By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — As the Senate resumed deliberation on the national government’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program on Friday, Senator Richard J. Gordon proposed to train more Filipinos to administer vaccines as the Philippines looks to start rolling out its immunization plan in February.
In a statement, Gordon said he will file a bill on Monday aimed to train other medical health professionals including dentist, veterinarians, and medical technologist to be trained as vaccinators.
“I will file a bill on Monday that during times of emergency or even there is no crisis, dapat mag-train ng vaccinators gaya ng mga dentista, veterinarians, medical technologists, at kahit iyong walang medical background. We can put to bear millions of our young people who may want to become doctors someday and can practice with bakuna, provided it’s under clinical supervision,” he said.
During the hearing, Gordon questioned the Department of Health’s (DOH) capability to conduct the vaccination program with only 617,239 health care workers to participate in the campaign based on the department’s data.
Of the 617,239, 73,836 are from private health institutions, 64,998 from public health facilities, 29,000 are DOH-employed, 30,629 are hired by the local government units (LGU), 194,269 are contact tracers, 207,320 are barangay health workers, while 17,034 are social workers.
“Nagdududa ako dito sa 617,239 to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos although, of course, hindi naman sabay-sabay ‘yan. Habang dumarating ang vaccine, paunti-unti, nagbabakuna tayo. Alam naman natin, mababa ang vaccination natin,” Gordon said emphasizing the low performance rate of the country’s National Immunization Program.
“Ang actual performance natin in 2016 ay 70%, 67% in 2017, 66% in 2018, 69% in 2019. So, hindi pa tayo masyadong bihasa sa pagbabakuna,” he added.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III agreed on Gordon’s proposal, which aims to help the government step up its immunization program, not only for COVID-19, but for other diseases, as well.
Philippine vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that the government aims to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of Filipinos in three to five years.
About 82.5 billion pesos was allocated by the government for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines this year, of which, 70 billion pesos will be sourced from foreign loans. (AI/MTVN)