Some 600 individuals from at-risk populations such as the homeless and survivors of gender-based violence and sexual exploitation returned to the UP Diliman (UPD) College of Human Kinetics (CHK) vaccination site on Oct. 22 and 23 for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The individuals were the beneficiaries of a collaboration between the UPD COVID-19 Task Force (UPDTF), the Quezon City local government, and a consortium composed of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Health (DOH), the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATWAP), Kariton Coalition, the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Foundation, Samaritana Transformation Ministries, and the Commission on Human Rights.
The consortium gave them transportation from centers in the City of Manila and Quezon City to the vaccination site, where they were administered with Sinovac doses that DOH provided. Before exiting the CHK gymnasium, the beneficiaries were provided with food and grocery packs to cover their needs for the day.
Prof. Maria Dulce F. Natividad, Ph.D., of the UPDTF said the University was approached by the consortium after an April 2021 roundtable discussion on vaccines and gender equity.
“They’re in plain sight, pero hindi naman talaga natutugunan yung kanilang mga pangangailangan. Sa karaniwang pagbabakuna, halimbawa, kakailanganin ng mga ID. Itong mga populasyon na ito wala silang ID so kailangan makipag-usap sa pamahalaan na luwagan yung requirement na ’yun,” she said.
Natividad also noted some of the challenges they faced while handling and processing the beneficiaries.
“Marami sa kanila ay hindi naman nagpapatingin ng kanilang kalusugan. So pagdating nila dito may mga symptoms sila. Usually kapag may symptoms ’yan, we turn away people kasi hindi natin sigurado kung ito ay COVID-19. Pero sa pagkakataong ito, kailangan naming gumawa ng ilang paraan para ma-accommodate sila kasi mas importante na mabakunahan sila ngayon na kasi baka hindi sila makabalik sa susunod,” she said.
To adjust to the beneficiaries’ special needs, the UPDTF dedicated a separate queue to them and provided the staff with additional personal protective equipment, among others.
CATWAP executive director Jean Enriquez expressed their thanks for UPD and the Quezon City local government’s help.
“Napakalaking tulong ng UP Task Force kasi very flexible sila. Iyong pagkilala nila sa reality na walang mga ID ang homeless at gayundin ang fact na nababawasan iyong number, nag-iiba so hindi according to schedule. That flexibility is very activist in character and is very much appreciated,” she said.
Natividad said the UPTF agreed to the partnership in pursuit of its mandate to serve the people.
“Mayroong papel ang Unibersidad sa ganitong inisyatiba ng mga komunidad. Malakas ang ating public service mandate sa UP. Iyon ang ating gustong maging kontribusyon. Nilalayon din nitong activity na ito na sana maging model na i-take up ito ng mga local government units at magawa rin nila sa kani-kanilang mga lugar,” she said.