How's it going? Metro Manila mayors and the vaccine rollout
The country is inching closer to a total of a million coronavirus cases — we're at 936,133 as of April 18. As restrictions ease slightly in the Greater Manila Area (also known as "NCR Plus" for lockdown purposes), local governments are working double-time to vaccinate their citizens.
As I sat down with some of our Metro Manila mayors on my show, Pamilya Talk, to listen to their cities' initiatives, I realized how much they have stepped up. After all, local officials play a crucial role in getting the much-needed doses to Filipinos and ending this health and economic crisis. Indeed, this pandemic has forced the government, especially our local executives, to innovate and come up with out-of-the-box solutions to address the challenges brought about by COVID19.
On the eastern side of the metro, Marikina City is making huge progress with the vaccination. Mayor Marcy Teodoro pegged the number of vaccinated Marikeños close to 12,000 (as of April 12). More importantly, all of the city's medical frontliners have received their shots. This is a welcome development at a time when health personnel are working round the clock to save lives.
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto describes how vaccination has begun slowly, but surely. He says they rolled out the doses first to a few vaccinnees. "Tiningnan namin, ano ba ang kailangang i-correct sa vaccination sites natin, sa sistema namin." Whether it's managing queues of people, scheduling shots, or tracking who got the doses, tweaking processes is important so that a life-saving initiative like the coronavirus vaccination drive runs effectively.
Quezon City is also ramping up its immunization efforts. Mayor Joy Belmonte tells me that a mobile vaccination service is in the works so that even bed-ridden senior citizens or PWDs can get doses. This is on top of the 12 vaccination centers that are already catering to the "QCitizens."
Meanwhile, Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano is happy to report that there are more residents who got inoculated than those who got infected. The future is also bright with the opening of larger vaccination hubs, like the one at SM Aura Premier at the Bonifacio Global City.
I could not stress this enough. Our local leaders are saying the same thing too. We have been fighting the coronavirus for far too long. And now that the shots are making their way across the globe, we are encouraged to take them.
San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora believes in the power of word-of-mouth. For him, it is the key to have more people sign up for vaccination. The doses the country bought have gone through global clinical trials and have passed national regulatory standards. People have little to nothing to worry about as long as they follow instructions, like fully disclosing their medical history or marking their calendars for the second dose. "I would not be surprised if we [in San Juan City] will reach 80,000+ within probably a month from now," says Mayor Zamora.
Despite the slow delivery of the vaccines to the country, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno believes there will be enough doses for Filipinos. That is why he strongly encourages his constituents to pre-register. "It doesn't matter anong edad ninyo, o anong sitwasyon ninyo." Manileños can register online via manilacovid19vaccine.ph.
Up north in Valenzuela City, Mayor Rex Gatchalian has also made vaccination registration efficient for residents. They can sign up via ValTrace (valtrace.appcase.net), the same app the city uses for contact tracing. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!
But while we get more people onboard the vaccination drive, the government must also do its part in securing the doses. And it must monitor who is in front of the line. Mandaluyong City Mayor Menchie Abalos believes, for instance, that tricycle drivers must be included in the priority list, along with supermarket staff and other essential workers. "Nakaharap din sila sa mga tao, parang frontliners din," says Mayor Abalos.
Mayor Zamora shares that this health and economic crisis pushed him and his fellow mayors to put their best foot forward. "On a regular day, hindi mo malalaman sino ba talaga ‘yung masigasig, kung sino ‘yung matiyaga, sino ‘yung madiskarte."
As we know, though, the end of the tunnel is still far. We are still in the race. This is the best time to shape up, even if the world is out of shape. The mayors are exerting effort, and they deserve to be commended for that.
But aside from them, I think that we all have to step up, too. You and I can do our part by signing up and getting a shot at protection. And while we wait for our turn at the vaccination line, let us help one another by sharing quality, empowering information.
That, in particular, is the aim of my program. When digital is the trend and audiences are segmentized, PamilyaTalk is doing its best to bring you to the center of it all. Every night is not just a conversation. It's an opportunity for us to learn from others' experiences and to get the information straight from the experts themselves. It can be as practical as preparing a go-bag for the pandemic.
Or it can be something as personal as gratitude amid a thankless time.
It is my commitment to serve you by bringing you insights on the things that matter. And don't forget to share these interviews with your friends and family. Every share is a step forward in this grand race to save lives.
Please watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 6pm Monday & Wednesday; 7pm Tuesday). Please share your stories or suggest topics at [email protected] You can also follow and send your comments via my social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Kumu.