiña