Benguet mining town with clustered cases rolls out vax program

Philippine News AgencyMarch 10, 2021

VACCINATION. Lepanto Hospital Medical Director Dr. Zerubabel Patena receives the CoronaVac vaccine during the rollout in Mankayan town Monday (March 8, 2021). Mankayan experienced a surge of cases in November and December affecting miners and their families. (Photo courtesy of LCMC)

BAGUIO CITY – The town of Mankayan in Benguet, one of the areas in the region that recorded clustering of coronavirus cases last year, has started its vaccination program.

A total of 22 employees of the Lepanto Hospital in Paco, Mankayan have so far been inoculated with CoronaVac vaccines as of Tuesday.

The hospital, operated by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC), was among the busiest health facilities in the province due to the surge of Covid-19 cases at the mining community from November to December last year.

The hospital's medical director, Dr. Zerubabel Patena was the first to receive the jab.

In an interview, Mayor Frenzel Ayong said the vaccinees included medical front-liners and other hospital staff.

Two nurses rendering duty were disqualified from receiving the vaccine because one is breastfeeding and the other is pregnant.

Six other hospital workers who have given consent to be vaccinated but are on leave will receive the vaccines. The hospital has a total of 40 employees.

Last November, Mankayan experienced a clustering and surge in cases when it logged a total of 97 new cases for that month alone.

The peak was in December when it recorded 438 cases, then gradually went down to 153 in January; 76 in February, and 30 cases from March 1 to 8. On Tuesday, the town logged zero cases.

The clustering of cases was registered mostly at the mining camp involving miners and their families.

Ayong expressed confidence that his townmates would willingly receive the vaccine.

"We trust the health authorities' advice that vaccination is for the common good and we relay that information to our constituents. We hope that a good majority of our constituents will avail of free vaccination when it is available," Ayong said.

The town continues to hold information campaign on the vaccination program.

"Ultimately, it will be up to our townfolk to decide to be vaccinated or not, hindi naman siya (it is not) mandatory but everyone is encouraged to receive it," Ayong said.

Butch Mendizabal, public information officer of LCMC said the company's Covid-19 protocols remain in place particularly for visitors entering the mining camp.

"Parallel sa LGU guidelines, they need to report first to the rural health unit for medical evaluation prior to entering the camp," Mendizabal said. (PNA)

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