LGU vaccine tactics working, but local execs can do more

IT is nice to see local government units competing against each other in the vaccination drive with positive results. Close to 9 million Filipinos so far have received at least one vaccine dose as of last week. But LGUs can do more and should sustain their aggressiveness to bring the Philippines nearer to its herd immunity objective.

A more extensive vaccine coverage is the key to the full reopening of the Philippine economy. Many advanced nations are doing that now—reopening several sectors of their economy and allowing more people to participate in the recovery process after inoculating a substantial percentage of their population.

The Philippines, per the World Health Organization data as of June 25, 2021, ranked 29th so far among the countries in terms of total doses (first and second jabs) given to the population with nearly 9 million. It is ahead of Thailand with 8.5 million and Malaysia with 6.3 million. It lags behind Bangladesh, 10.1 million; South Korea, 18.4 million; Japan, 35.8 million; and Indonesia, 37 million. China topped the list with 1.1 billion doses and the United States ranked second with 320 million jabs.

The rate of full inoculation (two jabs) compared with the total population of one nation, however, is entirely a different picture. France, for example, administered 49 million jabs, with full vaccination at 17.2 million against a total population of 65.4 million, or 25.7 percent. Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries in the early stage of the pandemic, inoculated 47.7 million and gave full vaccination to 16.6 million, or 27.6 percent of its 60.4 million population.

Brazil, in contrast, has given 91.6 million jabs versus a full vaccination of 24.6 million or 11.7 percent of its total population of over 214 million. India has inoculated 293 million against 51.6 million who received full vaccination, or just 3.8 percent of its total population of 1.39 billion.

The US has given full vaccination to 151 million people, or 45.9 percent of its total population of 332.9 million, while the Philippines has administered two jabs to 2.25 million, or just 2.1 percent of the total population.

The wider vaccine coverage in France, Italy and the US has given their respective governments the confidence to significantly reopen their economies. In the case of Italy, its government no longer requires the wearing of face mask as protection to Covid-19. Many states in the US have allowed the full reopening of their restaurants and let spectators to watch professional basketball games. France, as we have seen on television, accommodated thousands of spectators to watch the final tennis matches of the French Open.

We may be months away yet from administering two jabs to at least one-fourth of our 111 million population. But I see encouraging signs from our LGUs and the resolve of the private sector to vaccinate their workers.

The city of San Juan in Metro Manila may be close to becoming the first city or municipality to reach its herd immunity target. Per the report of San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, his city has inoculated 64,276 individuals against Covid-19, or 75 percent of the 85,400 target population as of last week. The city has administered two doses to 18,873, or 15.5 percent of its total population of 122,000. San Juan may be the second-least populated in the capital region after Pateros, but inoculating 15 percent of its population at this stage is a significant accomplishment.

Las Piñas, though, may be the fastest LGU in Metro Manila now in the vaccine rollout with 200,000 jabs administered to its residents as of last week.

As I’ve written in this column before, we should encourage LGUs to race against each other to reach the ultimate goal of attaining herd immunity. The LGUs must also adapt to what’s happening on the ground and the availability of vaccine supply. I agree with Mayor Isko Moreno when he immediately withdrew his policy to refuse walk-in Covid-19 vaccine applicants after a low turnout. Any available vaccine must be delivered to the population with dispatch to avoid the next wave of infection.

Over in Quezon City and other parts of Metro Manila, local executives are expanding the vaccine rollout to other centers like barangay halls, churches and homeowners’ associations. The so-called QC Bakuna Nights, which accommodate night inoculations for workers who have no time to go to their vaccination center during the daytime, is also an innovative scheme.

LGUs as well as those in the provinces can draw up more creative ideas in the vaccination drive and do the job with more resolve. Every dose delivered from abroad must be dealt with immediately under the least cumbersome process. All Filipinos must be protected against the arrival of the next virus variant.

For comments, e-mail mbv.secretariat@gmail.com or visit www.mannyvillar.com.ph.

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