Initiated in May, just months after vaccination rollouts began in the National Capital Region, SafetyVax is the outcome of a successful collaboration between LoveYourself and Mandaluyong City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU), supported by the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Incorporate (PFSI).
It’s the organization’s response in the call to “support our country’s efforts to curb the pandemic”, explains Ronnievinn Pagtakhan, LoveYourself, Inc executive director. He first announced the vaccination rollout project in his speech at the Philippine International AIDS Candlelight Memorial online concert. The pilot venue then is in an integrated school in Mandaluyong City.
The program eventually took on the name SafetyVax, catering not only to Mandaluyong residents but also LoveYourself’s network of clients, advocates, partners. Anyone who wishes to get vaccinated may click the link posted across social media pages to pre-register, after which a QR code will be generated. This pre-registration process not only helps with cutting the process time onsite, it also allows the organization to anticipate turnout and expected crowd for the day, plan the necessary manpower, and reduce challenges and conflicts in the vaccination process. If the use of social media and technology as an approach in simplifying the process seems familiar, it has likely stemmed from the years of bi-annually testing day events LoveYourself has held before the pandemic. Program Manager CJ Sintoy agrees: “SafetyVax has opened a new way to continue LoveYourself’s legacy in helping the community especially in the spirit of volunteerism. We all know that since the pandemic started all mass testing activities were suspended. Through SafetyVax, (the) volunteerism spirit lives on and volunteers get a chance to see each other in a new activity.” CJ also believed this project allowed LoveYourself widened its reach and made itself known to the rest of the members of the community who may not be the direct target population of its services. “SafetyVax helped not only our clients and partners, but also reached beyond the key population.”
To date, SafetyVax has inoculated over 30,000 clients. This is expected to spike as the country continues to receive an influx of batches of its vaccine orders. SafetyVax is truly a reliable alternative to the rollouts initiated by the local government units and the private sector. At the heart of its success, as is the way it has done its HIV advocacy, is the concept of tapping and mobilizing the community, and relying on volunteerism to provide its signature inaalagaan at inaasikaso approach to clients. According to Program Manager Finn Kadir, “This program is a breakthrough not only for the organization itself, but also for the community. This initiative shows our empowerment of what we can do as part of the community to help in addressing social issues, and that is I think is the most important part, to be aware that anyone can do something for everyone.”
Vinn and the program managers are thankful to the volunteers who have kept SafetyVax running. “I am grateful to all our partners especially the volunteers who made sure that this program will run smoothly”. CJ echoes this sentiment. “Volunteers have always been the life blood of Loveyourself and we’ll always be grateful for them. Without the volunteers, there will be no Loveyourself. We salute all the brave volunteers who lend their time and effort in coming to the vaccination site despite of the risk they know that they will be facing in the vaccination site.” Finn is equally grateful and hopeful that the success of SafetyVax is a huge deal in our movement as a nation to overcome the pandemic. “I look forward to the day that the country will be COVID-19–free, and we’ll be proud to say that our efforts helped to make it possible.”
LoveYourself and partner community pages are regularly updated with announcements of upcoming SafetyVax schedules, as rollout days depend on vaccine supply availability. Make sure to check these pages regularly to sign up and pre-register.