By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has challenged Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque, III to be the first to be injected with COVID-19 vaccines in order to allay fears and build confidence of the public once the vaccine ordered from SINOVAC arrived from China.
Amid few doubts on the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, Senator Go posed the challenge to DOH Secretary Duque III and vaccine czar Presidential Peace Adviser Galvez to have themselves injected first with the vaccine. This is to allay the fears of some people as well as to build their confidence on its safety and efficacy.
“May mga nag-aalangan pa kaya dapat unahin natin ang safety ng vaccine na ito. That is why I’m challenging Secretary Galvez once safe na ipapakita niya, along with Secretary Duque, na sila muna ang magpapaturok ng vaccine once proven safe to encourage [the people],” Go said in an interview on Laging Handa last week in the newly opened Mindanao Media Hub in Davao City.
“(This is) to encourage naman po at mawala ang takot ng mga tao, pero dapat unahin natin ang poor, vulnerable, and frontliners, of course. Sila ang nangunguna sa labang ito — sundalo, guro, medical workers. Huwag rin natin pabayaan ang mga senior citizens natin na vulnerable and, especially, ang mga mahihirap na kailangan lumabas at magtrabaho — dapat po libre ito sa mahihirap,” mentioned Go.
Allan Afdal Nawal of the PNA had quoted Senator Go saying that a national vaccine roadmap has already been prepared for a systematic distribution of the vaccine once it is deemed safe and effective. He encouraged concerned agencies to properly communicate and implement the vaccine program to assure the public that the government is doing its best to restore normalcy amid the ongoing pandemic.
“Napaka-importante po sa vaccine na ito ang issue ng affordability at accessibility. Unang una, pagdating sa availability — dapat po unahin ang mahihirap nating kababayan,” he reiterated.
In the same interview, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said that they are anticipating the need for a larger budget to procure sufficient vaccines for the country’s population.
“‘Yan ang laging pinag-uusapan namin ni Senator Bong dahil siya ang chair ng Committee on Health. Kami naman, ina-anticipate namin na kailangan ng mas malaking pondo ‘yan. Sa ngayon, meron tayong naka-standby na PhP10 billion sa Bayanihan 2 for the procurement of vaccine. Bagama’t sa susunod na taon, under the National Expenditure Program, meron lang nakalagay doon na PhP2.5 billion na initial na budget for the procurement,” Avisado said.
Avisado assured, however, that there are several ways the government can secure enough funding for the much needed vaccines.
Meanwhile, Go has praised members of the private sector who have expressed their intention to help the government in procuring the safest and effective vaccine against COVID-19 once it becomes available in the market.
Go said that both the government and the private sector are working together to ensure access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
“Tulung-tulong ang ating private sector, mga negosyante, alam naman nila na ‘di ito kakayanin ng gobyerno lang, salamat sa suporta sa Administrasyong Duterte. Kailangan nating magkaisa para malagpasan natin ito,” Go said.
“Sino ba naman ang magtutulungan kundi tayong mga kapwa Pilipino,” he added. JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL