Two senators on Saturday, May 15, called on the government to speed up the rollout of its vaccination program after officials disclosed that millions of COVID-19 vaccines are nearing expiry.
“Bilisan na natin ang ating vaccine rollout. Huwag na sana tayo umabot sa punto na mae-expire ito…Dapat nakaplano ito nang maigi, na wala pong masasayang (We should fast track our vaccine rollout. Let’s not reach the point that vaccine will only end up expiring. Its distribution should be well-planned to avoid wastage),” administration ally and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said in a statement.
The Senate health committee chairman underscored the importance of preventing vaccine spoilage by citing the global shortage in vaccine supplies.
He also noted the discovery of new COVID-19 variants in the Philippines.
Senator Richard Gordon also issued the same appeal, expressing his “deep concern” over possible wastage of coronavirus vaccines.
While saying he understands the health department’s protocols of subjecting vaccinees to pre-screening to preclude any possible side effects, he said such protocols could be relaxed, and provide instead post vaccination care.
Such procedure, he said, has been widely used in the United States that enabled them to vaccinate millions of Americans in record time.
Those getting vaccines do not spend long waiting hours and are just given a hotline or a number which they can call should they experience some serious side effects, said the senator, who concurrently chairs the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
He said the PRC can mobilize volunteers all over the country to vaccinate as many people. All they need are the vaccine supplies, Gordon said.
“To avoid letting the vaccines expire, the government can immediately deliver the vaccines to the PRC and allow its volunteer doctors and nurses administer the vaccines quickly and safely,” he said.
“As we struggle to meet our vaccination targets amidst the scarcity of supply, it would be criminal negligence to let so many doses go to waste,” he pointed out.
“The Philippine Red Cross as an auxiliary to the government on humanitarian services, is also a partner of the government under the Bayanihan Act and should be tapped by the government to help speed up COVID 19 vaccination,” Gordon said.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said over 5.1 million doses of the vaccines must be dispensed as soon as possible due to their shelf life.