GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government has started negotiations with possible suppliers of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines in preparation for the rollout of its own vaccination program.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said Tuesday the talks are being facilitated by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), which has taken the lead in assisting cities in the acquisition of the vaccines.
He said the local government is currently studying several Covid-19 vaccine brands, especially in terms of availability, effectiveness and the logistical aspect.
“We are still in the preparation stage. Based on our initial discussions with some manufacturers, they are looking at the second quarter (of the year) for the vaccines to become available,” he said in an interview over local television show “Morning Hataw.”
The mayor said among the main considerations in the vaccine selection process is the cold storage requirement, especially for the Pfizer shot that is reportedly set at -70 degrees Celsius and might be difficult for the city to comply.
He said LCP has considered the potentials of the AstraZeneca vaccine as its storage requirement is only 8 degrees Celsius as well as Sinovac, which reportedly appears easier to handle and transport.
Rivera, the national vice chairman of the LCP, said they will have another virtual general assembly on Tuesday afternoon to further discuss the vaccine acquisition initiatives.
The city government, as approved by the City Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) for the Management of Emerging and Re-merging Infectious Diseases, has allotted an initial PHP200 million for the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccines and the implementation of its vaccination program.
The mayor said the funds would be drawn from the city’s Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund and standby trust fund.
Once the local government is ready to make the purchase, he said his office will seek authority from the city council to sign a tripartite agreement with the Department of Health and the vaccine manufacturer.
Rivera said the CIATF, through the City Health Office, has already completed the vaccination plan for Covid-19 and its rollout.
He said they activated three committees to spearhead the procurement process, operations and logistics.
For the vaccine rollout, he said the local government will prioritize the front-line workers, especially the health and security personnel, and will be followed by the senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable sectors.
“We will make sure that the vaccines that we will purchase are effective and will not pose any health and other related problems,” he said. (PNA)