As the country prepares for the roll out of several batches of vaccines in the coming days, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said the government is exerting all efforts to ramp up and accelerate the national vaccination program while simultaneously ensuring the safety and efficacy of the procured vaccines.
“This is just the start. We need to do more. We need to accelerate the vaccination program in a safe, sure and secure manner,” Go said.
“Ang gusto ng mahal na Pangulo ay ilalagay [ang mga bakuna] sa strategic places. Of course, sa Visayas, sa mga naka-ready na pasilidad doon sa hospital sa Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (sa Cebu City). Sa Davao City, sa Southern Philippines Medical Center dahil nakapaghanda na rin sila doon…Ang gusto ni Pangulo distributed [ang mga bakuna] all over the country,” he continued.
The Senator disclosed President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the first round of vaccinations to begin by the first week of March. He maintained, however, that the details of the rollout will be provided in due course by Chief Implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and vaccine czar Secretary Galvez Jr.
“First week of March darating rin ang unang batch ng bakuna sa Visayas at Mindanao. Pagkarating nito, susunod na araw pwede na mag-inoculate,” Go shared based on his discussions with Galvez.
He further added that the President had recently left open the possibility of revisiting his decision to reject the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to place the country under modified general community quarantine.
“Inatasan ni Pangulo Duterte na sa susunod na linggo umpisahan na agad ang pagtuturok ng mga bakuna, especially sa mga priority [groups] natin, sa mga frontliners, indigent na senior citizens para unti-unti na tayong makabalik sa normal nating pamumuhay,” said Go.
“Nag-order ang ating Pangulo na sundin ang sa priority list. In fact, itong 100,000 sa Sinovac, inilaan ito sa mga sundalo at civilian employees ng [Department of National Defense]. Ready na ang Veterans Memorial Medical Center na mag-conduct ng kanilang pagbabakuna,” he added.
The Senator, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, stressed the need for unity in order for the country to overcome the ongoing crisis, and praised the recent efforts by the executive branch and both houses of Congress to pass the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act.
The law, which the President signed the previous day, February 26, will fast-track the administration of COVID-19 vaccines and establish an indemnification fund.
During the interview, Go credited the hard work of Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, Minority Leader Senator Franklin Drilon, Senator Sonny Angara and other legislators for their efforts to pass the bill immediately.
“Isa po ito sa mga requirements na hinihingi ng mga manufacturers para mabilis ang pag-apruba ng vaccine (indemnity fund)…Ang nangyari ngayon ‘take it or leave it’! Nag-uunahan ang mga bansa para makakuha ng bakuna. So, our hands were tied. Nakatali ang ating mga kamay. No choice tayo kung hindi sumunod sa mga kasunduan,” explained Go.
“What is important right now is we work as a team—Executive, Legislative and Judiciary…Ang pinaka-importante dito ang bakuna. ‘Yun ang susi, ang tanging solusyon dito sa problema natin,” he ended.