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MAASIN CITY (PIA) -- The much anticipated “power” of the community to resist the COVID-19 disease, a situation now widely known as herd immunity, depends largely to the availability of vaccines.

The statement sounded familiar, for this has been the cry of various local chief executives, who strive to cover the majority of their constituents, being the only way for things to go back to normal, the old normal.

This time a ranking staff from the Department of Health (DOH) - Regional Office 8 issued the fearless forecast, with statistics to prove it is achievable.

“To attain herd immunity in the region is dependent on the availability of vaccines,” Ma. Teresa Caidic, DOH-8 vaccination rollout point person, declared during the Panidugan virtual press conference Friday hosted by Gemma Tabao, Leyte PIA infocen manager.

Asked how soon that could be, Caidic said this will be by December, without qualifying if it would be this year or next.

She said that once the region could sustain its record on vaccinating over 10,000 people in a day -- and this happened on May 18 -- the target of more than 821,000 individuals for A1 to A3 category all over the region can easily be reached, granting there is enough vaccines.

As of July 8, 2021, there were already 219,880 individuals belonging to the category A1 to A3 that were vaccinated, Caidic said.

A1 is for medical frontliners, A2 for senior citizens, and A3 for persons with co-morbidities, based on DOH’s list of categories.

Along the way, though, in reaching herd immunity, Caidic admitted some challenges. Foremost of which was the reluctance of senior citizens to get inoculated, saying, to give more emphasis, that senior citizens have a higher chance of being infected with the virus and experience major symptoms.

As to fear of ill-effects, Caidic was candid enough to report that as of June 30, Region 8 received a total of 1,552 reports on COVID-19 adverse effects, mostly coming from 29-30 years old, females, the common ailment was fever which was resolved within three days.

But she cleared that it is normal to experience side effects as it means that your body is reacting to the vaccine. (LDL/MMP/PIA-8/Southern Leyte