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Let ‘em have it first

This is one “preferential option for the poor” that we can and must fully support.

By their sheer number, families belonging to the so-called “marginalized sector” usually live in densely packed communities where the threat of transmission is generally considered the highest.

They are also, quite arguably, the most mobile segment of the socio-economic classes. Thus, the risk of virus vectors or carriers within their ranks are higher.

Therefore, it makes common sense to prioritize them in the vaccination program against the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic which has spun off a deadlier strain in recent days.

It also makes moral, religious sense as the Church preaches putting the poor first in the order of government prriorities.

And so the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission for Bioethics lauded the government for considering the less fortunate Filipinos to be prioritized in the national Covid-19 vaccination program.

“We especially commend our national government for considering the poor in our national vaccination program. The poor are beloved of the Lord. They should be specially protected because their poverty makes them vulnerable to infection and severe disease,” Tuguegarao Archbishop Ricardo Baccay, chairman of the Commission, said.

Baccay also urged the people to have themselves vaccinated.

“The Covid-19 vaccines will only be able to end the pandemic in our country if enough Filipinos are vaccinated so we urge all of our people to be immunized when the vaccines arrive in the Philippines,” he said.

The CBCP-ECB chief expressed support for the government’s vaccine procurement initiatives.

“We, therefore, support the efforts of our national government to procure and to deploy these vaccines in our country, and we thank the private organizations who have come forward to help acquire them,” he said.

The Tuguegarao bishop, meanwhile, said people are still free to decide if they want to be vaccinated or not.

“We, therefore, recognize that each individual person should be left free to decide to choose to be vaccinated or not according to his or her conscience with full awareness of the obligation to protect oneself from being an instrument of contagion and the further spread of the virus,” Baccay added.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health said vulnerable sectors of the population would be prioritized to prevent the spread of Covid-19 given the limited supply of vaccines worldwide.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 60 to 70 percent of the population must be immunized or vaccinated for the population to achieve herd immunity against the disease.

Earlier, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government, alongside local government units and the private sector, are working together to ramp up efforts in vaccine procurement.

“We are doing everything with integrity and honesty, everything on what we do. Rest assured that we are doing its best to ensure your health and safety, put an end to this pandemic, and revive our nation’s economy,” Galvez said during the virtual ceremonial of the signing of the tripartite agreement with the private sector, LGUs, and vaccine maker AstraZeneca.

He cited the invaluable contribution of LGUs and the private sector in the government’s efforts to push through with negotiations for the equitable acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines as it signed another tripartite agreement with the British-Swedish biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

“As we formalize our partnership, we believe that the implementation of our National Vaccine Program will not only be less daunting but also more efficient and strategic because of the invaluable contribution of LGUs and the private sector,” he said.

The vaccine czar said the government has secured 17 million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.