City gov’t sticks to current plan in COVID vaxx boosters

(Arnold Almacen file photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo City government on Monday stuck to its current strategies on the administration of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) booster shots, even as cases of the disease are on the rise again and additional shots delivered remain low.

Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna of the City Health Office (CHO) reiterated the rising trend in COVID cases, with the city now recording 739 cases this month with an average of 37 cases per day, as of Oct 23, 2022.

The latest number was more than double the 317 cases in September with a daily average of 11 cases, and inching closer to the total number of cases in August (825).

Fortuna also pointed out that based on data by the Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD), the city placed fourth in the region for COVID cases in September, but this month it now tops the list.

Iloilo province follows with 680 cases, Bacolod City (263), and Negros Occidental (258).

The city’s positivity rate (the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested) is also up to 10.51 percent with a peak of 18.68 percent last Oct 17.

The Average Daily Attack Rate (the number of new cases in the city over a two-week period divided by its population) in the city rose to 7.66 on October 23 from October 16’s 5.87, indicating a rise of COVID in the populace.

Its Health Care Utilization Rate (measure of the population’s use of the health care services available to them) has also risen to 54.97 percent on October 23 from 38.94 percent on October 1.

The stark numbers are backdropped by low rate of booster shots for fully vaccinated persons as well as lower vaccination rates among the unvaccinated.

Only 11,852 persons aged 18 to 59 years old and 3,238 persons 60 years old and above have taken the second booster.

The city has logged 12,764 COVID cases in 2022, with 12,388 recovered, and 102 deaths.

Fortuna reiterated his pronouncement from last week that the public should continue to follow minimum public health standards including wearing of face masks and observing proper hygiene.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas also highlighted the extended shelf life of vaccines as well as their availability at the District Health Centers.

CHO chief Annabel Tang also pointed out that there are roving vaccination teams who go to workplaces per employers’ request.

The mayor said that as much as he would want to require people to get their booster shots, it may seem futile given the response to vaccination requirements earlier in the year.

He also nixed the idea of reinstating mobility restrictions, citing the city’s other current dilemma, including the increase in African Swine Fever cases in the province, market redevelopment, and budget woes.

“It would be difficult for people to not get boosters. If I force it like in earlier instances that I barred people from entering city hall without boosters, there will be complaints on freedoms. I’m okay with [vaccination requirements], but [vaccines and boosters] are not mandatory, so we come up with all strategies. But in the ultimate analysis, if people do not get vaccinated, then it goes to nothing,” the mayor stated.

As of Oct 23, the city has logged a total of 35,484 COVID cases (274 active, 34,507 recovered, and 703 dead) since the pandemic broke out.