As the Senate resumed deliberation on the national government’s coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination program on Friday, Senator Richard Gordon proposed to train more Filipinos to administer vaccines as the Philippines looks to start rolling out its immunization plan in February.
“I will file a bill on Monday that during times of emergency or even there is no crisis, dapat mag-train ng (we need to train) vaccinators gaya ng mga dentist (like dentists), veterinarians, medical technologists, at kahit iyong walang medical background (and those even without medical background). We can put to bear millions of our young people who may want to become doctors someday and can practice with bakuna (vaccination), provided it’s under clinical supervision,” he said.
During the hearing, Gordon questioned the Department of Health’s (DOH) capability to conduct the vaccination program with only 617,239 health care workers to participate in the campaign based on the department’s data.
Of the 617,239, 73,836 are from private health institutions, 64,998 from public health facilities, 29,000 are DOH-employed, 30,629 are hired by the local government units (LGU), 194,269 are contact tracers, 207,320 are barangay health workers, while 17,034 are social workers.
“Nagdududa ako dito sa (I have my doubts on the) 617,239 to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos although, of course, hindi naman sabay-sabay ‘yan. Habang dumarating ang vaccine, paunti-unti, nagbabakuna tayo. Alam naman natin, mababa ang vaccination natin (it’s not simultaneous. As the vaccines arrive, little by little, we are vaccinating. We know that our vaccination is low),” Gordon said, emphasizing the low-performance rate of the country’s National Immunization Program.
“Ang actual performance natin in 2016 ay 70 percent, 67 percent in 2017, 66 percent in 2018, 69 percent in 2019. So, hindi pa tayo masyadong bihasa sa pagbabakuna (Our actual performance in 2016 is 70 percent, 67 percent in 2017, 66 percent in 2018, 69 percent in 2019. So we are still not experts in vaccination),” he added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III agreed on Gordon’s proposal, which aims to help the government step up its immunization program, not only for Covid-19 but for other diseases, as well.
Philippine vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the government aims to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of Filipinos in three to five years.
About PHP82.5 billion was allocated by the government for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines this year, of which, PHP70 billion will be sourced from foreign loans. (PNA)