The Department of Health (DOH) together with the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Bohol conducted a Covid-19 vaccination program for Bohol Tourism Workers in September 2021 at the Holy Name University Gymnasium. In partnership with the different agencies: Department of Tourism, Tzu Chi Foundation–Bohol, Philippine National Police (PNP), and volunteers, the said program ended everyday with smooth procedures following safety measures.

This program helps to address those workers to get vaccinated and protected themselves from the threat of the virus while having their work in the tourism industry.

This operation has participated with the Philippine National Police volunteers, Tzu Chi local volunteers, scholars, caregiving students of Tzu Chi, staff, and the TIMA doctors – Doctor Oliver Yu, and Doctor Gerard Aga Rafael Doroy.

Prior to the scheduled vaccination, medical doctor and nurses from Department of Health conducted orientation and training to the Tzu Chi volunteers who are willing to render their services on the vaccination. They taught them how to get the correct blood pressure, read the pulse/heart-rate using the medical apparatus, and its consideration if the person could be able to get the vaccine on the scheduled date or not.

Dr. Yul Lopez, the Provincial Health Officer of Bohol, and at the same time, the vaccination program in-charge explains the purpose why conducting this program.

Vaccination is one of the best shields in protecting the covid. Aside from the basic protocols, the building up of the immune system, and in the absence of a definite treatment, what we can do for now is to strengthen our immune system and let our anti-bodies fight the virus,” Dr. Lopez said.

According to him, vaccination can stimulate our body to form antibodies specifically against the covid. If ever in the future one can meet the real virus, there are already antibodies to fight and preventing ourselves from severe cases.

“We mean this program because it is the vision of the governor to help the tourism workers. Tourism industry is one of the economic drivers of Bohol so many people are relying upon tourism.” He added.

Based on survey, the average sixty-six percent of active cases are coming from the unvaccinated population. It gives credence to the people that the vaccination can give protection. According to figures, out of 355, 89% are unvaccinated, the rest are partially vaccinated, and only 1% is fully vaccinated. Eighty-nine percent of the covid deaths in Bohol comes from the people who are not vaccinated. Majority of the people that being admitted in the hospitals are actually non vaccinated people.

“Right now, we are familiar that the main industry in Bohol is Tourism. Majority of the income that actually Bohol has come from tourism. It is our prerogative to revive that industry because the agriculture industry alone could not sustain us in Bohol,” said            Dr. Emerson Mateo, medical doctor of Gallares Hospital, and a Team leader for Mobile Vaccination Team for PHO. He is a retired physician from the states and came back to Bohol because of pandemic.

“The inter-agency approach is really important for us. In this time of pandemic, it is really important that all people should unite as one in order to end problems and suffering. We, the doctors or in the health care industry cannot do this alone, so we need assistance and help from people,” said Doctor Mateo.

During the operation, Tzu Chi volunteers and scholars assisted in the pre-medical screening process getting their body temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, pulse/heart rate using the medical apparatus, and did the record. Some were also assigned as a “documentor” in the vaccination area getting their ID’s and write/made updates on their vaccination card on what vaccine they have received. Some also helped in the post-monitoring step. The tasks were made easier because of the guidance of the medical doctor and nurses along the way.

Brother Joven Uy also helps in the pre-screening process.

Dr. Gerard Aga Rafael Doroy, an ENT surgeon, and a volunteer physician of Tzu Chi Foundation also present in the vaccination program.

“In any vaccination site, there should be at least one doctor to assess in the operation, to know who will be eligible in getting the vaccine or not, and if there will be possible complications after vaccination, we can easily get the immediate action and management,” said Doctor Doroy.

“In all the vaccination campaign, we should give the vaccine as much as possible to people to achieve the HERD immunity.” He added.

One of the clients is Roosevelt Segara, he’s from Cebu but works in Bohol as a rigger for the Tagbilaran-Dauis bridge project.

“I am so happy that I am now fully vaccinated. I took the vaccine because it helps me more protected from the threat of the virus and also many establishments will soon require this to enter their place,” Segara said gladly.

“I encourage everyone to get the vaccine as soon as possible for it can help us protect ourselves.” He added.

Dr. Maria Melody L. Eamilao, a volunteer dentist of Tzu Chi Foundation also took his second dose of covid-19 vaccine. She works at the DOH since 2016 as dentist deployment’s project.

“I have trust that this problem will be resolved and end soon. I know this vaccine could help us boost our natural immune system and protects ourselves from severe infection,” said Dr. Eamilao.

“Let us take what the government wants us to do, they know what is the best for us. Let us fight together to stop spreading the virus, protect ourselves, our family and the community. I am also asking you to get the vaccine as soon as possible to stop this pandemic nightmare.” She added.

The operation would not be successful without the help of the vaccinators. They need to have adequate knowledge and skills in order to ensure safe and efficient in jabbing the COVID-19 vaccine.

One of the vaccinators is Al John Calamba, a registered nurse, and works at the Provincial Health Office for four years.

“I’ve been working as nurse vaccinator for almost 6 months. Of course, I feel scared while having this job since we are very exposed to the virus and we don’t know whom of the client have it,” said Al John Calamba.

He, then also gets tired and exhausted since there were times, they still render services until late night and have to report on duty early morning the next day.

“But I am still grateful and blessed of my work because through this many Boholanos got their vaccine and normalized economy is our goal. That makes me happy and relieved.” He spoke.

Police Corporal Bryan Villascena from Tagbilaran City Police Station, a registered nurse, and also a volunteer-vaccinator of the program.  He is very happy to serve his fellowmen and hoping more people will encourage to get vaccinated.

“Before we entered to this career, we are a registered nurses, all of us who deployed here. We are very happy to serve to our fellowmen. It feels good to render services to everyone especially during today’s pandemic crisis,” said PCpl. Villascena.

Bong Regner, Development Management Officer (DMO) of the Department of Health is very glad for the help of Tzu Chi Foundation for the operation.

“I am very much glad that Tzu Chi is with us helping the counseling, the assessment, and bringing their own resources of medical apparatus. The most important thing is the water, biscuits, and the coffee, not just for the staff but particularly for our vaccinees,” said Regner.

Christopher “Boyet” Boncales, Team Leader – Tourism Services of Bohol Tourism Office is also thankful for the participation and support of Tzu Chi Foundation.

“I Would like to say thank you to Tzu Chi Foundation for their active participation for the vaccination rollout,” said Boyet.

It was quite hard for them since they lacked of manpower or volunteers during their first rollout. Most of their colleagues were infected and it was really hard for them to manage the operation.

“Here comes Tzu Chi volunteers that for us we see improvements and the smoothness of the process. Tzu Chi did not limit their manpower and we are so happy with their service since they also provide us food, water, coffee, biscuits for those clients who come early.” He added.

“We are very much happy that Tzu Chi Foundation partnered us specifically sir Joven for extending a hand to actually help us. In this vaccination effort, it’s not just us from the DOH or Gallares, it’s always going to be everybody in the healthcare field and then we’re happy to have anybody, any NGO’s that are ready to help us. We want to show to all people that together we can make it basically,” said Dr. Emerson Mateo.

With the help of the Tzu Chi volunteers, the vaccination program ran smoothly and many people got vaccinated in a day. This was a big help to lessen the burdens of the medical staff in having the operation.

As of September 20, 2021, a total of 2,887 vaccinees were able to receive their covid 19 vaccine.

Tzu Chi Foundation – Bohol is still willing to render services for the next schedules of vaccination and hoping that more and more people will be inspired and motivated to get vaccinated while the pandemic is still far from over.