THE country’s vaccine czar seemed to have realized that the government is racing against time and as such urged President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the vaccination of essential workers as well as indigents to commence before the end of the month if only to speed up the rollout and prevent dosages from losing potency.
In a pre-recorded public briefing, Galvez also asked the President to tap millions of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility to the essential workers and the indigents – a suggestion that promptly earned Duterte’s approval.
“Ito po ang gusto namin i-suggest sa inyo dahil marami sa business sector at saka po sa COVAX na dapat buksan na natin ang A4 at A5. Dapat ang bakuna unahin ang mahihirap,” said Galvez, adding that the COVAX Facility is meant to ensure that the poor has equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Considering na gusto naatin mapabilis talaga ang rollout, kumbaga lalakihan natin ang embudo. Sa Senate ganoon din ang recommendation nilang mag-open na ang A4 at A5 para mawala ang agam-agam na ang AstraZeneca ay mag-eexpire,” he added.
Citing National Economic Development Authority’s data, Galvez said there are 12.8 million Filipino workers under the A4 category and 16 million indigent Filipinos under the A5 category.
“Kung makita natin ang recommendation ng business sector, karamihan ng Gabinete at sa Senate e, ibukas na po natin as soon as possible time. Puwede na tayo mag-start sa mahihirap para ang mga bakuna sa COVAX ay mabigyan ang mahihirap,” he said.
Responding to Galvez’s presentation, Duterte said the inoculation of the vulnerable sector was one of his early proposals.
“As a matter of fact your program is suit to my request early on sa pag-umpisa na ito unahin, ang mahihirap. If there is a difficulty in getting them out of their respective communities kayo na ang papasok doon,” Duterte said.
“This is really for the poor, because if they get sick, they do not have the money. Let us be real about it,” the Malacañang chief executive added.
Duterte also ordered Galvez to boost the national government’s information drive by embarking on the benefits and safety of the COVID-19 jabs.
There should be no special requests in choosing the COVID-19 brands, the President added.
“It leaves bad taste in the mouth… Karamihan ‘yung meron naghihintay ng US—Moderna, Pfizer. Ang sabi ko ‘di mangyari ‘yan… Kung ano nasa harap ninyo kesyo milyonaryo ka o mahirap ka, ‘yun ang iyo, ‘di ka mamili,” he said.
Duterte told Galvez to make the distribution “with blind eye on the brand.”
“‘Wag niyo na silipin kung Moderna, Pfizer, or AstraZeneca because I won’t allow it. Mahirap ka man o mayaman kung gusto mo pumunta ka sa vaccination sites. If you are there in the community, go there and have yourself vaccinated with any of the vaccines available. They are all potent, they are all effective. So there is no reason to be choosy about it,” Duterte added.
Since the vaccine rollout started on March 1, the government has only been able to inoculate around three million Filipinos.