THE Davao City Government has launched a dialogue with various religious leaders and members of indigenous peoples groups in far-flung areas in the city after some are still hesitant of getting the Covid-19 vaccine, with some even prohibiting its members from going to the vaccination sites.

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte bared this in a radio interview on Friday, November 12, that they reached out to various sectors through a series of consultations in Barangays Baganihan and Magsaysay in Marilog District.

"Nakit-an gyud nako sa (at) Barangay Magsaysay, nakalingkod ang potential vaccinee, unya gikuha pa sa mga silingan ug gipapauli," she said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.

(I witnessed first hand a potential vaccinee who was already sitting and waiting to be inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine, but the person was made to go home by a neighbor.)

She added that there was a low turnout of vaccinees in Baganihan after some tribal leaders called "bagani'' are also not in favor of having their community members vaccinated.

Villafuerte said disinformation remains a challenge as some residents think that they would turn into zombies months after being vaccinated. This was also revealed by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in a previous radio interview.

Another disinformation, according to the councilor, included stories of some experiencing adverse effects from Covid-19 with some claiming to have died.

"Continuous ating dialogue with people who are still questioning or doubting, dili pa mutuo. Ang uban kay mas grabe kay waa sila gatuo sa Covid[-19],” she said.

(There is a continuous dialogue with people who are still questioning or doubting or who do not believe in the vaccines’ efficacy. Some even don’t believe in Covid-19.)

"Ang mga statement is ‘nabuhi na walay bakuna’," she said.

(Some even say that they lived their life free of a vaccine and are doing fine.)

The official said there is a need to continuously reach out to them, even if some continue to ignore the availability of the vaccines within their community.

Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) head Angel Sumagaysay in an interview with the City Information Office said that among the major takeaways of the consultation was the need for a proper explanation on the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccines.

He said this information gap was properly addressed by the City Health Office (CHO) Vaccination Cluster through Doctor Joy Villafuerte and the Marilog District Health Officer. Following the successful consultation, a vaccination drive was scheduled for November 19.

Sumagaysay said Magsaysay is an area with poor mobile phone signal, and their primary source of information is radio. They found out that the majority of the constituents in the area listen to programs that advocate against vaccination.

“Napasabot naman nato kay ang punto kaganina nga nakita nato is ang mga tao wala gyud, walay nag-isplekar sa ila, ilang nadunggan lang sa radio,” Sumagaysay said.

(We really saw that no one tried to explain to them properly and they continued to believe what they hear on the radio. So we had to explain it to them.)

Through the consultation, Sumagaysay said they also found that church leaders cannot also properly explain to the people about the vaccine and how it affects them.

He said they tapped the church leaders to help in the vaccination campaign because “sila gyud ang naay pinaka-vital role nga ma-disseminate ang programa sa gobyerno mahitungod sa vaccination (they also have the vital role in the disseminating the programs of the government),”

The gathering was attended by leaders from seven religious groups, Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR), tribal leaders, Datus, Bagani Forces, City Health Office Vaccination Cluster, Marilog District Health Officer, Punong Barangay, and his council, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Provincial Officer, a representative from City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), Marilog Police Station, Representative of Office of Councilor Villafuerte and representative from 3rd Infantry Battalion.

Another consultation is scheduled within the week in another barangay for wider information dissemination

According to the latest data of the Vaccination Cluster as of Friday, the city has vaccinated 909,149 individuals for the first dose, which is equivalent to 69.94 percent of the target population for herd immunity; and 836,122 individuals administered with the second dose, which is equivalent to 64.32 percent of the target population for herd immunity.

The city aims to inoculate around 1.2 million or 70 percent of the population by the end of November.

Duterte-Carpio has attributed the low number of cases, as well as the zero critical and high-risk barangays for the week, to the massive vaccination rollout of the city.