Less than 50 percent of the people in Eastern Visayas eligible for COVID-19 boosters have received their shots because of a huge hesitancy rate, or they see no need for further inoculations.
Since the first recorded case of COVID in Region 8 last March 23, 2020, the Department of Health has yet to administer booster shots to 50 percent of the eligible population ages 12 years old and above and to vaccinate the remaining 5-to-11 years old for the second round of vaccination.
As the lives of Eastern Visayas residents gradually return to pre- pandemic state, the DoH said it is still working to administer the first booster shots to people in the region.
Also, since the launching of the first reiteration of the Bakunahang Bayan on July 26, 2022, Eastern Visayas administered a total of 524,822 booster doses, or just 15 percent of the region’s target population.
DOH said they are already held a vaccination drive dubbed Bakunahang Bayan from Dec. 5 to 7 in different local government units, and health centers.
“If we will not be able to reach the target in three days, we hope to attain the goal before the end of 2022. We are doing this with the foreseen influx of local and international travelers and mass gatherings tied with the holiday season,” said DOH regional information officer Jelyn Lopez-Malibago.
In a street survey by OpinYon 8 it was found that 8 out of 10 people from Tacloban City and 5 out of 5 (100 percent) respondents from Tolosa, Leyte said they don’t see the need to undergo more vaccinations or booster shots.
“Waray na kami magpa booster ma’am kay bagat okay na man. Di na ngani gihap nag mamask kay bisan didi ha downtown. Maguol la it pinila pila ngan may mga trabaho kami sayang it oras,” a vendor in Tacloban city told OpinYon 8.
If vaccine hesitancy grows, particularly for the booster shots, many are concerned that this may lead to wasting of allocated vaccines in the provinces.
In the data released by DOH, some 800,000 vials have been wasted in Eastern Visayas alone which represents eight percent of total stocks and most of the vials were wasted because of Typhoon Odette in Southern Leyte late last year.
DOH Undersecretary Camilo Cascolan clarified that wastage refers to vaccines damaged by natural disasters, broken vials, discoloration, transportation, and wrong storage temperature as different brands have different storage temperature requirements.
Cascolan further stated that the wasted vaccines were about 17 percent of the total allocation for the whole of Visayas and still within the 25 to 30 percent acceptable threshold set by the World Health Organization and even assured the return to supplier and replacement of wasted vaccines.