Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday, May 25, urged the government to start vaccinating “anyone who is willing” to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying it is about time to move the general public up in the priority program as early as June.
Gatchalian pointed out the country will have more than enough COVID-19 vaccine doses in its inventory by June to inoculate those who are willing to get vaccinated, at least those within the National Capital Region (NCR) plus.
The senator also noted the Philippines would have around 21 million vaccines in its inventory by next month.
“We’re now in the third month of our vaccination program, and from my observation, it’s about time to move the general public up in the priority program as early as June,” Gatchalian said in an interview over ANC’s Headstart.
“So meaning, allowing the general public, anyone who is willing to take their vaccine to be vaccinated as early as June. Meaning, allowing the general public, anyone who is willing to take their vaccine to be vaccinated as early as June,” he said.
“To achieve the herd immunity by the end of the year, we have to start with the willing because they are ready to go,” the senator stressed.
What is important, he said, is to allay the fears of the people on the COVID-19 vaccines.
“If you look at the SWS survey number one, there is fear that it might cause injury to themselves. The fear of the unknown is actually the biggest problem, not the ayuda (cash aid),” the lawmaker stressed.
That is why he doesn’t also agree with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) statement supporting moves not to announce what vaccine is going to be used at the time of the inoculation.
“Personally, in my analysis is that it would not help overcome fear, it will aggravate fear among our constituents,” he said.
“A lot of our constituents, believe it or not, they do their research. When I go around Valenzuela and talk to our senior citizens, they even know about vaccine passports, even though the efficacy rate, they do their own homework,” he pointed out.
“And by depriving them of the brand in advance, might create this notion of uncertainty, and that will not help them in terms of building confidence,” he reiterated.
The simple solution he can think of, Gatchalian said, is for the country’s leaders, personalities, and even media personalities to come out and promote the vaccine.
“We’ve seen this in some of our researchers in Valenzuela. They want their mayor and their councilors, the vice mayor to go out and promote and it will help, this is one solution but I think this is a common sense solution,” he said.