SENATE Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is appealing to the Inter-Agency Task Force and the Department of Health to allow the vaccination of economic and government frontliners, categorized as A4 in the priority list, as soon as possible.
“So many vaccines have arrived in the country thanks to the efforts of Sec. Carlito Galvez and Sec. Vince Dizon,” Zubiri said.
“However, a lot of these vaccines are just sitting in storage, with many vaccination centers reporting a lack of people to vaccinate, under the A1 to A3 categories. As a matter of fact, I have been told that some vaccination centers have allowed walk-ins so as not to spoil the defrosted and opened vaccines,” he added.
The government’s vaccination rollout, which began last February, is currently serving frontline health workers (A1), senior citizens (A2) and persons with comorbidities (A3).
To date, the country has received over seven million vaccine doses of CoronaVac (Sinovac), AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and Pfizer-BioNTech — all two-dose vaccines.
Only around 2.02 million people have received at least a single dose so far, with just over 500,000 receiving the full two doses.
“If some of our vaccination centers are empty right now, I think it’s time that we open them up for the next level in the priority list, our A4 frontliners— our essential economic workers and our uniformed personnel. This category is really crucial for our goal of herd immunity,” Zubiri said.
“Frontline workers both in the private sector and in the government sector are easily prone to infection and thus need to be vaccinated soon. If we want to achieve herd immunity, we need to start vaccinating as many vulnerable people as possible,” he added.
“I support the stand of Sec. Dizon and Sec. Galvez to start vaccinating our A4 group, assuring that all of our vaccination centers will be fully utilized, so we can bring up our vaccinations to at least 100,000 individuals a day,” he also said.
Still, Zubiri said efforts to vaccinate the most vulnerable sectors should continue, with the health workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities as top priority and who should be given a fast lane at the vaccination centers.
“But at the same time, we have to consider that the vaccines will expire if left unused, and we cannot afford to waste them. And if the A4 group is ready to be vaccinated, let’s get on with it,” he added.
He also noted the need to ramp up the vaccination program in the provinces, as there has been a spike in cases in several areas outside the NCR Plus bubble.
“We need to fast track vaccine deliveries to Central and Northern Luzon, and all the way to the South, in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Zubiri said.
“Many of these areas haven’t even started vaccinating their senior citizens yet because they’re yet to receive their allotment of vaccines. But with the new incoming batch of imported vaccines, we can now hopefully augment the stocks all over the Philippines,” he added.
He called for cooperation to prevent an India-like scenario in the country, noting that the best way forward, aside from the proper health protocols, is to vaccinate as many people as possible.
“And I really hope that everyone who can get vaccinated grabs this chance. The survival of our people, our economy, and our country does not lie solely with our government, but in each and every one of us choosing to do what is right and responsible, for ourselves, and for the people around us,” Zubiri said.