Collab ramps up vaccination efforts in Quezon town
According to the World Health Organization, aside from practicing the minimum health standards like wearing face masks, washing hands, and physical distancing, access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to end the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines have been deployed in all countries to prevent further transmission and mutation into more deadly variants of the virus.
While the Philippines has significantly increased its stockpile of vaccines, logistics and vaccine hesitancy have slowed down vaccination, especially in rural communities. While local health units are having problems in manpower and resources, misinformation is rampant, preventing people from visiting vaccination sites.
These problems were also experienced by Padre Burgos, a fourth-class municipality in Quezon. In an effort to address these, the local government, Yakap at Halik Multipurpose Cooperative Quezon 2, local microfinance institutions (MFIs), CSO and Public Sector for COVID-19 Response Coalition, Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) , and Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) banded together in November 2021 to vaccinate a large portion of the community.
The effort has since paid off. Based on the data of the Padre Burgos Rural Health Unit (RHU), the fully vaccinated individuals (two doses, or with Janssen) in the town increased from 18.07% of the qualified population of 18,307 in November to 53.69% or 9,829 individuals as of January 19, 2022.
Vaccine Collab: What Works
Aiming to replicate the success of the vaccination efforts in Caloocan, the CSO Coalition and PEF met with the local actors in Padre Burgos to identify challenges and address gaps in their own vaccination efforts. Allan Sicat, MCPI executive director and PEF board member, brought Center for Agriculture and Rural Development’s Mutually Reinforcing Institution (CARD MRI), ASA Philippines and Tulay sa Pag-Unlad, Inc. (TSPI) into the collaboration.
“Ang nais natin ay mapabilis ang pagbabakuna sa pamamagitan ng education at communication campaign at pagtutulungan ng civil society organizations at local government,” PEF Executive Director Roberto Calingo said.
In a span of more than two months, issues such as slow data collection and completion, and low vaccine acceptance were addressed through the following initiatives:
Information campaign. CARD MRI, ASA Philippines and TSPI conducted house to house orientations to their clients on the importance of vaccination.
RHU, with the suggestion of the CSO coalition, have also created posters with photos of vaccinated residents in their area to help in their Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaigns.
Volunteerism. The Padre Burgos RHU formally partnered with Yakap at Halik last November to boost vaccination rates among the target population. In the agreement, the cooperative provided volunteers consisting of encoders and staff in the registration areas to help the health units during the vaccination.
Logistical support. To help these volunteers, PEF provided meal allowance and laptops for their work.
In barangays far from vaccination sites, the local MFIs provided transportation to bring their willing clients to RHU units and barangay vaccination areas.
Knowledge sharing. The CSO coalition, who played a vital role in the vaccination program in the city of Caloocan, has provided information toolkits and other materials to fight hesitancy in Padre Burgos.
The coalition also tapped Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation for a training on how to use the Miñana Matrix, a tool that will help guide RHU to determine their targets in their own vaccination efforts.
PDRF also shared the best practices from the vaccination efforts of LGUs in Metro Manila.
According to Dr. Cleo Leria of the RHU, these joint efforts complemented with their own strategies such as barangay and walk-in vaccinations, helped boost vaccination rates.
“Early January na-hit na natin yung 50% target. Malaki ang tinaas talaga. Ngayon, we are aiming for 70% na target for qualified individuals with at least one dose of the vaccine, she said
Dr. Leria added other strategies such as coordinating with the municipal social welfare and development office for IEC campaigns with 4Ps beneficiaries and vaccination of the indigent population and allowing walk-ins in barangay vaccination.
Beverly Jane Ponteras from ASA Philippines, also lauded the joint strategies in the success of their efforts.
“Sa ASA, 84% of our clients sa Padre Burgos ay vaccinated na, while the remaining 16%, nagkaroon na ng first dose. 63 na relatives ng aming mga clients ay napadala rin namin sa mga vaccination sites,” she said.
TSPI and CARD MRI were able to send 100 and 75 of their clients, respectively, to barangay sites and RHU.
According to Kathleen Loresca, project manager of the CSO Collab, they are looking to replicate similar efforts to other municipalities in the country to ensure hastening the end of the pandemic.
“We will share the Padre Burgos experience as we are looking to replicate this collaboration model to other areas,” she said.