Local government units (LGUs) do not only lack COVID-19 vaccines, but they also do not have enough vaccinators. This concern was echoed among the participants in the webinar “May Bakuna Pero Walang Magbabakuna: What Can LGUs Do?” of the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) and the Philippine Center for Population and Development.
During the webinar held last June 18, Dr. Aleli Annie Grace Sudiacal of the Department of Health assured that the national government would urgently hire needed personnel.
Inadequate human resources
Due to the shortage of personnel, most LGUs rely heavily on volunteers. Some volunteers, however, are not as committed and unwilling to take on other related tasks. Some do not even show up.
Another consideration among LGUs is balancing the team members onsite and doing house to house for the marginalized sector, such as the bedridden senior citizens.
Having inadequate manpower is especially felt in small towns and geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA). Rural health units in small towns only have one doctor and two nurses.
The DOH emphasized developing a national deployment vaccination plan for a successful vaccination program toward herd immunity by vaccinating 70% of the population. Further, the plan should be reviewed to employ innovative strategies and mechanisms in addressing emerging challenges.
To stop relying on volunteers, pharmacists and midwives can now administer vaccines in addition to doctors, nurses, and dentists. Administrative and support functions can also be given to non-health care workers. Graduates of health science education courses who are not yet licensed may be part of the vaccination teams provided that they are under the supervision of licensed health professionals. Other health professionals, such as medical technicians, cannot administer the vaccine but can be part of the vaccination team.
Simply adding personnel, however, is not sustainable. For Sudiacal, the national government and private sector should consider regulatory and financing interventions requiring all graduates of health-related courses to render mandatory service as members of the vaccination team and the vaccination to be covered by health and maintenance organizations (HMOs).
A recording of the webinar can be found on ZFF’s Facebook Page: https://bit.ly/2Uhb4id.