SENATOR and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go expressed support for the government’s recent initiative to increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among senior citizens and persons with comorbidities.
On January 14, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced simplified vaccination procedures that will help ensure qualified Filipinos receive the vaccine as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
The procedures include allowing walk-in admissions and dropping of the medical clearance requirement. House-to-house inoculations will also be conducted for those who are unable to travel to a vaccination site due to health or mobility issues.
“Matagal na akong umaapela na pabilisin pa lalo ang pagbabakuna at kung maaari ay dalhin mismo sa bahay ang bakuna ng mga willing maturukan pero hindi kayang pumunta sa vaccination sites,” Go said.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa gobyerno sa pagtugon sa ating apela na padaliin ang proseso ng pagbabakuna. The vaccine is the key to us achieving herd immunity, returning to normalcy, and overcoming the pandemic at the soonest possible time,” he added.
As of January 16, nearly 55.2 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health. About 58.8 million individuals have obtained their first dose while 4.9 million have received a booster shot. The government has administered a total of 118.9 million COVID-19 doses since rollouts began last February.
“I am calling on my fellow government workers, especially local chief executives, to ensure the continuous deployment of the vaccines. Let’s take it upon ourselves to bring the vaccine rollout closer to those who may have trouble getting them, including persons with disabilities and those who live in rural and hard-to-reach areas,” he appealed.
Secretary Nograles explained in an interview that medical clearances will only be required of vaccinees with comorbidities, such as cancer and chronic diseases. Blood pressure screenings will no longer be necessary unless requested by the attending physician.
To help accelerate the vaccine program, the senator had issued several appeals to the public and private sectors to come up with incentives to encourage those who remain hesitant to get their shots.
“Kung ma-rerelax natin ang mga restrictions at ibang protocols, inaasahan natin na mas maraming sektor ng ekonomiya ang mabubuksan. Mas marami sa ating mga kababayan ang makakapaghanapbuhay at makakabalik sa kanilang mga trabaho muli. Ibig sabihin, mas maraming pamilya ang makabangon mula sa hirap na dulot ng pandemya,” explained the lawmaker.
“Subalit dahan-dahan nating gawin ito. Maingat nating balansehin ang buhay at kabuhayan ng mga Pilipino. Huwag nating biglaing buksan lahat at mahihirapan na naman ang ating healthcare system. Ayaw nating mag-back to zero tayo ngayong dumadami ang bilang ng mga kaso,” he cautioned.
“Kaya kung maraming mababakunahan, mas maaaring luwagan ang mga patakaran dahil mas maraming protektado mula sa sakit. Nasa datos naman na karamihan ng severe cases ay mga hindi bakunado,” he added.
The government aims to vaccinate 77 million Filipinos and complete the 12 to 17 age group before the end of the first quarter of 2022. It is also targeting to fully vaccinate 90 million Filipinos and provide 72.16 million individuals with booster shots by the second and third quarter, respectively.
To do so, the government will seek to inoculate three million senior citizens and all remaining unvaccinated adults, the 25 million eligible for boosters, and minors at the soonest possible time.
Following the entry of the Omicron variant late last year, the country experienced a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections. Health authorities reported 37,070 new infections on January 17 which brings the total number of active cases to 290,938. The tally shows a record high of active cases.