VACCINATION ROADMAP. PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar is in Cebu on Tuesday (Jan. 19, 20210) to lead the government's information drive, explaining to the Cebuanos about the Duterte administration's effort to vaccinate the Filipino people. Andanar said the country's metropolitan areas – Manila, Cebu, and Davao – will receive their vaccines on the third or fourth week of February. (PCOO photo)

CEBU CITY – Residents in Metro Cebu can expect to receive their vaccines on the third or fourth week of February, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Tuesday.

Speaking during a government-initiated information drive in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue, Andanar said Metro Cebu, along with other metropolitan areas such as the National Capital Region and Metro Davao that have high coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) attack rate, is listed for the vaccination rollout.

Andanar said healthcare workers, senior citizens, and indigents will be prioritized. The program targets "two million Filipinos by April".

“The government does not have any policy which favors a specific vaccine brand or country from which it originates. With our current negotiations, we have ensured that we will receive at least 137 million doses and this may expand to 172 million doses by next year,” he told participants of the Pagduaw 2021, PCOO’s communications plan where the vaccination effort of the national government is explained to the public.

He said the event here was a rollout of the national information drive aimed at easing the worries of the people about the Covid-19 vaccines.

The PCOO, he said, will continue to operate the Laging Handa information and communications campaign “to assure the public that the Duterte administration is on top of the Covid-19 situation".

The PCOO chief said the government is now considering challenges in the national rollout of the vaccination program, citing reports of death or injuries of individuals abroad after getting inoculated because of mistakes in managing the vaccination programs of their governments.

“We can learn from their mistakes,” he said, adding that one of the challenges is to manage the logistical and storage needs for the vaccines to avoid spoilage.

Combating fake news

Undersecretary Ramon Cualoping III, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) director general, said the PCOO will work hard in explaining to the people the truths in the vaccination effort.

“We go beyond informing the people. Informing the people is a basic step but if they don’t understand what the problem is all about, misinterpretation kicks in and the people’s trust (on the vaccination program) starts to loosen,” Cualoping told the participants of the Pagduaw 2021 at the Bayfront Hotel.

Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales, meanwhile, urged the Cebuanos not to rely on fake news if they want to know the facts in the government effort to inoculate the people against Covid-19.

“Let’s be ready because the vaccines are coming already. Let’s plan on how many doctors, nurses, and barangay health workers we need. Where will we bring the vaccines for storage,” Gonzales said in Cebuano.

Andanar will also lead the PCOO team for another Pagduaw 2021 town hall meeting in Siquijor on Wednesday and in Dumaguete City on Thursday.

Thanking the gov’t

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, in his welcome remarks, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for sending the PCOO team to Cebu to educate them about the national plan in addressing the Covid-19 crisis.

Cortes called for collaboration and cooperation among government and private entities for effective interventions against the deadly virus.

Speaking on behalf of Mayor Edgardo Labella, Cebu City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia said the Cebuanos are very thankful to Duterte for sending Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases chief implementer Roy Cimatu and his deputy, Melquiades Feliciano to this city to establish means to combat the coronavirus disease here.

The presence of the national government, he said, has contributed so much to the downtrend of Covid-19 cases in the city, which became a hotspot of the crisis in the region in June last year. (PNA)