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DOH raises alarm over slow vax jabs

By Mar S. Argulles

The Department of Health (DOH) has raised concern over the sluggish vaccination coverage affecting frontline health workers in various local government units (LGUs) in the Bicol region.

Dr. Rita Mae Ang-Bon, DOH Covid-19 program coordinator recently urged LGUs to speed up their vaccination program for reasons that the region is lagging behind its target coverage as compared to other regions.

“Bicol is second from the bottom as compared to other regions in the country marami na mga regions naka attain na ng 85 to 95 percent coverage in their vaccination programs,” she said

Ang-Bon said the region has only attained 62 percent vaccine coverage for the A1 priority group, which includes frontline workers in public and private hospitals, infirmaries, quarantine and isolation facilities, rural health units and offices, stand-alone facilities, clinics, diagnostic

centers, dental clinics, dialysis centers, and Covid-19 laboratories.

She also dismissed reports that the National Vaccine Operation Center (NVOC) has warmed that it would suspend additional vaccine roll out to regions that failed to meet their vaccination target coverage.

She said what the NVOC wanted was for the regions, including Bicol to focus on increasing vaccination coverage of Priority Group A1.

“The challenge for the LGUs is to utilize the remaining vaccines for A1 in order to increase coverage to at least 85 percent,” she said.

Citing the DOH vaccination roll-out, she said currently 113,931 persons were inoculated with either first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines in Bicol, which is only 2.6 percent of the estimated 3.6 million target population with age 18 years old and above

Out of the 113,931 already inoculated: 66,779 or 62 percent came from the A1 priority group; 28,884 or 5 percent belonged to the A2 priority group or senior citizens; 12,856 or 29 percent are those persons with comorbidities; 3,097 or .06 percent are frontline uniformed personnel; and 2,315 others.

As for the vaccine deployment and utilization in the region, Albay ranked first with 14,614 jabs or 89 percent coverage rate; second was Camarines Norte with 6,430 doses 85 percent coverage.

Provinces that failed to meet the minimum coverage mark include: Catanduanes, 5,687 doses or 62 percent coverage; Sorsogon with 11,616 jabs at 61 percent coverage; Camarines Sur, 27,687 jabs with only 56 percent coverage; and Masbate with 16,344 jabs with 40 percent coverage.

Given the slow vaccination rate, she challenged LGUs to intensify their vaccination coverage by looking back at their planned vaccine master list especially those health frontliners that are still undecided.

Ang-Bon explained that with the low vaccination coverage rate in the region would mean serious consequences such as increasing the danger of the virus infections among frontline health workers, and for the communities to experience frequent lockdowns, while health facilities would be full with patients due to the spikes in Covid-19 cases.

The simultaneous implementation of the vaccination program in various LGUs covering frontline health workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities has left behind those other health workers who are either still undecided or those assigned in remote areas, she said.


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