June 17, 2024

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda has filed an ordinance strengthening the vaccination program in the city by mobilizing community volunteers.

These community volunteers who will be called bakuna champions, will be recruited from the barangays to serve as influencers by spreading pro-vaccine messages to alter the attitudes and perceptions of residents towards vaccines and vaccination 

Through the Bakuna Champions Ordinance, the city government will adopt a participatory approach aimed at ensuring the general health and well-being of the community.

The proposed measure focuses on mobilizing the community to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases, aligning with Article 2, Section 15 of the Constitution and Republic Act 10152, known as the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011.

Tabanda said vaccine hesitancy has been identified by the World Health Organization as a concern impacting immunization coverage in the Philippines and has various causes including the dengue vaccine scare that eroded public trust.

The proposed ordinance highlights social mobilization as a strategy to promote and sustain routine immunization programs. The “bakuna champions” initiative, composed of barangay-based volunteer health workers, aims to combat vaccine hesitancy and promote vaccine use through advocacy and influence.

To recognize the contributions of bakuna champions, the ordinance will allow the provision of monthly stipends, training, education, career development opportunities, free legal services, medical examinations, and eligibility as barangay health workers of these community volunteers.

Under the ordinance, the city’s Health Promotion Committee will oversee the bakuna champions program to ensure quality and effectiveness of social mobilization. The City Health Services Office will provide managerial oversight, while the Local Health Board will handle the registration of bakuna champions.

Previously, the city government had entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Health-Cordillera that ensures an allocated amount of P2.4 million from the 2023 General Appropriations Act. The fund is specifically earmarked for the PA 3 Bakuna Champions program under the 2023 Healthy Settings Program on Healthy Communities.

The funds will cover various expenses, such as printing materials related to the ordinance and promoting psychosocial and mental well-being, costs of meetings of the oversight committee, inspection and enforcement expenses including allowances, logistical support for bakuna champions, their benefits and incentives, and other necessary expenses associated with implementing the ordinance.

The DOH will provide the initial funding, and subsequent implementation of the program will depend on fund availability.

The proposed ordinance has been approved on first reading by the Baguio City Council and referred to the committee on health and sanitation, ecology, and environmental protection for review. – Angel Kate Figueroa and Jordan G. Habbiling