TACLOBAN CITY, LEYTE—The Eastern Visayas Regional Vaccination Operations Center (RVOC) held its annual meeting on September 20, 2022 at the Hotel de Fides, Tacloban City, with DOH EVCHD Assistant Regional Director Rodolfo Antonio M. Albornoz as the chairperson. He was joined by the regional directors and representatives of other RVOC members, namely: the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Department of Education, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of Civil Defense, the Philippine Information Agency, the Philippine National Police, the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. The development management officers (DMO) of the Provincial Health Offices meanwhile joined virtually apart from the DMO of Western Samar.

The executives, health officers, and personnel of the DOH-EVCHD were also joined by personnel from the World Health Organization and the Relief International—both of which played crucial roles during and with the ongoing vaccine roll outs of the government.

This was the first face to face RVOC meeting since the beginning of the pandemic, which marks a new era of hope for the whole of Eastern Visayas. The meeting discussed the region’s COVID-19 vaccination status reports on primary series vaccination and booster shot coverage targets. Ma. Elena Joy Villarosa pronounced that the region Is still far behind in its booster shot coverage target at only 13% versus its goal of boosting 50% of the total eligible population. With that, the members of the RVOC deliberated on the best practices employed by the different government agencies and local governments units during their previous vaccine rollouts which resulted to positive gains in the vaccination targets. Most notable of these is Biliran which, as of May 2022, achieved to fully vaccinate 91% of its eligible population by providing food package incentives to its constituents. The RVOC members also expressed various bottlenecks and challenges they are currently experiencing, which the RVOC chairperson then committed to look deeper into and resolve.

Partnerships for the PinasLakas vaccination drive between the Department of Health and other government agencies were also looked into. Particularly, the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) extended their hand to maximize the settings-based approach currently being employed by the PinasLakas campaign and integrate their social programs with the DOH vaccination teams. ARD Albornoz said that this will be a good strategy it is the government now who is bringing the vaccine to the people. Hence, he stressed that putting vaccinations sites around mass gatherings is the best course of action for the Department of health.

After the RVOC meeting, members from the press and the Philippine Information Agency sat with ARD Albornoz, Lt. Col. Christopher Dayag of the Philippine Army 8ID, Mr. Norman Gagarin of the World Health Organization, and Ms. Josephine Paredes of the Relief International to disseminate important matters discussed during the RVOC meeting, COVID-19 vaccination status reports, and the ongoing PinasLakas campaign which strengthens the call for the public to get boosted. ARD Albornoz further reiterates the importance of meeting the region’s primary series vaccination targets for the A2 population (Senior Citizens) as they are the most vulnerable once the economy fully opens. Currently, only 78.2 percent of the A2 population in the region are fully vaccinated versus the 90 percent target set by the IATF.