PHL starts preparing for transition to “new normal”; DOH eyes house-to-house vaccination campaign



New normal roadmap to be presented by March to President Duterte

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with key government officials prior to his “Talk to the People” at the Malacañan Palace on February 14, 2022. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

(Eagle News) – The Philippines has started to prepare for the transition to the new normal as the government intensifies its vaccination campaign, moving towards house-to-house vaccination as a strategy to reach the unvaccinated population.

Malacanang said that “Alert Level 1” is considered the new normal amid the continuing pandemic.

To attain this, the government needs to prioritize the vaccination of the elderly which as of last week still number to about 2.5 million, according to the World Health Organization.

Acting presidential spokesperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that there are two conditions to be met to be under Alert Level 1. The first is to have higher vaccination rates for senior citizens and those with comorbidities, and to have the “great majority of the population to be fully vaccinated and even boosted.” Second is compliance with the minimum public health standards such as wearing of face masks, frequent hand washing, maintaining physical distancing and ensuring adequate airflow.

A passenger (C) sits inside a tricycle covered with a reminder to wear a mask, part of the Covid-19 health protocols, in Manila on February 16, 2022. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

“So importante po na itong mga conditions na ‘to are met para po marating natin iyong tinatawag na Alert Level 1 if that is what you want to loosely call as the new normal,” Nograles said in a Laging Handa press briefing.

-Roadmap to Alert Level 1 being finalized-

He said that the Inter-Agency Task Force is already finalizing the “roadmap to Alert Level 1” for Metro Manila or the National Capital Region and the other regions which would be able to fulfill the Alert Level 1 requirements and conditions.

“And a big part of that roadmap to Level 1 has to do a lot with compliance ng mga establishments to the minimum public health standards within their own establishments,” Nograles said.

“Kaya napakalaking bahagi po dito iyong safety seals, iyong safety seal certification, especially sa mga establishments na nasa 3Cs – iyong closed setting, close contact, iyong confined establishments – iyon iyong mga kailangan po talaga natin to ensure that they all follow the minimum health standards,” he said.

-Mixed strategy of Covid vaccination: fixed sites plus house-to-house jabs-

Department of Health spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they are now employing a “mixed strategy” of having fixed vaccination sites and also doing house-to-house vaccination especially in far-flung areas.

“So, ngayon, nagbabahay-bahay po. Marami po. Nagka-mix na tayo ng strategy. It is not just a fixed vaccination site kung saan pupunta lang ang tao ang bakunahan, ngayon po ang vaccinators natin ay nagbabahay-bahay na po sila, lalung-lalo na doon sa mga lugar na malalayo para mas ma-reach pa po natin iyong atin pong mga kababayan na hindi po talaga makapunta sa ating vaccination sites,” Vergeire said.

“So malaking tulong ang mga programang ito kasi in a number of days lang nagkakaroon tayo ng achievement ng targets natin, at malaki po ang naitutulong nito sa accomplishment natin at, of course, sa coverage po sa ating buong bansa,” she said.

-High vaccine hesitancy among senior citizens-

Vaccine testing czar and Presidential Adviser For Covid-19 Response Vivencio “Vince” Dizon said that it is now getting harder to reach the unvaccinated.

Many of the fully vaccinated senior citizens and other eligible members of the population are not aware that they need to get booster doses after three months.

Dizon said that they had also observed a high percentage of vaccine hesitancy among senior citizens.

“Napapansin din po natin na marami din po sa ating mga senior ang medyo mataas-taas po ‘yung vaccine hesitancy. So it takes longer and it takes more effort to find them and to convince them to get vaccinated. Pero critical po ito kaya ito po ang ginagawa nating pagsusuyod kasama ng ating Department of Health at lahat ng agencies of the national government para po maprotektahan natin ang ating seniors,” he said in his report to President Rodrigo Duterte.

-Other priority groups, areas for Covid jabs-

Dizon said that aside from boosting the majority of the fully vaccinated, the government also targets to get more of the children vaccinated.

He said that some 9 million 12 to 17 year-old kids have already been vaccinated, while another 15 million five to 11 year old kids are targeted for vaccination.

Overall, the government’s priority is to focus on immunizing Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Soccsksargen, Caraga Region and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“Geographically, our priority is, Mr. President, are: Region IV-B, iyon pong ating island provinces, MIMAROPA Region; ang Region V; ang Region XII; CARAGA; at BARMM. These are the regions that still have vaccination rates of at least one dose below 70 percent of our target. So kailangan po nating pataasin ito dahil ang sabi po ng ating mga experts, especially as we move towards the new normal, kailangan po at least 70 percent ng target population ay bakunado na sa mga regions natin,” Dizon explained.

“Very critical po ang vaccination rate as we enter the so-called new normal,” he said.

He said that the National Task Force po and the experts of the Department of Health are currently working very hard to develop a new normal roadmap which they want to present to President Duterte by next month.

“We are confident that this will be ready to be presented to you, Mr. President, by the beginning of March,” the Presidential adviser on COVID-19 response said.

(Eagle News Service)



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