Garin hits uneven distribution of COVID-19 vaccines among LGUs

Deputy Minority Leader Janette Garin on Wednesday criticized the “chaotic” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, noting how the government is allegedly unfairly prioritizing local government units (LGUs) that are experiencing an outbreak or pandemic surges.

“Why is our vaccine czar acting like a fireman and using the vaccines to stop the fire. That is not how our vaccines should work,” Garin said in a virtual press briefing, referring to Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

“Vaccines are supposed to be for prevention. Remember, that if we are going to base (the distribution of vaccines) on the number of cases in a certain place, then we should no longer isolate! Let’s just allow the cases to increase so that we could also be entitled to more vaccines. Clearly, this is a big disincentive,” she lamented.

“Should overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) need to go to Metro Manila to get vaccinated? We should distribute the vaccines based on need and not based on want,” she pointed out.

Garin, a former health secretary, noted how Galvez and testing czar Vince Dizon have repeatedly altered the allocation list for the COVID-19 vaccines, making citizens, particularly overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), confused over the government’s policies.

For instance, the lawmaker said many OFWs thought they would be prioritized since they had been included in the A1 priority list having been included under this category with the help of Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.

“They were so happy to be included in the priority A1, but there are no vaccines allocated specifically for them when they go to vaccination areas," she said.

“In my district, there are approximately one thousand vaccinees ready for their second doses who are not going to get vaccinated according to the DOH (Department of Health) because they said Galvez and Sec. Vince Dizon are the ones in charge of the allocation of vaccines. They have repeatedly tinkered the allocation list, contrary to the recommendation of public health experts,” she also said.

“We have been patient when NCR was prioritized but the inequitable distribution and chaotic allocation never stops,” she lamented.

Garin also criticized the national task force against COVID-19 for encouraging the LGUs and the private sector to procure vaccines even without a certificate of product registration or CPR, then change the actual delivery of the vaccines.

“The vaccine czar should secure the vaccines and fulfill the promises he has made when he enticed the private sector and LGUs to buy the vaccines. Though I was against this, I respected his strategy pero tila sobra na (but this is too much),” she said.

“We’re now experiencing regular delivery of vaccines in the country, but how can LGUs program their jabs if allocation is based on whim?” she pointed out.