A HOUSE leader has said that the national identification (ID) system may help in the efficient and judicious distribution of the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccine when the national government rolls out a vaccination program for the priority group earlier identified by the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
In a privilege speech delivered Monday, Rep. Florida “Rida” P. Robes of the lone district of San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan said with the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine in the United Kingdom and its approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration, it is a matter of time before the Philippines gets hold of the vaccine for COVID 19.
Robes, chairperson of then House committee on people participation, pointed out that while some countries have started investing in biometric digital ID for the administration of vaccines, the Philippines can make use of its national ID system which also uses biometric technology to make sure that all those that need to receive the initial supply of the vaccines will get them.
She stated that a biometric digital ID is being considered “a game changer” in vaccine administration because it has been proven effective in health and humanitarian projects in many countries all over the world. A health biometric ID has been successfully rolled out in 12 countries which increased health care visits and prevented fraud.
“With the limited supply of initial COVID-19 vaccine, it is important that we have a system to identify the priority patients and make sure the vaccine reaches them. Our IATF should seriously consider facilitating the implementation of the national ID system as our biometric ID on the administration of the COVID 19 vaccine in order to identify and track patients even in rural and offline settings to ensure that everyone receives a COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.
The IATF had identified 12 vulnerable groups that will be given first priority to the vaccine based on the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE).
They are the frontline health workers from the public and private sectors, indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, our indigent population and uniformed personnel.
Other priorities are teachers and school workers from public and private institutions, government workers, essential workers in agriculture, food industry, transportation and tourism, socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk like people deprived of liberty, People with Disability (PWDs) and Filipinos living in high density areas, overseas Filipino workers, other remaining workforce and students.
Robes has been conducting meetings with the different embassies to get updates on the development of COVID-19 vaccines in their respective countries and help facilitate the dialogue between their governments and the Philippine government to enable Filipino to get access to vaccines should they be proven effective and safe.
She said the government should plan for an expedited distribution and delivery system of the vaccines once they arrive in the country.
“We should devise effective delivery and monitoring systems so that those needing the vaccine the most should get it on time and thereafter be closely monitored and assisted,” she stressed.
One thing to implement is accountability to make sure that there is no corruption and no leakage in the delivery and administration of the vaccines, she said.
The establishment of a reliable and efficient supply chain to monitor the flow of the vaccines is also crucial, Robes said.
“We need to make sure that the vaccines remain potent all the way to the patient. This is important because most of the vaccines need to be stored between two to eight degrees Celsius. We need to ensure that we have sufficient refrigerated storage facilities and vans. We need to pool our cold-chain resources and invest in new equipment to make sure the vaccines are properly stored,” she said.
“No Filipino should be left behind in the fight against COVID-19. Let us work together to ensure that the vaccines are made available to everyone who needs it. Sana all ang COVID-19 vaccine! There is now light at the end of the tunnel and we should make sure that every Filipino get to that light so we can begin to rebuild our lives. I will personally make sure to do everything possible to help in this effort to give vaccine to every Filipino,” she added.