By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — In response to the clamor of underprivileged families to be considered in the government’s priority list of its national vaccination program, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said that he wants to bring the Covid-19 inoculation drive closer to the poor.
In his late-night public address, the former Davao City mayor declared that they will be deploying ‘traveling units’ that would visit and administer Covid-19 vaccines to poor households around Metro Manila and outlying localities and later to other regions across the country.
“Ang order ko ngayon is for the team to give you the vaccine—traveling (vaccinators). At least with about five, six, or seven (members). Marami tayong sasakyan. We will use all government assets. Gagamitin natin ang lahat ng sasakyan ng gobyerno,” Duterte disclosed.
“So ang priority would really be the squatters, and we go to the squatters area. Walang pera. Hindi maiwanan ang anak, o isa lang ang hanapbuhay,” he added in reference to the target sector.
However, health secretary Francisco Duque III countered that such a plan brought to the fore by the President would be difficult to push through since the health department and other concerned agencies of government have limited manpower to monitor the vaccine’s side effects on recipients.
“Ang problema lang po na nakikita ko po ngayon kung daldalhin ang bakuna sa kanila. Kakailanganin po ng maraming magmo-monitor for adverse effects following immunization. Iyan po ang important steps final step in the vaccination process,” Duque told the chief executive.
The health chief reported that at present, the country has at least 4,500 fixed vaccination sites where vaccines are monitored for side effects.
Meanwhile, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has announced that around nine million senior citizens in the country are set to undergo Covid-19 vaccination soon with most of the frontline health workers already inoculated with the vaccine supplies coming from those donated by China and India, and the World Health Organization’s Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization COVAX facility.
According to Galvez, Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine Coronavac will also be used for senior citizens in the vaccination drive that will begin in April.
“Talagang Sinovac din po. Kasi ang nakikita po natin, ang Sinovac very limited po ang side effect at the same time nakita natin walang masyadong wastage ang Sinovac,” he explained.
Immunization of senior citizens is expected to be completed in May, after which, mass vaccination will proceed to the vulnerable groups which include the indigent population. The government aims to vaccinate at least one million Filipinos each week in April; two million per week in May and three to five million in June. (AI/MTVN)