THERE’S a bit of good news for the poor Filipinos. President Rodrigo Duterte issued a directive to the national vaccination task force to ensure that the country’s supply of COVID-19 shots from US-based Pfizer-BioNTech through the vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility will go to indigents.
In a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the President is apparently referring to the 193,000 donated Pfizer jabs through the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility.
Apart from the 193,000 doses, Roque said that the order also covers the remaining 2.2 million more Pfizer COVID-19 shots to be delivered this May – also through the COVAX facility.
“Ipinag-utos din po ng Pangulo na ibigay ang Pfizer sa mga mahihirap or sa indigent population dahil ‘yan po ang patakaran ng COVAX,” Roque told reporters.
COVAX supplies vaccines to the poor and the top 3 priority groups, namely health workers, the elderly, and people with health risks. Essential workers, which form part of the cluster A4, are not part of the COVAX allocation, Roque clarified.
“Dagdag ni Presidente, ilagay ang Pfizer hindi sa mga mall, kundi sa vaccination sites ng mga barangay kung saan mababa ang takeup ng vaccines,” he said.
Vaccine “czar” Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the vaccination of the A4 and A5 groups might start in the last week of May or early June when the supply of jabs is expected to start pouring in.
“Ipagsasabay lang natin kasi ang naging consensus na talaga at ang naging utos na rin ng Presidente, talagang palawakin na natin iyong puwedeng bakunahan dahil marami talaga ang gustong mabakuna[han] at naiinip nga dahil hindi pa kanilang turn,” Roque added.
The Philippines has received about 8.279 million COVID-19 shots, of which at least 3,299,470 doses have been administered as of May 18.
“Asahan natin na tataas pa ito habang ang kumpiyansa sa bakuna ay tumataas din,” said Roque.