The Office of the Vice President (OVP) will bring the Vaccine Express initiative to Naga City, the hometown of Vice President Leni Robredo, to boost the local government’s COVID-19 vaccination capacity.
Naga is set to receive 6,000 doses of the single-shot Janssen vaccine, which was made by American pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. The Vaccine Express will run from July 23 to 24.
“So gusto nila, parang mabilisan iyong deployment, kasi ang daming naghihintay. So nagpadala na kami ng team doon. Ang target namin na maubos this weekend iyong 6,000 (So, what they want, is to make the deployment faster because many people are waiting. So, we sent a team there. Our target is to finish all 6,000 this weekend),” Robredo said.
Like with many local government units (LGUs), the problem with Naga is not that people are hesitant to get vaccinated, but that the supply comes in “trickles.”
“So iyong mga tao medyo impatient na iyong iba, medyo nag-aalala iyong iba (So, the people are becoming impatient, others are concerned),” the vice president said.
Robredo made a call for volunteers on Monday, July 19, for doctors and nurses in Naga to help in the vaccination drive. She cited that many have already heeded the call, so they are confident that they can use up all the doses allocated for the program.
The Vaccine Express was piloted in Manila with Mayor Isko Moreno last month. Other local government units such as Quezon City and Cagayan de Oro have already reached out to Robredo to bring the drive-through facility to their localities.
However, the vice president explained that they do not have access to the country’s vaccine supply, so the LGU has to allocate the vaccine delivered to them.
This is not the only COVID-19 response initiative that the OVP is providing assistance to Naga. Robredo also talked about the Tarabangan Kontra COVID, which was a program by a civil society group there.
The “comprehensive program” aims to help Naga-based businesses prevent the spread of the virus by auditing their businesses for the proper ventilation. The vice president attends these audits through webinars.
“Kasi tingin ko very important iyong prevention (Because I think prevention is very important),” Robredo said.
Although cases in Naga are relatively lower compared to other places, their hospital bed capacity is low and many of the mild cases there also have to be confined in the hospital because their homes are not fit for isolation and quarantine, she explained.
Still, Robredo is hopeful because she has seen firsthand how LGUs are stepping up. She mentioned Manila and Quezon City which both have vaccination at night and Mandaluyong and Pasay with their drive-through vaccination.
“So tingin ko iyong sikreto talaga sa pagbilis ng deployment—iyong LGU iyong tingin ko iyong deployment niya wala masyadong problema pero iyong supply, iyong supply talaga (So, I think the secret to expedite the deployment—the LGU’s deployment I don’t think they have a problem there but it’s the supply, it’s really the supply).”
The vice president has been calling on the government to hasten its vaccination program and get ahead of the possible Delta variant transmission.