Council approves Covid-19 immunization program

Photo by Associated Press
Photo by Associated Press

DAVAO City's Covid-19 Immunization Program is now formally institutionalized by the 19th City Council after getting the legislative nod on third and final reading on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

The ordinance was filed by Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, chairperson of the Committee on Health.

Villafuerte said in a radio interview that the ordinance hugely differs from the national government's issued national deployment and vaccination plan for Covid-19.

"We read this and we saw na kinahanglan dungagan ang atong ordinansa. Karon mas kompleto na (that we need to add things in our ordinance. This time, it is more complete)," Villafuerte said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio on January 29.

During the second reading, the councilor said they already identified the priority eligible groups for the vaccination.

According to the ordinance provision, "the implementation of the actual phases depends on the delivery (timing, available doses, logistical requirements) of vaccines to the country."

It also states that the deployment shall be based on the sectoral approach within each priority group. If possible, the ordinance said, the guidelines in the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for Covid-19 Vaccines will be followed.

Priority groups are Group A which include the frontline health workers, both public and private, indigent and non-indigent senior citizens, indigent population as determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and all enlisted uniformed personnel.

Group B includes all teachers and school workers, government workers, essential workers who are similarly providing basic services during the pandemic as determined by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), socio-demographic groups at significant higher risk other than senior citizens such as persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), persons with disabilities (PWDs), indigenous people and those living in high-density areas.

Also included in Group B are those eligible students in all levels upon the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (Nitag), Filipino migrant workers who reside in another country for a limited period of employment that were not vaccinated, and all workforces as determined by DOLE, DTI, and the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

All remaining Filipino citizens not mentioned in Groups A and B are part of Group C.

The ordinance also states that the immunization program will run until at least 70 to 85 percent of the population in the city is immunized for the purposes of herd immunity.

Villafuerte said they have also decided to create a Covid-19 Immunization Program Task Force and a Vaccination Operation Center. The Local Adverse Event Following Immunization Committee was also necessary for any events during the vaccination campaign.

She added that they have also presented in the Task Force Covid-19 and the city council a penalty clause.

"We have a penalty clause pero dili didto sa mga magpabakuna kundi didto sa mga mogamit og bakuna na dili authorized, katong mga untrained na mag-una-una og bakuna sa mga katawhan, kanang magbaligya (We have a penalty clause not for those who will be vaccinated but for those who will use unauthorized vaccines, those untrained [individuals] who will vaccinate people, and those selling vaccines)," Villafuerte said.

Meanwhile, the National Government has already implemented the deployment plan for Covid-19. In line with this, the Davao City Health Office (CHO) is working on the master list of those included in the Group A.

Villafuerte, however, clarified that a person's inclusion in the master list does not mean the person will be vaccinated immediately. She said the vaccination will be voluntary. There will be counseling to be conducted by licensed personnel who are trained by the Department of Health (DOH) or CHO.

If the person decides to receive the vaccine shot, they will sign an informed consent form provided by the DOH. Part of the screening is a physical exam to know whether they are fit to be vaccinated.

"After they are vaccinated, they will be kept in another room for 15 to 20 minutes to conduct a post-vaccination monitoring for acute allergic reactions to the vaccines," Villafuerte said.

She said that after one month of the first dose, the person receiving the vaccine will be monitored by health professionals. If something happens in the next four weeks, Villafuerte said, it will still be considered an "event after immunization."

"We only identified the priority groups, but there are exemptions. Those who are not yet ready to be vaccinated will be automatically exempted. There are those who are declared by the medical professionals to have allergies, and adverse reactions to vaccines, those who have physical conditions that are not allowed to be vaccinated," she said.

She also said the City Council has prioritized the creation of the ordinance to prepare for the vaccination and to ensure that the process of vaccination in the city is guided and well-planned.

"We hope that with these systems in place it will reassure our people in Davao City and will make them more responsive to the call of the government for vaccination," the councilor said. (With reports from CIO)


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