Low vaccination rate in Bangsamoro region due to logistical challenges — DOH exec

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2021   •   486

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has recorded the lowest COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the country due to logistical issues, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the BARMM has received the least allocation of doses because the government is facing impediments in the delivery of vaccines, particularly to Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi areas.

She said that there are no regular flights to the said areas and that Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur do not have cold storage facilities that can handle the vaccines.

“In terms of the challenges sa BARMM magkalayo kasi iyan e meron tayong Maguindanao at Lanao del Sur… Wala silang cold room na malaki hindi kagaya ng ibang regions so they store it in a refrigerator,” Cabotaje said.

“Iyong Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi are adjacent to Zamboanga… Noong wala tayong influx of many vaccines, nakikigamit sila ng cold rooms sa ating Region 9 but now they cannot be accommodated dahil marami na ring dumadating na COVID vaccines,” she added.

The health official also cited the peace and order conflicts as among the factors that affect the delivery of vaccines to the BARMM.

She did not provide any details on the number of doses that the government has allotted for the Bangsamoro region.

DOH data showed that areas with the highest vaccination rate are the National Capital Region and the eight priority areas, including Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Batangas, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

Other priority areas are Baguio, Tuguegarao, Naga, Legaspi, Bacolod, Iloilo City, Dumaguete, Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro, and General Santos City – in the vaccine distribution priority list.

PH FDA approves COVID-19 vaccine booster jabs for general adult population

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday announced it has approved the administration of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for the general adult population.

FDA director general Eric Domingo said the booster shots will be administered to all adults aged 18 years old and above, based on the assessment of benefit and risks

Domingo said the same brands and combinations like those recommended for health workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals will be applied to booster doses for the general adult population.

The FDA earlier said that vaccine brands Pfizer, AstraZeneca, SInovac, Moderna, and Sputnik V will be used as booster shots.

The guidelines on the distribution and use of booster shots will be released by the Department of Health.

“Sisimulan na rin natin, lumabas na yung EUA Amendment mula sa FDA. Nilagdaan na po ni director general Eric Domingo yung advisory na ito… Anytime this week,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The government has started giving booster shots to health workers, senior citizens, and select immunocompromised individuals in November.

COVID-19 variant Omicron not yet detected in Philippines – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Newly-discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron has not yet been detected in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) said following reports about travelers from South Africa who are being quarantined in Negros Occidental.

“We are getting details on these travellers, we will provide info as soon. Just to be clear, no detection yet of Omicron, we are still processing next batch of whole genome sequences,” DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a statement.

The three foreign nationals arrived in Negros Occidental last November 26.

They are currently being quarantined in Manapla, Calatrava, and La Carlota City.

Local authorities said the foreign travelers arrived in the country on November 25 before the national government placed South Africa under the Red List due to the Omicron variant.

They have also been issued with Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-Pass) in Makati and have passed the approval of the Bureau of Quarantine in Manila.

The provincial government said the three are fully vaccinated and tested negative based on their RT-PCR test results. They will undergo re-swabbing while under quarantine.

Local officials have assured the public that the travelers are being monitored and that they will continue to intensify their measures against COVID-19.

Google to pause election ads during 2022 polls in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Google on Wednesday announced it will not accept election ads in the Philippines during the election campaign and silence periods for the 2022 national and local elections.

In a statement, Google said the policy will apply to election advertisements in the Philippines that are purchased through Google ads, Display and Video 360, and shopping platforms that advertisers intend to place on Google, YouTube, and partner properties.

This also includes advertisements that promote or oppose any political party or the candidacy of any person or party for public office, the tech giant added.

Based on the calendar of activities released by the Commission on Elections, the official campaign period for national candidates will start on February 8, and on March 25 for local candidates.

“Google is focusing its efforts and resources on upcoming election-related initiatives, which aim to help people access, useful and accurate information via product features and media literacy program, encourage participation in the voting process and help protect the integrity of the elections,” the tech giant said.

Under the rules and regulations of the Fair Elections Act for the 2022 elections, political advertisements or election propaganda refer to any matter broadcasted, published, printed, displayed or exhibited, in any medium, which contains the name, logo, brand, insignia and other symbol or graphic representation that is capable of being associated with a candidate, and is exclusively intended to draw the attention of the public or a segment thereof to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of said candidates to a public office.

Political advertising includes endorsements, statements, declaration, or information graphics, appearing on any internet website, social network, blogging site, and micro blogging site, which – when taken as a whole – has for its principal object the endorsement of a candidate only, or which were posted in return for consideration or are otherwise capable of pecuniary estimation.

Earlier this year, Google launched a #MagparehistroKa campaign with COMELEC and other partners.

It also hosted a website on Google Cloud to support voter registration campaigns.

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