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COVID-19 WATCH

Juico preaches patience in vaccination drive

Bea Micaller

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The Philippine Superliga (PSL) will be very patient as it waits for its batch of vaccine that would be used in inoculating its athletes, coaches, officials and other stakeholders heading into the PSL All-Filipino Conference next month.

PSL president Philip Ella Juico on Thursday said they have already placed their order of 1,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine as early as January in partnership with the Go Negosyo program headed by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.

Unfortunately for them, the first batch of around 480,000 doses that arrived Thursday night from Belgium is allotted to the national government, which it would use to inoculate medical frontliners like doctors, nurses and other key personnel, soldiers and policemen.

Juico said they would exert a lot of patience as they wait for their order from the British-Swede pharmaceutical company.

“We’re already lined up for that set of vaccines as we placed our order together with Go Negosyo as early as January,” Juico said in a telephone conversation.

“But the batch that would be arriving tonight (Thursday night) is allotted for the government and not the private sector. We’re still checking with them when the batch of doses for the private sector will arrive.”

After a year of pandemic, the government had finally rolled out its inoculation program following with the arrival of vaccine from China-based drugmaker Sinovac Biotech over the weekend.

Around 600,000 doses arrived, but sports commissioner Ramon Fernandez, asserted that they would not jump the line ahead of medical frontliners and other key personnel despite the country’s looming participation in the Tokyo Olympics in July and the 31st Southeast Asian Games in November.

Juico said if ever their order arrives, they would be the first sports organization to inoculate their athletes, paving the way for the smooth and safe restart of their conference.

“Well, if ever, we will be the first batch of athletes to be vaccinated. It’s going to be good for us and our athletes as well,” said Juico, a former cabinet secretary and chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission.

“We ordered 1,000 doses of vaccine and we’re going to donate half of that to the Department of Health. It means that we will have 500 doses that will be good to inoculate 250 athletes, coaches and league personnel.”

Juico, however, clarified that their vaccination drive still depends on the preference of their athletes.

“It still depends on the athletes if they want to undergo vaccination. We cannot make it as a condition for playing,” Juico said, adding that the safety and welfare of the athletes are their primary concern.

“Of course, it is meant to protect the athletes. At least if they’re vaccinated, it will no longer require hospitalization in case they get infected.”

“But first, we have to prioritize our frontliners and other sectors that are vulnerable to the virus. We can wait.”

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