Local government units (LGUs) must exert all efforts in educating their constituents on the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination program, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Tuesday.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said this is to combat misinformation about the program.
“Right now, marami hong fake news na lumalabas at pag di natin ‘to na-verify at na-explain sa ating kababayan, maaaring mawalan ng kumpiyansa ang ating mga kababayan (there are lot of fake news appearing and if we do not verify and explain these to the people, they will have apprehensions about it),” Densing said during the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team visit to Pasig City.
Densing, however, clarified that those who do not want to be inoculated with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will not be forced to get the vaccine.
“Alam nyo, base sa mga implementing guidelines ng DOH (Department of Health) hindi po natin pipilitan magpabakuna yung ayaw. (Based on DOH guidelines, those who don’t want to be vaccinated will not be forced). What is important is we are able to explain this and encourage people to get vaccinated. Pero once na dumating ang bakuna, ipagpalagay po natin at naririnig natin ito na ayaw nila yung brand na naibaba sa lokal ng gobyerno, balik ho sila sa pila pero sa huli ulit (But we assume once the vaccine arrives and we hear that they don’t like the brand given to the local government, they will be at the end of the line again),” he added.
Earlier, the DILG urged all local government units (LGUs) to prepare a local vaccination plan as provided in the DOH guidelines on the National Vaccination Program and coordinate closely with their respective DOH-Centers for Health Development in preparing this plan.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that agency has issued Memorandum No. 2021-007 where LGUs are directed to come up with a vaccination plan that contains the preparation of risk communication plans and conduct of early vaccine communication campaign to disseminate critical information on Covid-19 vaccination.
The plan must also include a master list of priority eligible vaccinee population; identification of possible vaccine centers, available cold chain storages, and other logistical requirements; and a master list of existing human resources and personnel needed in the vaccination program.
Malaya said that the reorganization of existing Emergency Operation Centers in LGUs to include a dedicated arm for vaccine concerns; mobilization of barangay personnel and other volunteers to assist in the preparation and actual vaccination; and, the participation of concerned offices and personnel such as LGU health offices, Public Information Offices and Sanitation Offices, among others, must also be part of the said plan.
“This Covid-19 vaccination will be the biggest of such program sa ating kasaysayan kaya ating hinihikayat ang mga LGU na ihanda na ang kanilang mga (in our history so we encourage the LGUs to prepare their) vaccination plan for we need this to be as smooth as possible sapagkat buhay ng ating mga mamamayan ang nakasalalay dito (the lives of the people are at stake here),” he said.
Malaya also said LGUs must comply with the guidelines issued by the DOH and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 on matters regarding the vaccination and that they must be in close coordination with the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection for assistance for any assistance required.
Following the tripartite approach in LGU procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, the DILG also urged close coordination among local government units (LGUs) and between the LGUs and the National Task Force Covid-19 Vaccine Cluster led by Sec. Carlito Galvez.
Malaya said that in the recent meeting between Galvez, the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), DILG, and DOH, all component cities and municipalities with available funds for vaccine procurement are encouraged to coordinate with their provincial governments.
LGUs seeking authorization for emergency use for the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccine must also coordinate with their provincial governments to ensure that there is enough vaccine supply for everyone, he said.
In a recent advisory released by the DILG, the provincial governments are directed to consolidate all purchase requests of their component LGUs and submit these to their respective Regional Task Forces for submission to DOH and the NTF Vaccine Cluster.
Meanwhile, highly-urbanized cities (HUCs) and independent component cities (ICCs) intending to procure Covid-19 vaccines are encouraged to coordinate directly with the DOH and NTF Vaccine Cluster.
LGUs are also advised to procure not more than 50 percent of their vaccine requirement due to the current limited supply of vaccines worldwide. (PNA)