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Rev up vaccination rollout, gov’t urged

SENATOR Joel Villanueva on Thursday said the government’s vaccination drive must be accelerated to meet its target number of beneficiaries, and and urged loosening of movement restrictions that affect workers and hamper economic activity.

At the current pace of administering 3,887 vaccine doses daily, the government might not fulfill the President’s promise of life returning to normal by 2023, Villanueva said citing data from the Department of Health.

“There’s a need to accelerate vaccine rollout because our economic recovery and the return of jobs lost to the pandemic depend on it,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee. “If this is the pace of vaccination, it will take about 44 years to hit our target of 50 to 70 million of our people.”

The accelerated pace of administering vaccines are largely hinged on supply, personnel, list, information, and trust, or SPLIT, explained Villanueva.

Provisions of the recently-signed COVID-19 vaccination program act already cleared major blockades in the acquisition of vaccines, among them a prohibition against local government units paying in advance for vaccine doses, according to the lawmaker.

Villanueva also reiterated his call for the government, particularly the IATF, to ensure a clear human resource plan is in place as a guarantee that there are enough qualified personnel to administer the vaccines once the supply arrives.

He likewise inquired on the IATF whether it has already built its database of priority groups, which he earlier raised in January during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearings into the vaccination program.

“Habang inaantay pa po natin na makarating ang supply, dapat pong malinaw na kung sino-sino ang mabibigyan ng bakuna para maiwasan po natin ang delays sa rollout,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva urged the government to ramp up its information drive to shore up trust in vaccines in light of a recent survey found that 47% of Filipinos would refuse getting vaccinated citing safety concerns.

“Makipaghiwalay na po tayo kay COVID. Ayaw na po natin ng isa pang anniversary, kaya ang panawagan natin ay pabilisin pa ang rollout ng bakuna sa ating mga medical frontliners, at mga essential workers, na susi sa muling pagbabalik ng trabaho at pagbangon ng ekonomiya,” Villanueva said.