Vaccination will not define relaxed quarantine rules — mayors

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 8) — Three Metro Manila mayors said vaccination efforts will not define possible changes in quarantine rules as easing restrictions will be based on experts' recommendations.

“I don't think there's a correlation between having started or starting (vaccination of residents),” said Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte in a virtual briefing, citing countries like Israel and certain nations in Europe that began inoculation while under lockdown.

Kapag sinabi mo kunwari, magsa-start na tayo sa [For example, we will be starting this] February, it doesn’t mean that automatically magre-relax na tayo [we will relax restrictions],” she added.

Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine for the entire February, while most parts of the country are already under the lowest classification, modified GCQ.

Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco, meanwhile, reiterated his local government's “consistent” approach to listen to experts when deciding on quarantine measures.

“Ano ba ang rekomendasyon ng ating health experts vis-à-vis itong pagbabakuna? Okay, nakapagbakuna na, ano ba ang rekomendasyon niyo: pwede bang mag-MGCQ or delikado pa rin?” he said.

[Translation: What exactly is the recommendation of our health experts in relation to vaccination? Okay, say we’ve already done some inoculation. What is your recommendation: can we already shift to MGCQ or is is still too dangerous?]

Caloocan City Mayor Oca Malapitan said it boils down to the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Malapitan added that vaccination does not necessarily mean people are already 100 percent safe and it should not lead to the non-observance of health protocols, a view shared by Belmonte and Tiangco.

EXPLAINER: What you need to know about the PH COVID-19 vaccine drive

How LGUs have been preparing for vaccines

The mayors also presented measures they took to prepare for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Caloocan

Malapitan said the city beefed up logistical and human resource requirements for the handling of initial doses.

It listed 165 vaccinators as of February 2, or around one vaccinator per 100 citizens per day for seven days. The city has 54 vaccination sites, most of which are schools.

“Kasama po sa [Included in our] logistics and supplies consideration are our vaccine refrigerators, vaccine transport and vaccine carriers. The city government is currently procuring this,” said Malapitan.

Caloocan also conducted a vaccination simulation whereby the entire process — from registration up to the actual inoculation — lasts for around nine minutes. The process will extend by 30 minutes including monitoring of vaccinees, said the mayor.

The city aims to vaccinate 1.1 million residents aged 18 and above. And should it come up with 1,600 vaccinators, inoculation will be done in around seven days, he added.

Navotas

Navotas prepared ultra-low temperature freezers for the Pfizer vaccine doses, which require the coldest temperature among vaccine brands ordered the country.

The doses will come from the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility, which is expected to send over the vials this month. The local government also informed Moderna of its intent to purchase its COVID-19 vaccine, and additional doses from Pfizer once allowed.

The city has 20 vaccination sites, Tiangco said, with around 100 vaccinees per site per day. This means an estimated 2,000 residents will get shots every day, and it will take the local government around 50 days to vaccinate over 100,000 people.

Quezon City

While the cities of Caloocan and Navotas procured their own cold storage facilities, Quezon City partnered with drug distributor Zuellig Pharma for storage requirements.

The city has 24 vaccination sites ranging from health centers to gymnasiums and covered courts.

Twenty-five medical and non-medical personnel will be stationed per vaccination site, Belmonte said.

A typical vaccination process in Quezon City is expected to last for about 45 minutes, inclusive of registration, counseling, assessment, actual inoculation and observation for possible adverse effects.

“[S]o if we vaccinate for 30 days a month and then 8 hours per day with the capacity of 70 per inoculators, we will have 5 inoculators per site, a total of 350 per site times 1 month, 10,500,” said Belmonte.

She said they hope to inoculate 254,000 residents on a monthly basis, with the vaccination of targeted population to last for six to eight months.

Quezon City also has a confidence campaign to ease public fear on the vaccine.