(MNS Photo)

MANILA, June 27 (Mabuhay) — COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has remained at 33% of its population, far below the 70% target set before the Duterte administration ends.

National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) chairperson and Health Undersecretary Dr. Myrna Cabotaje noted that 1.1 million out of the 3.5 million BARMM population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Pero talagang humataw sila bandang after the Ramadan because of the special vaccination days kasi nasa 20 [percent] lang sila (Their vaccination coverage significantly increased after Ramadan because of the special vaccination days. Before that, the vaccination coverage was only at 20%. We will be happy sana na 50 [percent], but we don’t know if they can even reach 50% by the end of [President Duterte’s] term,” she said.

In May, the BARMM, through its Ministry of Health, held a region-wide special COVID-19 vaccination drive with an aim to meet its 70% target before June this year.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier identified some of the challenges in the vaccination rollout in the region, including vaccine hesitancy or preference, limited manpower, fake news, late submission of daily vaccination reports, and lukewarm support from local chief executives and barangay local government units.

Cabotaje noted further that 63% are now fully vaccinated in Soccsksargen, while the Bicol Region and Mimaropa both still have not reached the 70% target population as well.

She attributed the lapse to the recent typhoons and the phreatic eruption of the Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon that affected the said regions.

“We hope sana they can reach 70 [percent] kasi nasa almost 68 [percent] na sila (we hope they can reach 70% because they are now at 68%),” she added.

At least 70 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 14.8 million individuals have received their first booster dose.  (MNS)

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