(PNA photo by Oliver Marquez)

MANILA – A total of 6,140 employees of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) received Covid-19 booster shots in the simultaneous "Bakunahang Bayan: PinasLakas Special Vaccination Day" in its Central and Regional Offices on Saturday.

DILG Secretary Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos Jr., who joined department employees in Koronadal, South Cotabato for the Bakunahan activity, said the simultaneous booster vaccination immunized 1,026 personnel from the Central Office and 5,114 from the regional offices of DILG.

He said this was a clear manifestation of the department, the national government, and various stakeholders’ united stand to end the Covid-19 pandemic by building a stronger wall of immunity to protect the public from the virus through booster vaccination.

“These booster vaccination drives we organized within the department is our small way of showing the DILG’s full support to the government’s 'Bakunahang Bayan: PinasLakas Special Vaccination Days' campaign. Kaisa po ang DILG sa hangarin ng ating Pangulo sa kampanyang ito. Itataguyod po namin ito hindi lamang sa ating LGUs (local government units), ngunit maging sa loob mismo ng aming kagawaran (We are one with the President is his aim in this campaign. We will promote this not only in our LGUs but even within our department),” Abalos said in a statement on Saturday.

The "PinasLakas" campaign is an initiative of the Department of Health (DOH) targeting to boost the Covid-19 booster vaccination rate across the country by making vaccines accessible to the people in their workplaces, transportation terminals, and drugstores, among other places.

Abalos said the DILG’s vaccination program among its employees was held within the department’s central and regional offices, ensuring the convenience and availability of vaccines and booster doses for its personnel.

“Hindi na kailangan pang lumayo ng ating mga kawani sa gobyerno. Nasa DILG mismo ang bakuna kaya hindi sila mahihirapan kumpletuhin ang kanilang bakuna at kumuha ng booster shot (Our staff do not have to go away from the government anymore. The DILG itself has the vaccine so they will not have any difficulty completing their vaccine and getting a booster shot),” he said.

Abalos also enjoined the LGUs to intensify the booster vaccination program in their respective localities to achieve the government’s vaccination goal of 90 percent for the senior citizen population for the primary series and 50 percent of the general population for the first booster dose, for the first 100 days of the administration.

In a DILG memorandum, Abalos urged all local chief executives to mobilize their resources and conduct a stronger Covid-19 vaccination program until Oct. 8.

Under the memorandum, LGUs are enjoined to establish local vaccination sites in malls, plazas, markets, places of worship, basketball courts, and other covered courts; mobilize and capacitate their local Office of Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA) to conduct the vaccination drive for senior citizens; mobilize barangay officials to conduct a master listing of unvaccinated residents; and coordinate with the provincial offices and community service centers of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and identify areas with high numbers of unvaccinated IPs.

LGUs are also encouraged to heighten local advocacy and demand generation through an information, education, and communication campaign, among others.

Abalos also instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to coordinate with the LGUs, DOH Center for Health Development, and other key partners in the conduct of "PinasLakas".

He said top-performing LGUs in their PinasLakas vaccination drives shall be awarded on Oct. 9.

The implementation of the program was in adherence to the directive of President Ferdinand "BongBong" Marcos Jr.’s to ramp up the booster vaccination rate in the country.

In his first State of the Nation Address, the President directed the DOH and DILG to undertake another rollout for booster shots.

As of Sept. 27, 2022, some 73 million individuals have completed their primary vaccine series while 19.3 million have received their booster doses.

The National Capital Region has the highest number of individuals who have received booster shots with 5,089,242, followed by Calabarzon with 3,098,816 and Central Luzon with 2,635,869. (PNA)