ILOILO CITY – An initial 3,000 of the 5,000 active tourism workers in Boracay have been identified as willing to avail of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines following its rollout on the island on Wednesday.
A ceremonial vaccination was held on the island's beachfront participated in by 10 representatives of various tourism workers associations that were accredited by the local government unit (LGU) of Malay.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, National Task Force Against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer Secretary Vince Dizon, health officials in Western Visayas, and local officials of Aklan witnessed the ceremonial inoculation.
Aklan has received 3,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines for Boracay on July 3, 2021.
Puyat said the 3,000 recipients were identified by the LGU Malay and the private sector.
The list of vaccinees is composed of 2,178 workers in accommodation business establishments such as hotels and resorts, 308 in restaurants, 140 from the tourist transport and 374 who are tourism front-line personnel such as tour guides, boatmen electronic tricycle drivers, airports and seaport front-liners and aqua-water sports providers.
Puyat, during the press conference that followed at the Paradise Garden Resort Hotel and Convention Center Boracay, said that once the target 3,000 vaccinees will get inoculated, then the number of persons receiving the Covid-19 jab in the island will increase to 12 percent from the previous 4.5 percent.
The Aklan provincial government under Governor Florencio Miraflores early this year has requested 40,000 doses of vaccines from the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Boracay to help in the recovery of the tourism industry.
Puyat said that the target is to vaccinate all the 17,000 tourism workers who were listed during the pre-pandemic period while the rest are residents of the island.
“We want to be vaccinated. I don’t think I met any tourism worker who does not want to get vaccinated. We want to be vaccinated because we want to already restart tourism and we want to be protected,” she added.
Dizon said they expect to complete the vaccination of the 17,000 within the month as the Paradise Garden Resort Hotel and Convention Center Boracay and the City Mall can each accommodate 500 vaccinees a day.
As long as vaccine supplies are available, then they can complete the vaccination in 17 to 18 days, he added.
“We are committing to provide the island of Boracay through Mayor Froli (Malay Acting Mayor Frolibar S. Bautista) and Governor Joeben (Governor Miraflores) the vaccines and the doses that you need to slowly and surely open as up not just to the country but the entire world,” Dizon said.
Meanwhile, Miraflores said the vaccination rollout will be the start of the reopening of Boracay.
“This is a great day for everyone. It’s the same atmosphere that we had after we opened Boracay after the closure. And I am very confident that in the next few months once our tourism workers and our residents of the island will get to be vaccinated, we will return to the previous arrivals that we had previous to this pandemic,” the governor said.
“It’s time that we need to learn to live with Covid-19 and one way to do this is through vaccination,” Bautista said.
He also expressed the commitment of the LGU to extend assistance to inoculate their residents. (PNA)