Only the best vaccines for our health frontliners –Recto

Published January 19, 2021, 8:38 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Health frontliners should be given the “best” and most effective COVID-19 vaccines to kickstart and boost public confidence in the government’s coronavirus immunization program, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Tuesday.

Senator Ralph Recto (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Recto said the first vaccines to arrive in the Philippines should have the higher efficacy and effectiveness rates since these will be administered to health and medical workers who top the government’s priority list.

“Shouldn’t it be that the most effective, and safest vaccine be given to our health workers?” the Senate leader said during their plenary session on Tuesday afternoon.

“If the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not been able to study yet any of these vaccines, why should we allow a vaccine, which in the news, has come out to be less than 50 percent effective, be given to our health workers?”

Recto particularly mentioned the vaccines developed by Sinovac Biotech, which were questioned for its reportedly expensive price and low efficacy.

The government said 50,000 doses of the 25 million that it had secured from the Chinese pharmaceutical firm are set to be delivered to the country in February.

In a separate statement, the senator said when it comes to vaccines, doctors and nurses will be the “social influencers” who will attest to the effectiveness of the drugs.

“People will not be reading scientific journals. They will not read the fine print. But they will trust their doctors. Sasabihin nila, ‘Kung ininject ni Doc sa sarili niya, kami pa kaya?’ Product use is the most powerful tool of persuasion,” he said.

“Where they go, the country will follow,” he added. 

On the other hand, he warned that if the vaccines will have a cold reception from the health community, it could affect the success of the vaccination drive.

“Palagay ko maling rollout ‘yan, Mr. President (I think that’s a wrong way to roll out the program)…Dahil kung hindi ‘yong pinakamahusay ang ibibigay natin, kung tanggihan ng ating mga health worker ‘yan, eh ‘di umpisa pa lang ng rollout may problema na. (Because if we do not give the best vaccines, and health workers refuse to receive these, then we will already have problems in the launch of the program),” Recto told his colleagues.

“Binigay natin sa health workers natin na frontliners ay ‘yong pinakasafe at pinakaefffective na bakuna para magkaroon ng mass buy-in ang mga taong bayan (We should give our health workers, who are frontliners, the safest and most effective vaccines so that there will be a mass buy-in),” he stressed.

Aside from the Sinovac’s vaccine, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine may possibly arrive in the country by February, 

Senators were told during the Senate hearing last January 15 that pending evaluation under the COVAX Facility this month, at least 50,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer could be shipped initially to the country.

The FDA has recently authorized the Pfizer’s vaccines for emergency use.