TACLOBAN CITY – Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez said the city government will be purchasing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines good for 30 to 40 percent of the city’s population of 240,000.
He said the city government was already prepared with the list of those who would be priority recipients of the vaccines with healthcare workers on top, followed by about 18,000 senior citizens, and those deemed highly vulnerable.
The mayor said, there will be no need for pre-registration. “Our City Health Department already has the priority list ready and everybody on it will be inoculated unless they refuse,” he said.
Gomez, however, said that because of insufficient funds, not everybody will be inoculated for free by the city government, but will have to wait their turn on the next possible purchase to be made.
Ormoc has an approved annual budget of P 1.6-billion for 2021. To buy the vaccines for the targeted 96,000 residents, the city government has to earmark P200-million at an estimated cost of P 2,000 per shot.
Gomez said that, just like last year, when a bulk of Ormoc’s budget was spent on COVID-19 prevention measures, to include the two rounds of one-sack per household distribution program to tide Ormocanons during the hard lockdown phase, the purchase of the vaccines will be this year’s priority.
Gomez expressed confidence that, as more pharmaceuticals race to have their vaccines be granted emergency approval, the prices could go down.
He has also created the Ormoc City COVID-19 Task Force or ORCOVAC with an executive order last December 29, to help monitor and intensify efforts of the vaccination program, and tap private sources to help Ormoc achieve a 100-percent vaccination rate.
Composing the task force is the mayor as chairman; Vice Mayor Leo Carmelo Locsin Jr. as vice chairman; Councilors Eusebio Gerardo Penserga, Peter Rodriguez, and Vincent Rama as members; and city health doctor Edmund Kierulf, city administrator Vincent Emnas, city legal officer Joy Mejia Romero, city budget officer Sabrina Duero, city treasurer Delia Vilbar, city accountant Rosario Serafica, city social welfare, and development officer Delia Corbo, city planning and development officer Raoul Cam, and infectious disease specialist Dr. Larsen Omolon, also as members.
In keeping with his participative approach to governance, Gomez has also included Ormoc Chamber president Stephanie Diane Chu and the chief of private hospitals namely Dr. Gardenia Larrazabal of Ormoc Doctors’ Hospital, Dr. Jaime Gatchalian Jr. of Clinica Gatchalian and Hospital, and, Dr. Sandra Fiel-Chiong of OSPA-Farmers’ Medical Center as members.