Getting vaccines to remote communities in the Philippines

Blue and pink jeepney on street with 'USAID' and COVID-19 message painted on side (USAID/Rosana Ombao)
World War II–era jeepneys transport Filipinos in remote locations to mobile vaccination clinics. (USAID/Rosana Ombao)

In the Philippines, long, brightly colored World War II–era jeeps, locally known as jeepneys, are a primary form of public transportation, shuttling Filipinos across cities and in between remote villages. Now, thanks to USAID, they also serve COVID-19 vaccination clinics, delivering hope to far-flung communities.

Across the Philippines, USAID has deployed 11 mobile vaccination teams to help more Filipinos get vaccinated, no matter how remote they are.

For many of the elderly or people with disabilities, just getting to official vaccination centers can be a significant challenge. Traveling just a few kilometers can take two or more hours in some crowded areas, such as Quezon City.

USAID hired and trained local health care workers to staff the mobile vaccination clinics, provided jeepneys for transportation, supplied personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, printed vaccine communication materials and offered logistics support. In partnership with local governments, these mobile vaccination clinics distribute about 15,000 vaccine doses monthly.

Abegail Dayo and William Maiquez posing while seated, with jeepney in background (USAID/Christina Butler)
Health care workers Abegail Dayo and William Maiquez pose for a photograph in front of a jeepney. (USAID/Christina Butler)

“The mobile vaccination program has a huge impact because it makes vaccines more accessible to people,” said Abegail Dayo, a health care worker serving as a screener for USAID’s mobile vaccination program in Quezon City. “It is amazing to see the progress that we have made toward fighting COVID-19 because of these vaccinations.”

In addition to these mobile vaccination clinics, USAID has also deployed six COVID-19 mobile testing units in Quezon City, which contribute an additional 6,000 tests on top of the local government’s 20,000 monthly testing coverage.

This lasting partnership among the local government, USAID and on-the-ground volunteers in the fight against COVID-19 gives hope to Dayo and other front-line health care workers.

“We have the solidarity to fight and beat COVID-19,” said Dayo. “In the Philippines, it is called bayanihan, or working together, to eradicate this pandemic.”

In partnership with the Quezon City government, Dayo and her partner helped vaccinate about 1,100 individuals in just one day.

A version of this story appeared on Exposure.