COVID-19 response to join other DOH health programs

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
COVID-19 response to join other DOH health programs
Shoppers fill the streets of Divisoria, Manila on December 8, 2022.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s COVID-19 response and preventive measures will soon be integrated with other public health programs, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.

“So COVID-19, starting January, will be integrated already with our other public health programs. It is not going to be a special program anymore, it is not going to be specific only for COVID-19, but we would want our health care units to be implementing this integration,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a press briefing.

“We want the people’s mindset to change, that we need to remove this fear in our heads when we are in this kind of situation,” Vergeire pointed out.

“There is also a need for us to be efficient. Because right now, our health care workers, our resources are all focused on COVID-19.

“We need to also instill in our minds that in implementing programs, apart from COVID-19, there are still non-COVID illnesses that we need to address,” Vergeire said.

“We are going to integrate the COVID-19 prevention measures and response in its entirety. So, it is not just COVID-19 vaccination that we talk about when we say COVID-19 response and preventive measures, we also talk about infection prevention and control in our different facilities, not just the hospitals but also in our primary care facilities,” she explained.

Vergeire added this would also include isolation and quarantine of infectious diseases. “This is not just about COVID-19 that we talk about right now, we also talk about the other infectious diseases. Right now, we have integrated this minimum public health standards (of COVID-19) with other illnesses in order to prevent it,” the health official said.

“Whatever we are doing to prevent COVID such as wearing masks, washing hands, having that distance between people and isolating when sick, that can also be applied to other diseases such as the hand, foot and mouth disease,” Vergeire expounded.

The DOH OIC also entertained the possibility of a yearly COVID-19 vaccination.

“So the evidence is continuously evolving and it is really not impossible that we will have additional vaccines in the future, or maybe we can have this (vaccination) as regular as possible,” she added.

As to the state of calamity for COVID-19, Vergeire said that based on the executive order, it would just be up to the end of the year.

“Now if the Center for Disease Control Law will not be passed before the year ends, we will engage in a talk with the Office of the President for an extension even just for a month until the CDC Law is passed,” she concluded.

Bakunahang Bayan

More than 166,000 individuals were vaccinated against COVID-19 during the recent three-day “Bakunahang Bayan” program of the DOH.

At a press briefing, Vergeire said 132,770 individuals were given first booster doses during the nationwide vaccination drive held from Dec. 5 to 7. This brought to 21,155,953 the number of Filipinos who now have first booster shots against COVID-19 – or 28.6 percent of the 73,845,425 fully vaccinated individuals in the country.

The DOH likewise reported that 33,239 children from five to 11 years old were vaccinated during the three-day inoculation drive, bringing the total number of fully vaccinated children to 5,371,242 or 49.3 percent of the 10,895,015 target population for the age group.

The DOH said the vaccination drive aims to increase the number of boosted individuals as well as fully vaccinated children, particularly those aged five to 11 years.



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