FORMER Philippine National Police Chief and now senatorial candidate Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday pushed for the use of barangay health centers as vaccination sites to boost the inoculation of all Filipinos who are yet to be vaccinated or are still waiting for their 2nd jabs or booster shot.
Eleazar’s suggestion came after the World Bank noted the slow pace and low rate of vaccination in the Philippines compared to its neighboring countries.
The former top cop pointed out that using barangay facilities would mean giving residents easier access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Kaya nga kasama sa aking panawagan ay ang mass training para lahat ng barangay health workers in preparation to make all the barangay health centers as vaccination sites. I-download na natin sa mga barangay ang mga bakuna dahil isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit mababa ang vaccination site sa mga probinsya ay malayo ang mga itinalagang vaccination sites sa kanilang mga tahanan,” Eleazar explained.
“Alam ng mga barangay officials kung sino ang hindi mga bakunado sa kanilang lugar at makakatulong ang istratehiya na ilapit sa mga tao ang bakuna upang mas mabigyan ng oportunidad ang mas maraming bilang ng tao na mabakunahan,” he added.
Recently, the national government decided to use some select pharmacies as sites for booster vaccination in a bid to hasten the primary and booster inoculation of the public amid the threat of COVID-19, especially the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Amid this move, Eleazar said the observation of the World Bank should serve as a challenge for both the national and local governments to do something to expedite the vaccination program in the country.
He, however, said the World Bank could have failed to consider some of the factors that contributed to the Philippines’ slow vaccination rate.
Among these, he said, is the inequality on the access of poor countries to COVID-19 vaccines. The government had said before that developed countries were able to procure most of the vaccines for their citizens.
“Of course, the allegation that somebody dropped the ball in the procurement of the vaccines is another issue,” Eleazar said.
“Second is that the Philippines is an archipelago which makes the transportation of the vaccines a real challenge,” he explained.
Eleazar also attributed the slow pace of vaccination to the onslaught of super typhoon ‘Odette’ which severely struck Visayas and Mindanao region killing dozens and rendering thousands homeless.
“And third, our country was hit with disasters that really slowed down the vaccination in the affected areas. Typhoon Odette for instance devastated at least six regions,” Eleazar said.
As of last January 16, the National Task Force against COVID-19 said that a total of 55,195,486 Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
In the PNP alone, there are 126 police who have succumbed to the virus from March last year to date.
Another 339 PNP personnel were also reported to have contracted the virus yesterday compared to the 349 on Thursday.
However, there were 370 new recoveries yesterday; 482 on Thursday and 503 on Wednesday bringing to 43,200 the total number of police personnel who have recovered from the disease since March last year and are now back to full duty status.
Further, the PNP leadership headed by General Dionardo B. Carlos said that 217,206 police personnel or 96.43 percent of the entire force are now fully vaccinated while 66,902 have already received their booster shots.