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PH top private firms seen to immunize employees vs COVID

THE nation’s top 5,000 private corporations are expected to draw up plans to immunize their employees against COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine becomes available, a House leader said on Sunday.

“As part of their business sustainability management, we are counting on our largest private firms to arrange and spend for the mass vaccination of their respective workforces,” said Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, vice chairman of the House committee on health.

“They have the wherewithal to vaccinate their workers through their in-house clinics or the facilities of their private health maintenance organizations (HMOs),” added Defensor, chairman of the House committee on public accounts.

An estimated five million Filipinos are employed by the top 5,000 firms alone, including multinational corporations in the labor-intensive and information technology-enabled business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, according to Defensor.

“The direct participation of big private employers in the COVID-19 immunization campaign will lessen the financial and logistical burden on the government,” Defensor said.

“This will allow our Department of Health (DoH) to concentrate on vaccinating disadvantaged Filipinos, such as those in the informal economy,” Defensor said.

“If private corporations can immunize their own employees, then the government will have five million Filipinos less to target for vaccination,” Defensor added.

The five million represents a little over seven percent of the 70 million Filipinos that the government hopes to vaccinate against the new coronavirus disease in three years to achieve herd immunity.

“Private employers have the obligation to look after the well-being of their workers, so the extra cost should not be an issue,” Defensor said.

“Besides, in vaccinating their workers, corporations will also be effectively protecting their businesses,” Defensor said.

“In fact, our private corporations are expected to benefit the most the moment we immunize 60 percent of the population and our flagging economy starts to recover,” Defensor said.

The country’s COVID-19 vaccine czar, Carlito Galvez Jr., earlier projected that in a best-case scenario, a vaccine would become available between April to June 2021.