TUGUEGARAO CITY, CAGAYAN – The COVID-19 situation in the region is unlikely to improve unless there is an effective rollout of vaccines that protect against severe disease and preferably drive herd immunity. Yet having licensed vaccines is not enough. They need to be properly allocated and available where needed, widely deployed in local communities, and most of all, administered. However, challenges to these efforts arise particularly on the latter, that is why the DILG Regional Office 2, through the Local Government Capability Development Division (LGCDD) initiated the Tara Na! Magpa-RESBAKUNA! - A Regional Forum on Vaccine Implementation in Region 2 on June 24, 2021 via Zoom and Facebook Live.
This approach, in partnership with the Cagayan Valley Center for Health Development (CVCHD), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), was aimed at strengthening the crucial role of the Local Government Units (LGUs) in the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan by addressing the concerns of their constituents and boost public confidence in the vaccines. The initiative was mainly to resolve concerns particularly on vaccine hesitancy and acceptance as reflected in the regional data of the CVCHD and discussions during the National/Regional Vaccine Operations Center (N/RVOC) meetings.
The forum was attended by several local chief executives and/or their representatives and their respective City/Municipal Health Officers. Also in attendance were the DILG Provincial Directors from the five (5) provinces of the regions, cluster heads and C/MLGOOs, while partner agencies supporting the activity were represented by their respective regional directors. Most noteworthy of all were the virtual presence of health department Assistant Secretary, Elmer G. Punzalan and DILG Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns-LG Sector, Atty. Odilon L. Pasaraba, who provided guidance during the direction-setting.
As keynote speaker, Dr. Elmer Punzalan expressed his full support, and he praised the dedication of health workers who are at the frontline of the vaccine implementation. He also reiterated the importance of extensive information dissemination and patient education in order to address the issues and concerns during the implementation of the vaccine plan. Repeating President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statement, “the best vaccine is the vaccine na nasa ating balikat,” he said. Ending his speech he encouraged everyone to support the vaccination program of the government as part of overcoming the pandemic.
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Meanwhile, Dr. Ma. Angelica C. Taloma and Ms. Joyce Maquera from the CVCHD presented the COVID-19 situation and the status of the vaccination program, providing the participants an overview of statistics and documentation of their vaccination strategies in the region. Furthermore, presentations of LGU Best Practices in the implementation of their vaccine plans, particularly that of Santiago City and Angadanan, Isabela, were showcased. This was an initiative of the RTF in recognition of LGU efforts in plan implementation while encouraging others to strengthen their own campaigns in their locality.
DILG Assistant Secretary, Atty. Odilon L. Pasaraba, on the other hand, motivated all participants to support and monitor LGU vaccination efforts. He also expressed his appreciation for the active participation of all local officials and functionaries. Their presence alone “…manifests their willingness to be part of the solution,” he quipped. As added guidance, he encouraged the participants to revisit current strategies being implemented and continue to develop new strategies to increase vaccine demand and adopt best practices.
He also asked LGUs to have an efficient system for vaccination in place at all times and strongly advised against vaccine wastage and to hold accountable negligent employees and personnel.
In his concluding message, he commended Region 2, especially the agencies spearheading the forum for being the first to conduct such an activity that would tackle on issues and concerns relative to vaccine implementation. He assured continued support and that all matters raised during the forum will reach the proper authorities. (SOURCE: DILG R2,LGCDD)