Go praises pharmacists for their share in fast-tracking vaccine drive; proposes incentives for them

Go praises pharmacists for their share in fast-tracking vaccine drive; proposes incentives for them

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged authorities to look into the possibility of giving an incentive to all pharmacists who are helping to support the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

In President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People address on January 24, Go recognized the impact that volunteer vaccinators have in their communities. He highlighted the need for incentives to encourage greater volunteering as the government seeks to expand its ‘Resbakuna sa Botika’ program nationwide.

“Suggestion lang po, since binibilisan na natin ‘yung ating vaccination, especially dito sa ating bakunahan sa botika. Suggestion lang po as Committee Chair, baka pwede rin pong mabigyan ng incentives itong mga pharmacists natin na (nagwo-)work double time,” said Go, who heads the Senate Committee on Health.

“Para maengganyo pa ‘yung lahat ng mga may-ari ng even private na pharmacies natin sa pinakamalalayong lugar dito sa Pilipinas … (at) mas mapabilis ang ating pagpbabakuna,” he added.

Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 Response Secretary Vivencio “Vince” Dizon assured the lawmaker that the proposal would be discussed by the National Task Force Against COVID-19, in coordination with the Department of Health and National Vaccination Operations Center.

The Resbakuna sa Botika is a joint government and private sector initiative that aims to expand the country’s immunization program and address the shortage in vaccinators. The pilot implementation was conducted in select pharmacies and clinics in Metro Manila on January 20 and 21 and is set to be expanded to other parts of the country.

The official list of participating major pharmacies and clinic networks are The Generics Pharmacy, Generika Drugstore, Healthway Clinic, Mercury Drug, Southstar Drug, Watsons and QualiMed.

“Iyung nakita po namin nitong nakaraang linggo, ‘yung mga tao po nakita rin nila ‘yung botika na may bakunahan doon, aba eh pumupunta lang sila. They were just walking and they were saying, ‘Uy, ako papabakuna na ako’ kasi katabing-katabi lang nila ‘yung mga botika natin,” said Dizon.

“I think very good gesture at pag-aaralan talaga namin, Senator, nang mabuti (ang proposal) para matulungan naman natin kahit kaunti ang ating mga pharmacists,” he reassured.

The government aims to vaccinate 77 million Filipinos and complete the 12 to 17 age group before the end of the first quarter of 2022. It also targets to fully vaccinate 90 million Filipinos and finish the booster shots of 72.16 million individuals by the second and third quarter, respectively.

To do so, the government is looking to pursue specific collaboration arrangements with the private sector to increase public demand for both primary and booster shots. It also hopes to recruit as many vaccinators as necessary to ensure the deployment of sufficient doses nationwide.

As of January 24, the government has obtained a total of 215.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, 123.9 million of which have been administered. Nearly 57.5 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated while about 59.9 million have obtained their first dose. Another 6.5 million individuals have received their booster shots.

“Sa ating mga kababayan, lagi natin alalahanin na hindi kaya ng gobyernong mag-isa ang laban kontra pandemya. Hindi rin kakayanin ng mga frontliners kung patuloy na dadami ang kailangang dalhin sa mga ospital. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 starts with us by being responsible citizens and getting vaccinated,” said Go.

“Kaya let us remain vigilant at sumunod sa mga patakaran. Magtulungan tayo para hindi bumagsak ang ating healthcare system habang binabalanse natin na pasiglahin muli ang ating ekonomiya.”

In the end, the lawmaker once again lauded the country’s healthcare workers and volunteers who continue to lead the fight against the pandemic. He also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for recently approving the release of P1.185 billion for the COVID-19 Special Risk Allowance of eligible private HCWs and non-Department of Health plantilla personnel who are catering to or are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients.

“Let us ensure that our heroic healthcare workers are being taken care of and well-compensated for they provide a crucial role in our fight against this pandemic,” said Go.

The senator is a co-author and co-sponsor of a measure that became Republic Act No. 11525, also known as the COVID-19 Vaccination Law. The Act, signed on July 27, 2020, authorizes the national government and LGUs to undertake the negotiated procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. (ai/mtvn)

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