VAX ROLLOUT. The provincial government of Negros Oriental is offering cash incentives to health centers with high-performance vaccination ratings. This comes as the Provincial Health Office reported a poor accomplishment of about 58 percent of its target population of 1,148.424 individuals. (PNA file photo)

DUMAGUETE CITY – The provincial government of Negros Oriental is offering some incentives to health centers to boost their coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination efforts following a low performance this year.

Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Liland Estacion told the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday that Gov. Roel Degamo promised to give cash rewards to the best municipal or city health units at the end of the year with the highest vaccination record.

“This will hopefully bolster the efforts of the municipal and city health offices as well as rural health units to encourage the communities they serve to have themselves vaccinated against Covid-19 or to get their booster shots,” Estacion said.

She noted that the number of fully-vaccinated individuals in Negros Oriental had not increased much since last year, and many have not availed of the first and second booster doses.

As of Feb. 28, the PHO reported that 663,381 individuals, or 58 percent of the target population of 1,148,424, are fully vaccinated (including those who received the one-shot Janssen vaccine).

However, only 9,430, or 0.82 percent availed of the second booster dose, while 112,616 individuals got the first booster shot.

Estacion appealed to the local government units (LGUs) to help the PHO encourage their constituents to get their booster shots against Covid-19.

The slowdown in the vaccination rollout was observed late last year, which Estacion believed was due to the reported use of the so-called extended vaccines or those that had already expired but which the Department of Health (DOH) had authorized for use.

“The DOH issued a memorandum on the use of these vaccines as they have an extended period that makes them still safe even beyond their expiration date,” she said.

The PHO is undertaking massive information dissemination to explain to the people that these extended vaccines are still safe, although Estacion did not mention the brands of these vaccines.

Also, the PHO will integrate the Covid-19 vaccination in May when they will be celebrating immunization month, usually for measles, mumps and rubella and oral polio vaccine and others.

Meanwhile, the PHO also conducts regular vaccination activities at private establishments, such as department stores and a business process outsourcing (BPO) centers to accommodate walk-ins, she said.

Other incentives are also being mulled to ramp up the vaccination campaign even as Covid-19 cases in the province dropped to an insignificant level as of Feb. 28, with only five active cases recorded, she added. (PNA)