DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that "super" health centers were funded and are being put up to prevent a rise in hospital occupancy.

"These super health centers have equipment that can be found in hospitals so that we can unload hospitals. We have started these super health centers where basic tests that are often needed to be conducted in hospitals can be done here, without the need for people to go to higher level facilities," she explained in a media briefing on Monday.

She said that bed occupancy for non-Covid wards was at 71 percent, while bed occupancy for non-Covid intensive care units was at 58 percent.

With this, Vergeire urged the public to utilize village health stations and rural health units for primary care cases, instead of going straight to hospitals as walk-in patients.

"Our rural health units or health centers are very much equipped to see our countrymen for their primary care conditions and provide them with appropriate management and diagnostics. All of this is covered by the PhilHealth Konsulta Package where people's primary illnesses are addressed at this level. Hopefully, our countrymen will go to our health centers first before going to the hospital," she emphasized.

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The public was also reminded to get vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19 to increase nationwide coverage and prevent severe infection, especially as schools have reopened for in-person learning.

The DoH official said that Covid-19 booster doses being offered to the public were potent and viable and are within their shelf-life. The DoH has coordinated with the vaccine manufacturers to conduct stability studies to extend the vaccines' shelf-life with appropriate documentation, as information on expiration dates on some vials were not replaced accordingly.

Moreover, the Health department will simultaneously implement its special week of vaccination from Sept. 26 to 30, 2022, to increase the country's Covid-19 vaccine coverage.

"As early as now, we are mobilizing our regional offices and LGUs (local government units) to help us out on this, and we have also had coordination with our medical societies for them to give us more support by also holding launches of this vaccination among their regional societies. We also had a talk with other stakeholders and national government agencies for us to have a one-government and one-nation approach in the conduct of the special week of vaccination," Vergeire said.

She noted that with intensive efforts during the vaccination campaign, at least 5 million to 21 million can be vaccinated to increase coverage and achieve the target by October 8, especially as DoH aims to reach areas with low Covid-19 vaccine coverage.

"Overall, we have almost 24 percent of the population who have received their first booster shots. We need at least 50 percent hopefully by October 8. The special week of vaccination will give us that push to increase what we are achieving for the first booster shot among our population," Vergeire said.