Gov’t should address vaccine rollout as a logistics problem — Robredo

Published March 21, 2021, 12:35 PM

by Raymund Antonio

The national vaccination program is more than just a supply chain problem, but it is also a logistical problem and the government should address it as such, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, March 21.

Vice President Leni Robredo
(Photo by Jansen Romero / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Speaking on her weekly radio show, Robredo hit the government for being unprepared to roll out the 1,125,600 vaccine doses that it received from China’s Sinovac as a donation and from Oxford AstraZeneca through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX facility. 

“We could have prepared for this. We saw the example in other countries where they treated this not just as a supply chain problem, but (as) a logistics problem,” Robredo said in Filipino over dzXL. 

Even before the vaccines arrived, the vice president recalled she has been suggesting for the government to identify the people who will first get the vaccines, as well as the ones who will administer the vaccines and the facilities where this could be done. 

The prospects for attaining the aim of the government to reach herd immunity by December and for Filipinos to have a better Christmas season this year are looking grim, she said. 

Between today and December 31, the government only has 286 days to vaccinate 73,000,500 Filipinos, which makes up 70 percent of the population. This is the recommended percentage of the population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. 

To achieve herd immunity by yearend, Robredo said the government must administer the vaccines to 256,993 Filipinos every day. But at the rate the government is going—inoculating only an average of 15,000 persons a day—she stressed this problem needs fixing. 

“If we have prepared for it, many would have benefited from the 1,125,600 vaccines we now have,” the vice president said. 

As of March 17, the government has only vaccinated 269,583 Filipinos, which represents 23.95 percent of the available vaccines for rollout. 

Robredo cited the government can learn from the best practices of other countries. 

In the United States where the cases are much higher than the Philippines, President Joseph Biden made the commitment to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days. They achieved that target in 58 days. 

The difference, Robredo said, is that the Americans treated the problem as a logistical one. 

They did not rely on hospitals alone as the location for the administration of the vaccines, but they also tapped well-equipped health centers and trained vaccinators. 

Robredo made the suggestion upon hearing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s comment that the government cannot rush the vaccine rollout because they have to consider the number of hospital staff.  

On March 1, the government started to roll out the vaccines it received from China’s Sinovac and soon after, the doses from AstraZeneca.