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In Cordillera, the Department of Health and local governments have teamed up to provide ‘last mile’ vaccinations.

BAGUIO CITY, PHILIPPINES — The Cordillera Administrative Region’s Department of Health (DOH-CAR) has entered the “final mile” of its vaccination campaign, attempting to reduce all provinces in the region’s Alert Level 1 status by vaccinating more people against the coronavirus sickness 2019. (Covid-19).

Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, assistant regional director of the Department of Health-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the agency’s spokesperson, said the “Oplan Alert Level 1” aims to bring the vaccine and vaccination program to the farthest places in the municipalities and place all of them under the lowest existing alert level status.

The provinces of Benguet and Ifugao remain on Alert Level 2, with vaccination coverage of less than 70% in those areas.

Only the town of Buguias in Benguet has been placed on Alert Level 1, with the remaining 12 municipalities on Alert Level 2.

The settlements of Lamut and Lagawe, the capital, are on Alert Level 1, while the other nine towns are on Alert Level 2.

Before a region to be deemed to be lowered to Alert Level 1, it must have vaccinated at least 70% of its target eligible population. According to Pangilinan.

The Last Mile program is focusing on the municipalities of Kibungan, Bakun, and Tuba in Benguet, as well as Tinoc, Asipulo, Hungduan, Banaue, and Aguinaldo in Ifugao.

In the communities of Badeo and Tacadang in Kibungan, none of the 272 target senior citizens have yet been vaccinated. Only 4 percent and 8.75 percent of the 75 and 160 elderly target populations in the Bakun villages of Bagu and Kayapa, respectively, have been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, just 28 of the 219 targets in Tuba town’s Barangay Ansagan had been hit.

In Ifugao, immunization coverage in the five targeted barangays is equally poor.

Tinoc achieved 31.57 percent of the 1,134 immunization targets; Asipulo achieved 39.28 percent of the 1,046 targets; Hungduan achieved 52.55 percent of the 645 targets; Banaue achieved 56.16 percent of the 1,497 targets; and Aguinaldo achieved 66.75 percent of the 1,330 targets.

“Vaccination hesitancy and availability to vaccination are the identified common denominators of the identified regions for the last mile initiative,” Pangilinan added.

According to the doctor, the regional department has resorted to the emergency hiring of additional employees to assist in the awareness campaign and vaccination in the targeted areas, with the goal of achieving herd immunity by June this year.

“Malayo ang lakaran ng mga vaccinator, pero kinakaya nila para matulungan tayo na ma-attain ang target of vaccinating at least 70% of the entire eligible population,” Pangilinan added.

She stated that they are collaborating closely with local governments and agencies in order to reach the immunization aim.

“Vaccination is a whole-of-nation strategy,” the doctor explained, adding that “everyone is requested to cooperate because the vaccination of one contributes to the attainment of the protection of all people.”

“With unprotected residents comes the risk of an increase in cases, which might lead to a lockdown, which we all know is bad for the economy, which is why we don’t want it.” Vaccines are effective. “After you’ve had your basic immunizations, you should get a booster,” she noted.

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