The shortfall of 250,000 doses in daily vaccination target in Metro Manila should prompt government to extend the reach of COVID-19 immunization to immediately include localities adjoining the National Capital Region (NCR).
Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles said instead of waiting for Metro Manila residents to go outside their homes for vaccination, government should expand the COVID-19 vaccination program to areas in Rizal, Bulacan, Laguna and Cavite.
Nograles, a member of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, underscored that achieving the daily vaccination target should remain the foremost objective in the country’s pandemic response.
“The low vaccination rates in Metro Manila is understandable given the recent imposition of stricter quarantine rules and the infection of a number of our healthcare workers due to the Delta variant,” said Nograles.
“The reasons for failing to reach the mark still persist as of the moment and one of the ways to vaccinate more people is to widen the coverage and include municipalities around NCR,” he explained.
The Rizal lawmaker stressed that broadening the target area for vaccination means more helping hands as the government’s vaccination program can access more healthcare workers in Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite.
“Besides, we have been using the term NCR Plus long enough to understand that Metro Manila is affected by what is happening to residents of nearby towns. It is about time to give these areas the attention they deserve,” he added.
The Harvard-trained solon also pointed out that allocating more vaccines to commuter towns around the Metro makes more sense with the ‘bakuna bubble’ proposal of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.
“While it is a novel idea, there are concerns that this might be discriminatory. It may be unfair to those who are willing to be vaccinated but cannot find a schedule,” he said.
“We understand the need to balance the economy and public health but this will be difficult to explain to those who wants to be vaccinated but our supply is just not enough to accommodate everyone who wants to get a jab. The way I see it, the majority believes in the protection given by vaccines, we just have to give them the chance to be vaccinated,” Nograles asserted.
Nograles also shared the sentiments of his constituents in Rizal.
“In Montalban alone where I live, we are continuously receiving inquiries on when will we get enough vaccines for our town. A lot of these people work in Metro Manila and some of them are riders that regularly enter malls to get their customers’ food orders,” the neophyte lawmaker stated.
He added: “What will be the scenario once we implement this ‘bakuna bubble’ without allotting sufficient vaccines for these essential workers? We need to think about them as well.”