Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, urged the government on Saturday, January 9, to boost Filipinos’ confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines by communicating sufficiently and clearly its vaccine roadmap to the public.
“Mas paigtingin pa natin ang information dissemination campaign para hindi matakot ang mga Pilipino na magpaturok ng vaccine kapag napatunayang safe at effective na ito at aprubado na ng FDA,” he said.
“Habang sinisikap ng gobyerno na makakuha ng sapat, epektibo at, higit sa lahat, ligtas na bakuna, ipaintindi rin dapat sa tao ang mga hakbang na ginagawa dahil buong bansa ang makakabenepisyo rito upang malampasan ang krisis na dulot ng COVID-19,” he added.
Go stressed that an informed citizenry will also be empowered through the right information to contribute to the bayanihan efforts to overcome the pandemic.
“Kung informed ang taumbayan, mas mapapanatag ang loob nilang magpaturok kapag mayroon nang bakuna, at mas makakatulong sila sa bayanihan efforts upang labanan ang sakit,” he further explained.
He emphasized that aside from ensuring availability, accessibility and affordability of vaccines for all Filipinos, it is also the responsibility of the government to update the public on the status of procurement — as well as plans on the eventual distribution and use — until expected full recovery through ‘herd immunity’ is achieved when the COVID-19 vaccine roadmap is properly implemented.
“Dapat maintindihan ng tao ang plano para malampasan ang krisis na ito. Tiwala ako na may hakbang na ginagawa na ang gobyerno sa pamumuno ni vaccine czar pero malaking bagay para magkakumpyansa ang tao ay maipaliwanag sa kanila para tumaas ang tiwala at mawala ang agam agam,” Go said.
“Huwag nating pabayaan ang mga ordinaryong Pilipino. Bigyan dapat ng tamang impormasyon ang publiko para hindi matakot at magkaroon ng confidence ukol sa mga vaccines na ito,” he emphasized.
According to Go, the national vaccine roadmap against COVID-19 would facilitate the vaccine supply chain and ensure the equitable and systematic provision of the vaccine once it is available.
“Kunin natin ang kumpiyansa ng mga tao. Maraming gustong magpaturok pero takot ang mga Pilipino ngayon. Totoo naman, dapat safe, unahin natin ang safety at efficacy ng mga ito,” he further stressed.
The government has also been exploring multiple sources of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure access of Filipinos to safe and effective vaccines to overcome the ongoing pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte also signed Executive Order No. 121 on December 2, 2020, which allows the Director-General of the Food and Drug Administration to issue Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. With the EUA, the process of approving the use of COVID-19 vaccines from abroad will be expedited.
In addition, recent updates from Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., designated as the vaccine czar, indicate that Pfizer-BioNTech has already applied for the EUA.
Oxford-AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute also applied for the EUA where the Department of Science and Technology, Vaccine Expert Panel, and FDA will make initial data examinations.
Other vaccines eligible to apply for EUA in the country are Sinopharm, Sinovac, Moderna, and Bharat Biotech.
Galvez also recommended a tripartite agreement between the national government, local government units, and the private companies to ensure sufficient supply and equitable distribution.
“Pagpursigihin natin na lahat ng mga Pilipino ay mabibigyan at matuturukan. Sabi nga ni Pangulong Duterte, we are not safe until everyone is safe. Kung may safe at approved vaccine na, unahin natin ang mahihirap, vulnerable sectors, including mga frontliners upang makabalik na tayo sa normal na pamumuhay,” Go stressed.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee of the Whole is scheduled to conduct its public hearing on January 11 on the status of the national COVID-19 vaccine plan. Go encouraged authorities to maximize this opportunity to explain to the public the steps being taken and the plans to overcome the ongoing pandemic.