Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has appealed to authorities to open up COVID-19 vaccination for individuals in the A4 and A5 categories earlier, a move which would further accelerate the government’s vaccine rollout and increase the country’s vaccination rate.
In a radio interview, Go said that, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, he had an extensive discussion with concerned officials from the Executive branch, as well as leaders from the private sector, on how to further accelerate the rollout and resolve logistical challenges.
One of the suggestions was to open up the vaccination for the A4 and A5 groups soon.
“Dumarating na po ang mga bakuna pero nasa A1, A2, A3 pa rin po tayo. Ibig sabihin, doon sa priority list po ang A4 po ay ‘di pa mabakunahan. Sabi ko nga pwedeng payagan na ang A4 list dahil 25 million ito… importante dito walang masayang na bakuna dahil may ibang A1, A2, A3 na ayaw pa nila magpabakuna. Pwede namang balikan na lang sila (The vaccines have arrived but we are still in A1, A2 and A3. This means that those in the A4 priority list have not been vaccinated. I said that A4 list should now be allowed to get the jabs since we have already 25 million [doses]…what is important here is that no vaccines shall be wasted if some of those under the A1, A2, A3 refuse to be vaccinated. We can go back to them once they have already decided),” he said.
“May mga undecided pa po. Para walang masayang na bakuna, walang ma-expire, walang masayang na panahon, habulan po ito para makamit ang herd immunity this year. ‘Yun ang target natin, ma-attain ang herd immunity by November para naman po sumaya ang ating Pasko (Some are still undecided. To prevent wastage and none will expire, we have to use now the available vaccines because we racing against time in having the herd immunity this year. That is our target, to attain the herd immunity by November so we can have a joyous Christmas),” he added.
Given the continuing expansion of the countrywide vaccination, Go also supported the “Focus and Expand–Center of Gravity” vaccination strategy.
The strategy commits the government to focus its inoculation program on nine high-risk areas – National Capital Region, the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Pampanga, and Batangas; and the urban agglomerations of Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.
These areas are economic centers that make up 72 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. As such, they are also most exposed to COVID-19 transmission.
“Ang essential sectors o A4 category, kasama na diyan ang economic frontliners, ay napakaimportante upang mabalanse lalo ang pagprotekta sa kalusugan at pagpapasigla ng ating ekonomiya (The essential sectors or A4 category, which include the economic frontliners, is very important in order to further balance between health and the economy)” Go said.
“Tulad din ng pangako namin ni Pangulong Duterte, sisiguraduhin nating makakarating ang bakuna sa mga mahihirap at pinaka-nangangailangan, ‘yung mga “isang kahig isang tuka” at yung mga kailangan lumabas upang buhayin ang kanilang pamilya. Ito ang A5 category kung saan nabibilang ang mga indigent (As we have promised with President Duterte, we will ensure that the vaccines will reach the poor and those who are most in need, those “hand-to-mouth” and those who need to go out in order to support and feed their families. This is the A5 category where the indigents are included),” he added.
If the vaccination program would be opened for A4 and A5 groups, Go suggested the need to provide express lanes for A1 to A3 groups who have not been vaccinated as they remain the top priority and most vulnerable to the pandemic.
Go is also appealing for the establishment of more vaccination centers to ensure that the vaccines procured by the government are all utilized and maximized.
Despite the limited global supply, Go encouraged the government to continue procuring vaccines while ensuring that transport and logistical challenges are resolved to avoid inconveniences and disruptions in the deployment of the doses.
He also emphasized the importance of a strengthened information campaign on the vaccines to further boost public confidence.
“Mahalaga din na masigurong tuloy-tuloy ang pagbili at pagdating ng mga bakuna sa kabila ng limitadong supply sa mundo (It is also important to ensure the continuing purchase and arrival of the vaccines despite the limited supply in the world). Solusyunan din agad ang logistical at transportation challenges para maiwasan ang aberya. Paigtingin din natin ang ating information dissemination para mawala ang takot ng taumbayan sa bakuna (We also need to urgently solve the logistical and transportation challenges in order avoid possible setbacks. There is also a need for an intensified information dissemination to allay the fears of the public on the vaccine),” he said.
Go emphasized that all these actions are necessary to ensure a better and safer Christmas for all Filipinos in the midst of the pandemic.
“Ang bakuna ang susi o solusyon upang malampasan ang pandemyang ito at makabalik tayo sa normal na pamumuhay (The vaccine is the key or solution for us to overcome the pandemic and for our retun to our normal lives),’’ he added.