BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
The Bacolod City government allotted P300 million for the procurement of vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019, Mayor Evelio Leonardia said yesterday.
However, Leonardia said they do not know when the vaccines will arrive in Bacolod, and could not give the exact number of vaccines to be purchased due to the multilateral and confidentiality agreement he signed yesterday with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines Inc.
Leonardia added that the city government is willing to augment and realign all items in the city budget if the need arises for the procurement of the vaccines.
If it is for people’s health and lives, the city is willing to go for “broke” since these are important.
Leonardia said Bacolod has one of the highest budget allocations for the vaccine procurement.
He stressed that it is their policy and commitment to prioritize the health and the lives of people.
City Administrator Em Ang, who is the Emergency Operations Center executive director and deputy for administration and operations, said they will do a profiling of the individuals, who will be prioritized for vaccination.
Ang said they will base it on the list of priorities from the Department of Health and the National Inter-Agency Task Force earlier.
National Task Force chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. reiterated that first priority would be frontline health workers in public and private health facilities, temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, regional health offices, field workers, contract tracers, and barangay health stations, including emergency response teams.
Others in the first priority group are frontline workers of government agencies, like the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Bureau of Corrections.
Ang said that, as of now, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet issued any Emergency Use Authorization to any pharmaceutical company in the Philippines.
Dr. Chris Sorongon of the EOC urged the media to help in their education campaign so that the public will participate in the vaccination program.
Sorongon said that the EOC will consult with infectious disease consultants and will convene with the Speakers Bureau on the vaccination plan.
He said they want to emphasize to the public the benefits and importance of the vaccine, adding that they will also tap the barangay health workers in the education campaign.
The EOC is now consolidating reports from other countries on their vaccination activities, and checking the efficacy of other vaccines so they can provide these to the public.
Leonardia and Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said yesterday that they are willing to be vaccinated once the vaccines are available.
Present during the signing were Familiaran, Ang, Sorongon, Councilor Renecito Novero, Dr. Hector Gayares of the EOC, and acting city health officer Edwin Miraflor.
City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan, meanwhile, was tasked to work closely with AstraZeneca, that confirmed that Bacolod will be prioritized in the vaccine procurement.
Bacolod and Iloilo are top priorities in Western Visayas for the vaccine procurement.
Leonardia also requested the SP to authorize him on a continuing basis to enter into contract/s with any pharmaceutical company legally operating in the Philippines for the availment of Covid vaccines duly approved by the FDA. “The availability of Covid vaccines is limited, and considering the massive nationwide demand for it, we are bound to encounter problems in its timely availment if we do not act now to ensure that we are on the list of LGUs that are ready to avail of any vaccine supply that the national government shall be able to procure,” he added in his letter to the SP yesterday.*