One hundred fifty nine (159) employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas availed of the free COVID-19 booster shots (for 1st and 2nd doses) directly from the team of the Department of Health (DOH) in August 24, 2022 during the PinasLakas Ceremonial Vaccination drive.

“This is an assurance that we have easy access to beneficial health services for our regional employees and other agencies. Thank you, DOH for bringing your services closer to us all here,” said Livino B. Duran, regional executive director of DENR 6.

Duran also expressed gratitude to DOH for making DENR 6 a pilot site for its Philippine Package of Essential Non-Communicable Disease Intervention (PhilPEN) Risk Assessment. The PhilPEN was also availed for free by the regional employees and were given guidance on necessary lifestyle changes or the need to consult a physician and medication for those assessed at high risk of developing hypertension and diabetes.

Meanwhile, Duran disclosed that DENR 6 under his lead is intent on continuing the advocacy of protecting the employees. “Importante po na malakas ang ating mga puso, isip at katawan dahil pag mapanatili ang kalusugan, tuloy po ang trabaho natin para sa bayani, he added in Tagalog.

DOH Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire is also thankful for the warm accommodation given to her and her team by the DENR officials and employees. She explained in her brief message that PinasLakas Vaccination Drive is a directive from the President of the Philippines since he wanted Filipinos to stay healthy. “If we wanted lesser restrictions, even stop wearing masks in the near future, we need to vaccinate our people,” she said.

Vergeire relayed to the audience how health experts are one in saying that if booster uptake is not achieved in the country, there is a risk of increased hospitalizations by October this year. Furthermore, there is the possibility of variant mutations that could again overwhelm our healthcare system.

Ito pong kampanyang ito – ang PinasLakas ang magbibigay sa atin ng “push” para abutin natin  at mabigyan ng bakuna ang lahat ng nangangailangan na Pilipino. Ayaw na nating bumalik sa dati, ngayon bibigyan po tayo ng pagkakataon, tayong lahat para di na tayo magkaroon ng malubhang sakit,” Vergeire said.

The DOH Secretary also said the Marcos administration targets to provide the booster to around 23 million Filipinos by October 8.

Secretary Vergeire personally thank DENR 6 Administrative Division Chief Ernest C. Federiso, also the COVID-19 Focal Person of the Department for leading and putting in place the health protocols. This is aside from facilitating funds for employees to avail of flu and pneumonia vaccinations and supplement provisions for all regular employees.