DOH-6 urges public to get COVID-19 booster shots

The Department of Health in Western Visayas is pushing for booster shots against coronavirus disease 2019 as cases start to rise again. (Arnold Almacen file photo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

The Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD) again urged the public to get their booster shots against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as other areas in the country noted spikes in cases, especially among unvaccinated individuals.

DOH-WV CHD Infectious Disease Section chief Dr. Bea Camille Natalaray said the public should not be complacent and they still need to get their booster shots as these provide the best long-term protection against the virus and its complications.

“Ang aton nga mga vaccination site, na-locate na siya sa aton nga Rural Health Units (RHUs), available gyapon ang aton mga bakuna kag booster, so tani mag-pabakuna kita kung eligible na kita,” Natalaray said in a radio interview.

Natalaray added that while the coverage of fully vaccinated individuals (those who finished their first and second COVID-19 vaccine shots) in the region is high, the number of persons who received the booster shots (both first and second) remains low.

“Currently ang aton nga data as of March 2023, ang aton fully vaccinated diri sa region is at 94.33 percent, ang may booster is 17.53 percent, kag ang may ara second booster, only 1.92 percent,” she said.

Natalaray admitted that the seven-day vaccination average in the region went down to only 300 to 400 jobs this year from over 1,000 administered vaccine doses last year.

“Ang aton seven-day average sang vaccination accomplishment sa region naga range from 300 to 400, compared to last year, nga aton seven-day accomplishment ga-abot pa linibo, subong nag nubo siya to 300 to 400 vaccinated individuals per day,” she said.

Meanwhile, Natalaray confirmed that there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in the region this month, which she attributed to mass gatherings in various areas amid the easing of health and safety restrictions.

“Since naga-open na kita sang aton activites, ang aton economy, high ang possibility sang interaction sa community, which is pwede gid ya nga mas dasig kita malatunan,” she said.

DOH-6 data indicated that the daily average of COVID-19 cases in the region increased to 11 cases per day this month from only six cases per day in March 2023.

On Thursday, April 13, 2023, DOH-6 recorded 20 new COVID-19 cases in the region, which include seven cases in Iloilo City; five in Bacolod City; four in Iloilo province; two in Negros Occidental, and one case in Aklan.

Natalaray noted that despite the spike in cases this month, Western Visayas’ healthcare utilization rate remained (HCUR) at low risk as only 19.09 percent or 384 beds are currently in use out of the 2,012 isolation/COVID-19 ward beds, ICU beds, and medical ventilators in different health facilities in the region.

In a separate advisory, DOH-6, however, stressed that while the HCUR in the region remains low, “the public still needs to sustain preventive and control measures against COVID-19.”

“Aside from vaccination, wearing of face masks when in crowded and closed spaces or gatherings is still encouraged to mitigate transmission, not only of COVID-19, but also of other respiratory diseases. If manifesting symptoms, it is best to isolate and refrain from interacting with others, and to seek consult to the nearest facility for proper medical attention,” DOH-6 added in a statement.