Senators ask IATF: Start vaccinations of the 'willing'

Published May 17, 2021, 3:09 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators on Monday, May 17, appealed to the government to begin inoculating people who are next in the priority line and are willing to receive the vaccines against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

A resident of Makati City receives a shot of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from a health worker at the Makati Medical Center on May 12, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN)

In their exchanges on Twitter, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara lamented that people are still hesitant to be injected with COVID-19 vaccines, including those in groups listed as a priority in the government’s nationwide vaccinations.

Gatchalian said that since the immunization program started in his home city Valenzuela last March, only 20 percent of senior citizens in the area registered for the inoculations.

Meanwhile, only 19 percent of the senior citizens actually came for vaccinations or got their COVID-19 jabs when the local government conducted house-to-house vaccinations.

“Vaccine hesitancy is real,” Gatchalian tweeted, saying in a separate post that he was “disappointed with they very low turnout” from senior citizens.

“Ayaw talaga nila (They really were refusing)…Some even said: Ang gusto namin ayuda, hindi bakuna (We wanted assistance, not vaccines)!” he also said.

“With this [rate], we will not hit 50 m[illion] herd immunity by end of the year. Vaccines will also spoil,” Gatchalian pointed out.

Pimentel shared his colleagues lament, writing: “Some who are not on the priority list are excited to be vaccinated. Some who are prioritized don’t plan to get vaccinated. Better to just open up the system and vaccinate all those who want to be vaccinated now. We already have sufficient supply. Don’t let the vaccines expire!”

“‘Di mo mapilit talaga (We really cannot force them to get vaccinated),” Angara also said.

The lawmakers said the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease should open up the vaccination for priority group A4, which consists of essential and frontline workers in government and certain groups in the private sector.

“Start ASAP the vaccination of the willing,” Pimentel later posted.

“We cannot wait for the seniors and comorbidities to change their minds…Dapat buksan na vaccination sa lahat ng gustong mag vaccinate (The vaccinations should be opened for those who wanted to get vaccinated),” Gatchalian also said.

“Open up A4 category, but still maintain priority for…seniors [and] those w[ith] comorbidities,” Angara likewise appealed.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. last week disclosed that the Philippines has over 5.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that have to be dispensed as soon as possible due to their shelf life. After this, President Duterte ordered the immediate distribution of vaccine to local government units.