PH gov’t urged to draw up ‘clear-cut’ list of COVID-19 vaccine beneficiaries

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2021   •   127

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday called on the government’s task force on COVID-19 response to start drawing up a ‘clear-cut’ master list of beneficiaries while negotiations are ongoing between the government and pharmaceutical companies that will supply COVID-19 vaccine for the country’s immunization program.

In a statement, Villanueva said this is to ensure that overlaps in the selection will be avoided given the limited resources.

He stressed that the precise targeting of beneficiaries is important because a person can fall under multiple categories based on the initial priority list of the government.

“The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) should start drawing up guidelines as early as now so that we can maximize the distribution of the vaccines given the limited supply,” he said.

“We should already be anticipating the kinds of issues we would encounter once the roll-out begins,” he added.

The IATF’s initial priority list is composed of frontline health workers, senior citizens, indigent Filipinos, and uniformed personnel.

It was later expanded to include essential workers, seafarers, and overseas Filipino workers.

“We do not want overlaps in the priority list. Given the limited supply, we must ensure that each dose goes to the rightful beneficiary,” Villanueva said.

The senator said the IATF would need to precisely identify the 10.4 million additional beneficiaries considering that about 25% or about 10 million of the country’s 39.8 million employed workers as of the October 2020 Labor Force Survey are in “elementary occupations.”

He also cited the report of the Philippine Statistics Authority which states that among those involved in elementary occupations are unskilled labor such as “street vendors, cleaners, domestic helpers and farm hands.”

PSA data also shows that about seven million workers are in sales or service occupations.

“While unemployment eased in October to 8.7% or about 3.8 million jobless workers, we must understand that the people also stopped looking for work. The slump is getting into the heads of our workers, and the vaccination program will help boost both the confidence of workers and our businesses as well,” he said.

“We cannot afford to drop the ball on this. The stakes are too high. Our country’s economic recovery depends largely on this,” he added.

Galvez assures vaccine facility in Laguna can house 5M doses at a time

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday (January 20) spearheaded the site visit to a vaccine storage facility in Biñan, Laguna

The facility can house up to 5-million doses of COVID-19 vaccines at a time, Galvez said.

“Ito iyong tinatawag natin na main storage. Ito ang tinatawag nating central hub storage na later on kapag magkakaroon tayo ng designated vaccination in different areas, doon natin ita-timing ang shipment from here,” he said.

The facility is designed for vaccines that require a minimum of 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius in temperature which means about 30% to 50% of each shipment of vaccines can be laid in the facility.

It is a facility owned by Unilab.

The pharmaceutical firm said it allowed the use of its cold storage in support of the government’s COVID-19 response though it never ventured in any facility rental business.

As for the agreement, the government has yet to discuss with Unilab the terms and conditions for the usage of the said facility.

The national government targets to procure up to 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate about 50% to 70% of the country’s population. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

WHO laments world’s poorest countries might get left behind in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lamented that distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to the “world’s poorest countries” could face delays.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said richer countries and several private companies are buying up all the available vaccines. This also causes a spike in prices of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure—and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” he said.

Ghebreyesus reported that 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries while only 25 have been administered in one lowest-income country.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,” he noted.

WHO previously promised free COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries enlisted in the COVAX facility, which includes the Philippines.

The WHO Director General also expressed concerns that the pandemic may last longer if there is no coordination in the vaccine distribution across the globe.

“Not only does this ‘me-first’ approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self-defeating. Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,” he said. AAC (with reports from Mirasol Abogadil)

Manila City holds COVID-19 vaccination simulation

Marje Pelayo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The city government of Manila started its COVID-19 vaccination simulation as part of its vaccination plan.

In a small room in Palma Hall of the Universidad de Manila, local government officials want to visualize how they will conduct their vaccination procedure in preparation for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

Medical personnel and barangay health workers manned the booths and desks to demonstrate the vaccination process.

“Ang gusto nating ma-achieve, para lang sa kaalaman ng lahat, gusto naming ma-practice ng mga direktor ng ospital, ng MHT, ng aming mga medical frontliner na ano ang mga posibleng senaryo na pwedeng makapag-pabagal o palpak, o mishandling of products,” explained Mayor Isko Domagoso.

Mayor Isko tried it personally.

His account was pre-registered through the website manilacovid19.com.

In his encoded information he was already vaccinated in other sites.

The health worker is unaware of this to test if the system will trace it.

“Nobody knows na ako ay nabakunahan na kunwari sa kabilang site. At nung inilagay sa sistema lumabas vaccinated yesterday. So hindi talaga pwedeng mag doble-doble,” he said.

After the pre-registration, patients will be checked for vital signs and undergo screening verification before receiving the shot.

After receiving the vaccine, the patient will be asked to stay at a holding area for about 30 minutes to 1 hour under observation for any adverse reaction.

Domagoso said the simulation showed that the vaccination process itself may last from five to six minutes if the patient has already pre-registered.

However, the minutes differ for walk-in patients.

The local chief executive plans another simulation in a larger venue. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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