The Department of Health Eastern Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-EVCHD) met media partners for a Press Conference on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at the Hotel de Fides, Tacloban City, Leyte to give light on the region’s COVID-19 vaccination status, the upcoming “PinasLakas: Special COVID-19 Vaccination Days” from September 26 to 30, and other matters deliberated by the Regional Vaccination Operations Center Meeting held prior to the press conference.

The panel was headed by DOH-EVCHD Assistant Regional Director Rodolfo Antonio M. Albornoz and was co-hosted by Lt. Col. Christopher Dayag from the Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division, Mr. Norman Gagarin from the World Health Organization, and Ms. Josephine Parides from the Relief International. Joining them were representatives from the Philippine News Agency, the Daily Tribune, CNN Philippines, Philippine Information Agency, Magik-FM, DYVL, Philippine Daily Inquirer, PRTV-12, ATV-24, and DYAW.

The press conference was a productive exchange between the members of the panel and members of the press which sought updates regarding the region’s COVID-19 vaccination status. ARD Albornoz admitted that albeit we have already reached our targets for the primary series vaccination (1st and 2nd dose) for the general population, the regions targets for the A2 population (senior citizens) is still lagging behind at 78 percent versus the 90 percent target. The same goes for the region’s booster shot coverage target which is currently at 13 percent versus the 50 percent target.

On that note, ARD Albornoz is hopeful that the upcoming PinasLakas vaccination days from September 26 to 30 will be a success through the (1) Risk Communication and Community Management strategies and (2) the Bakunahang Bayan Tool Kit that will be employed by the DOH-EVCHD Health Promotion and Media Affairs Unit. With that, ARD Albornoz emphasized the critical role the media partners will play to educate and inform the public about the necessity to get vaccinated and where they can get their shots. He also expressed gratitude over the contributions of various non-government and government partner agencies, such as the assistance lent by the World Health Organization, Relief International, and Philippine Army 8ID, during the region’s previous and ongoing vaccination drives.

Notably, Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Director Grace Q. Subong and ARD Albornoz deliberated extensively plans to integrate the DOH’s vaccination drives with the DSWD’s cash assistance programs. ARD Albornoz proposed for vaccination teams to be present during DSWD programs so the campaign can reach more people. To which RD Subong pleasantly agreed and committed to for future activities.

Lt. Col. Christopher Dayag meanwhile tackled on the concerns of the press towards geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas with armed conflicts in Northern Samar. He reassured the press that there have already been efforts made to reach these communities through the dedication of the Philippine Army personnel, DOH personnel, and local government units. He also noted that best practices across different regions are also key elements that help them to succeed in the vaccination drives around these areas.

On the other hand, Norman Gagarin and Josephine Parides from the WHO and Relief International declared their continued support in providing technical assistance and manpower for the DOH-EVCHD’s vaccination campaigns.