Baguio City takes center stage in the government’s response against the Covid-19 pandemic with its high vaccination and utilization rates almost a year after it was commended by the national Inter-Agency Task Force and World Health Organization for benchmarking the contract tracing system.
The city government, through its concerned offices led by the City Health Services Office is leading all local government units in the Cordillera in the ongoing mass vaccination to reach 70 percent of the eligible population in each LGU.
A recent bulletin released by the Department of Health-Cordillera showed that Baguio has already surpassed the 70 percent target set by the national government when it posted a vaccination rate of 109.67 percent for those fully vaccinated as of Dec. 24.
This, as Baguio has already fully inoculated 277,849 individuals, especially when it opened its vaccination sites to individuals who are residents of outlying towns of Benguet but work in the city. Baguio’s original target at the start of the rollout was more than 190,000.
As of Dec. 24, Baguio has also administered over 16,000 booster shots, the highest among all LGUs in the Cordillera followed by Benguet with 6,284 booster shots administered.
Meanwhile, Ifugao, Benguet, and Mountain Province are lagging in their vaccination program.
DOH-CAR records show that Ifugao has fully vaccinated 48.20 percent of the 148,444 target population while Benguet has inoculated 50.41 percent of the targeted 338,754 population.
Mountain Province, on the other hand, has already inoculated 64.23 percent of the 110,189 eligible population.
Abra topped all provinces with the highest fully vaccinated population with 93 percent of the targeted 173,928 individuals followed by Apayao with 74.61 percent of the 87,310 targeted population then Kalinga with 63.72 percent of the 155,094 population.
Vaccination best practices of Baguio shared:
Several factors have greatly contributed to the success of the mass vaccination of Baguio City through the CHSO and its partners from the government and private sectors.
Foremost is the high regard for the value of equity. This means the city government gives premium to all health workers and senior citizens, as they are given priority at all times in the vaccination program.
Before the vaccination rollout, the CHSO has set a target and the goal was to vaccinate more than 85 percent of the eligible population and to surpass the 70 percent national target to achieve herd immunity, which was eventually termed as population protection.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has emphasized on the value of teamwork, according to Dr. Donnabel Tubera-Panes, chief of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of CHSO.
One of the teamwork’s highlights in the ongoing vaccination rollout was the launch of the mobile vaccination wherein CHSO personnel with the help of the barangay health response teams reached out to individuals such as persons with disabilities, senior citizens, people with special needs in their respective houses for their shots, as they are not capable to reach the designated vaccination sites mostly located in the central business district.
The conduct of mobile vaccination has also inspired other health offices of various LGUs to duplicate the program.
The ample supply of vaccines from the national government has also bolstered the rollout in the city, which also purchased AstraZeneca vaccines for its residents. A portion of the purchased vaccine was shared to other LGUs.
There was no problem with manpower at the vaccination sites as health workers are augmented by trained personnel from the private sector such as Baguio Country Club, Philippine Export Zone Authority, Baguio-Benguet Public Information and Civic Action Group Philippines, Inc., 911 On-Call, and administrative staff of higher learning institutions.
Personnel of the Baguio City Police Office, government hospitals, Philippine Military Academy, DOH-hired vaccinators are also helping in the rollout.
The CHSO also receives support from information technology experts through the Baguio Inoculation Digital Application website to monitor vaccination uptake, breakthrough infections, and validation of vaccination records.
Panes added the timely allocation of financial resources to hire additional manpower, food for vaccinators and overtime pay of staff members greatly contributed in the success of the vaccination program.
“There are also clearly defined roles and functions of each member,” said one of the key officers of the city’s vaccination program.
Keeping the Omicron variant at bay:
At the close of the 71st Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament with Baguio as host of the benchmarking of the resumption of amateur golf tournaments in the country, Magalong announced to the participants that the biggest and longest amateur tournament was allowed by the national IATF due to the city’s breakthroughs in its Covid-19 response.
He said while the Omicron variant has not crossed the city borders yet, he expressed hope the city and its partners will implement the protocols it implemented that suppressed the spread of the Delta variant in the locality in less than two months.
The CHSO has recorded a surge in Delta variant in September, but the city managed to keep the variant of concern at bay by mid-October.
Nothing is impossible in keeping any variant of concern at bay in this mountain resort, as concerned officials noted that a disciplined Baguio citizenry is one of the key reasons why the city remains a model in the fight against Covid-19 on the local front.