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LGUs urged to come up with system for walk-in vaccination

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
LGUs urged to come up with system for walk-in vaccination
A senior citizen receives a COVID-19 jab at Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon city during the continuation of inoculation of Sinovac vaccine on April 14, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Saturday urged local governments to come up with a system for walk-ins or those who did not pre-register for COVID-19 inoculation during the second round of the national vaccination days this month.

More than eight million Filipinos were jabbed during the first round of the nationwide vaccination campaign from November 29 to December 1, lower than the nine million target set by the government. Another mass vaccination drive will be conducted from December 15 to 17 to achieve the goal of inoculating at least half of the Philippines' population by the end of the year.

Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said there is still room for improvement in terms of the vaccinating drive, especially in accommodating walk-ins and educating the public about the efficacy of all brands of COVID-19 shots.

"Perhaps one of the things we can still improve on is the handling of walk-ins because each LGU (local government unit) has its walk-ins that we have to accommodate. Their effort would be wasted if they are already in the vaccination sites (and they are not vaccinated) so we should have a system for walk-ins," Nograles told radio station dzBB Saturday in Filipino.

"Second, although these are isolated cases, some of our countrymen still have what we call the brand preference so we have to repeat and remind everyone na there should be no brand preference. All our vaccines are safe and effective. Whatever is there, we have to avail of it and get ourselves vaccinated," he added.

Nograles, also the spokesman of the government's pandemic task force, said among the best practices of some local governments is the conduct of house-to-house vaccinations that target senior citizens and those with health risks. With regard to complaints that some vaccination centers closed early, Nograles said inoculation sites operate for an average of 12 hours but those who are already queuing for the jabs should be served.

"As long as there are people who want to get vaccinated, we have to finish (the administering of jabs). That's also the directive of the President, if there are people who are queuing and are waiting, do not close the vaccination sites," he added.

Nograles reiterated that workers should be excused from work on their vaccination day, citing a resolution of the Interagency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Disease that took effect this month. He added that the indicative target for the second round of the mass vaccination drive would be calibrated depending on the supply of jabs and the goals set by local governments.

The government, Nograles said, has adopted a "first in, first out" scheme to ensure that the vaccines with earlier expiration dates are administered.

"The vaccine cluster is also evaluating the expiry date and we are coordinating with the manufacturer," he added.

Citing members of the government's vaccine cluster and other experts, Nograles said some of the vaccines may still be used beyond their expiration date. He added that the government is conducting a fact-finding investigation of reports that some vaccines expired or were not received by local governments.

Asked whether the government should be transparent about the giving of expired vaccines that may still be used, Nograles said the matter can be brought to the attention of the National Vaccination Operations Center. He also echoed vaccine czar Carlito Galvez's suggestion that there should be guidelines on receiving donated pandemic shots.

"While we are thankful to those who are donating, the reality on the ground also is we also do not want to (have) too many supplies that are about to expire. The pressure will be on us. Many countries also need vaccines," he added. 

COVID-19 VACCINE
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