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DILG launches COVID vaccine info drive

TO counter disinformation and fake news being circulated by anti-vaxxers and by the misinformed, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has launched an intensified public information drive to generate demand for and increase public confidence in the national vaccination program.

According to Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the DILG is now closely working with the Department of Health and Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in mobilizing all local government units and to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to inform the Filipinos about the benefits and risks of the vaccines.

The information campaign he said, was also aimed at countering vaccine hesitancy among some sectors of the public.

“We are mobilizing all our DILG field officers down to the municipal level and all our chiefs of police, jail wardens, and fire marshals so that they become vaccination champions. Through a series of webinars and dialogues with health experts, we will equip them in their new role as vaccination champions in their respective communities,” he said.

Malaya said that there is much to be done to generate demand citing figures during a recent open access online survey conducted by the OCTA CoVAX research team which showed only 55.9 percent of the 15,651 respondents are willing to be inoculated while 77.2 percent will get the vaccine only after majority of the population is vaccinated.

“Based on the latest data from OCTA, vaccine hesitancy is at 23%-40% depending on the location and circumstances. The good news is that after our town hall meetings, demand increases up to 99% so an information drive is instrumental to increase vaccination uptake,” he said.

The DILG official said that the challenge is huge as the vaccines are arriving soon.

Under Memorandum Circular 2021-019 signed by DILG officer-in-charge Undersecretary Bernardo Florece, all LGUs are directed to lead in local demand generation and improving vaccine confidence in their respective communities.

In the same memo, all local chief executives (LCES) and their local health committees and communication arms were directed to establish local vaccination operations centers (VOCs) with a dedicated Communications, Advocacy and Partnership Team that shall lead the demand generation and communication activities on the local level.