Mayor Evelio Leonardia presided over the first meeting of the newly established COVID-19 Vaccination (CoVac) Council at the Bacolod City Government Center recently.
The meeting discussed crucial preparatory measures in anticipation of the vaccine’s availability and utilization.
“We have to start preparing because it’s massive,” said Leonardia, referring to the mass vaccination that will be undertaken in the City.
The CoVac Council was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 83. It is designated to plan, supervise, and implement programs and activities related to Bacolod’s COVID-19 Vaccination Roadmap, geared towards providing citizens access to the vaccine “at the soonest possible time with the widest and most realistic coverage possible.”
Leonardia sits as the chairman of the council, with Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran as vice chairman, and City Administrator Em Ang as council coordinator.
Also attending the meeting were council members Councilor Cindy Rojas, Councilor Renecito Novero, Councilor Ayesha Joy Villaflor, City Legal Officer Atty. Joselito Bayatan, City Budget Officer Ma. Imelda Williams, OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor, and Dr. Grace Tan of the CHO-City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.
During the meeting, the mayor delegated assignments to the council officials and members.
Among these assignments was that of private sector representative Dr. Hector Gayares, who was tasked to coordinate with all the seven hospitals in Bacolod for the profiling and identification of health care professionals, medical frontliners and health care facility workers.
Councilor Renecito Novero will head the Vaccine Center Team (VCT) which will identify and develop vaccination centers in suitable places within the City, including but not limited to the City Health Office, hospitals, clinics and possible alternative facilities (e.g., Bacolod Respiratory Out-Patient Center, open-air courts, auditoriums or schools).
Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD) head Pacita Tero will identify marginalized, underprivileged and other persons in vulnerable situations who will be prioritized for vaccination.
This profiling measure will be conducted in accordance with national guidelines and would include health workers in both private and public hospitals.
According to Familiaran, all frontliners – both in public and private health establishments – should be given priority in the vaccination.
Meanwhile, Bids and Awards Committee chair Atty. Maphilindo Polvora was assigned to select and acquire the COVID-19 vaccines that will be authorized for use by the national government.
Novero said that he was asked by the mayor to also work along with Polvora to coordinate with the private sectors in accumulating funds for possible vaccine procurement.
Miraflor, on the other hand, was assigned to administer a system for registering beneficiaries, tracking the distribution of doses, and notifying beneficiaries of their eligibility and the vaccination schedule.
He was also assigned to oversee the storage of the vaccine, which includes ensuring the availability of suitable storage facilities.
Executive Assistant Joe Maria Vargas, meanwhile, was assigned to lead the transport of the vaccine. This includes the task to develop and strengthen the vaccine supply chain, which is primarily concerned with the provision and procurement of distribution facilities, equipment, vehicles and systems, and other relevant assets.
City Budget Officer Ma. Imelda Williams will assist in obtaining the necessary funding for acquisition of the vaccine through lawful means, including budget allocation or realignment, donations, grants, loans or other forms of financing, whether public or private in nature.
In the meeting, Ang suggested that a massive information campaign on vaccine acceptance and awareness be spearheaded by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to be organized by Deputy for Medical Dr. Chris Sorongon and assisted by the other EOC cluster heads.
Prior to the CoVac Council meeting, Leonardia attended the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) virtual meeting, where he was tasked to represent city mayors in the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) meetings on vaccines.
Earlier, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. had personally informed Leonardia and publicly declared that Bacolod City is among the priority areas of the national vaccination program. (News & photo courtesy of Bacolod City Public Information Office)