A program to plan, communicate and implement a national vaccination scheme should be implemented to guarantee equitable access and systematic provision once safe and effective vaccines are made available, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said.
Go reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to prioritize the poor and the vulnerable once the vaccine is available, saying “we should not leave behind the poor. Access to the vaccine should be universal and its availability should not only be for those who have the means.”
No one must be left behind.
Aside from ensuring enough funds to procure vaccines, Go also called on government to fully implement a nationwide information and education campaign regarding the vaccination plan.
Echoing the statements of the World Health Organization, Go emphasized that on top of having safe and efficient vaccines made available, an integral part towards recovery is for a country to have a comprehensive and equitable National Vaccine Program to save lives and protect more people in a systematic and properly planned manner.
As the chairperson of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, Go had urged the government through the Department of Health (DoH)to plan ahead for the systematic provision of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially with the possibility of a limited supply.
“All of humanity needed the vaccine so there is a possibility of a limited supply. We need to prepare and plan the procurement, storage, distribution, use and assessment of the medication,” he said.
Immunization plan needed
Go emphasized that while all countries have been caught by surprise by the worldwide spread and adverse impact of the pandemic, health experts and government authorities have enough time to properly plan and implement a national vaccination program.
Recently, Moderna and Pfizer reported that their vaccines in development have good efficacy against COVID-19. For Moderna, the biopharmaceutical company reported 95 percent protection against the virus while Pfizer reported preliminary data of 90 percent protection and 94 percent for adults over 65 years old.
On 18 November, during the period of interpellations in the Senate on the proposed 2021 budget of the DoH, Go said that funds had been allotted for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines with proposed augmentation to increase it further.
Go discussed several options for procuring the vaccines. One way is by direct procurement following Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The government may also avail of multilateral loans with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
The Senator also said that bilateral loans are also being proposed by Department of Finance. Finally, the private sector may finance the procurement through a tripartite agreement between the national government, pharmaceutical company, private sector company — with no cost to the government.
All of humanity needed the vaccine so there is a possibility of a limited supply.
The Senator also expressed support for vaccine czar and National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. who will lead the distribution program for the vaccine.
Go asked the public to continue complying with the government-issued health and safety protocols by wearing masks and face shields, observing social distancing, and frequently washing their hands, among others, to prevent the spread of the virus.