Mayor gets his first jab against COVID-19

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After receiving a go-signal from the Department of Health, Mayor Evelio Leonardia had his first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine at the Bacolod City Government Center Saturday, April 17, together with several other medical frontliners of the City.

OIC-City Health Officer Dr. Edwin Miraflor Jr. administered the jab on Leonardia.

Witnessing the vaccination were Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, who chairs the city’s IATF; Councilor Renecito Novero, chair of the Quarantine Centers Action Team; and Councilor Lady Gles Pallen, president of Liga ng mga Barangay.

Advisory No. 26 dated April 5, 2021 of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center listed Bacolod City among the LGUs considered by the National IATF and the DOH as high-risk areas. LCEs of such LGUs have now been approved for the vaccine shots under Priority Group A1.5.

As national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), Leonardia had written to President Rodrigo Duterte on March 31, 2021 “respectfully appealing for the reclassification and inclusion of LCEs among frontline workers in Priority Group A1 because it is a win-win strategy.”

Leonardia cited that by now, 12 city mayors have already gotten infected with COVID-19, some even getting it twice, despite their best efforts in observing the minimum health standards, Leonardia said.

“This risk is unavoidable because LCEs are greatly exposed to the contagion due to the magnitude and demands of their work.

Thus, LCEs, too, are essential frontliners and need to be protected immediately through vaccination. LCEs must also be inoculated now rather than later to minimize the virus’s spread because, unknowingly, these LCEs could already be asymptomatic carriers of the virus,” he added.

According to Leonardia, cities are natural epicenters of the pandemic with their dense populations, and city mayors who manage them should get this protection through vaccination.

Leonardia further said that LCEs have a huge role in building vaccine confidence among their constituents. “If they are reclassified as Priority Group A1 and get vaccinated ahead, then they could serve as the local vaccine champions, examples, and models.”

Leonardia, also as executive vice president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), further said that ULAP already approved a resolution to also include all other LGU officials in Priority Group A1.

On why he chose the AZ vaccine, Leonardia said: “I felt morally bound to use the AstraZeneca vaccine because this is the brand that Bacolod City ordered. Despite what others say, it is still legitimate, highly reliable, and reasonably priced,” said Leonardia.

Bacolod City has contracted 650,000 doses of AZ. “At 2 doses per person, this means 325,000 Bacolodnons will be inoculated with the AZ brand. That is about 76 percent of our vaccinable population,” said Leonardia.

“If this will be given to our constituents, then I should have it too as a matter of moral leadership,” he added.

On this leadership issue, Leonardia quoted Mahatma Gandhi – “There goes my people and I must follow them for I am their leader.”

Leonardia added that he is glad that he was given the chance to be a model and champion for the City’s vaccination program and hopes that the question that people have been previously asking – if Mayor Bing will avail of the vaccines – has now been put to rest.

By getting vaccinated himself, Leonardia said he hopes that he has given a strong message to Bacolodnons to get vaccinated, too, when more vaccines will start arriving, either from the national government or from what the City has directly purchased from AZ. The latter vaccines are expected to arrive in batches starting July this year.

“This vaccination is our only way out of this pandemic and the means to restart our economic recovery,” Leonardia further emphasized.

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