July 18, 2024

The transition from pandemic to endemic takes great steps from leaders down to the grassroots, from institutions to individuals within the community and countrywide, Department of Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said. 
Duque, together with other officials, was in Baguio for the launching of the Bakuna sa Botika and drive-through vaccination at the Athletic Bowl, Burnham Park.
Duque expressed concern for health workers who have battled the Covid-19. The health care utilization rate of health facilities should not breach over 70 percent as medical health care workers would be overwhelmed, he said. 
During the Delta variant surge, cases escalated to severe and critical needing intubation and oxygen at hospital beds; while with the Omicron variant, there are more asymptomatic and mild cases, Duque said. The later cases may be treated at step-down facilities, with home care, or with telemedicine. The condition would free healthcare workers and health facilities from being overwhelmed. 
Senior citizens and those with comorbidities should be protected through stay-at-home measures, or home service/telemedicine for ill individuals. Duque, however, was exultant that senior citizens in the city are 97 percent vaccinated, while adults with comorbidities are 98 percent vaccinated and both groups have availed of booster shots. 
Duque noted Baguio as epicenter of education, commerce, and economy has offered vaccination to the La Trinidad -Itogon-Sablan-Tuba and Tublay (LISTT), Benguet residents, even to tourists and migrants. 
The Cordillera is also 80 percent vaccinated, second to the National Capital Region in vaccination drive, “a feat we are truly proud of, and would surely help us in beating Covid-19 in this part of the world,” Duque said.    
The very aggressive vaccination program of Baguio helped in achieving the vaccination of 54 million Filipinos mid-January; and the 70 million target at a later date, he added. 
A communication plan, however, needs to be implemented for individuals who choose vaccines, as this delays achieving the vaccination target. “Sabihan natin sila na lahat ng bakuna ay ligtas, de-kalidad, epektibo, at libre,” Duque said.  
He said everyone should also comply with the minimum public health standards, use of mask, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and proper ventilation in addition to being vaccinated. “We do not want to duplicate costly lessons from Western Europe where MPHS was neglected, with later spikes in deadly Covid-19 cases.”
Due to the unpredictability and notoriety in mutation of Covid-19 to variants, “We hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” the health secretary said. – Julie G. Fianza