MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will seek advise from Israel’s Ministry of Health as part of its bid to further enhance the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
In a statement, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said three experts from Israel’s Ministry of Health will arrive in the country on June 20 to share their technical expertise and knowledge about the vaccination rollout.
“In particular, the experts will discuss strategies on the deployment of highly sensitive vaccine types, mechanisms that need to be put in place as the country transitions to the new normal, and ways on how to address vaccine hesitancy,” Galvez said.
Israel has been considered a model country due to its highly successful vaccination program. The country has recently ended its outdoor mask mandate policy after completely inoculating more than half of its population.
Schools in the country have also re-opened, as the Israeli government is now working to fully re-open the nation’s economy.
“We will study and look at the lessons learned by Israel and hopefully apply those in the Philippines,” Galvez said.
The vaccine czar said the Philippine government is currently studying the feasibility of adopting one of Israel’s interventions to increase public uptake, which is “providing privileges to those vaccinated and restrictions for those unvaccinated.”
He explained that this method works by allowing people who have received the jab to increase their mobility and slowly return to normalcy, while those who have not been vaccinated will still need to follow quarantine protocols.
Meanwhile, Galvez expressed support for the measures being used by local government units and private sector to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“With the help of all sectors, unti-unti nang tumataas ang public uptake. We started with only 32% and now we are reaching 60% to 80% and with more aggressive efforts such as house-to-house campaigns, barangay town hall meetings, and tapping household advocates, tataas pa ‘yan,” said Galvez.
“Yung mga LGUs natin nagkakaroon din sila ng mga technique para magkaroon ng motivation sa kanilang mga residents, in a form of rice, pabuya, raffle, at iba pa,” he added.
LGUs have launched their respective incentive programs to encourage their constituents to get vaccinated.
Galvez said some LGUs are offering a sack of rice for every vaccinated individual, while some are organizing raffle draws for those who get the jab. Prizes include farm animals, groceries, motorcycles, and even a house and lot.
The private sector has also recently launched “Ingat Angat Bakuna Benefits” wherein vaccinated individuals get exclusive discounts and special gifts from the country’s leading restaurants nationwide.
He also said that the national government is now tapping “household advocates” to encourage their family members to get inoculated, noting that this approach is more effective as Filipinos trust and believe family members especially on topics of safety and protection.