BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental will ask for three million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, after the national government announced that it will take care of 70 percent of the country’s population, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday.
Lacson, who attended the League of Provinces of the Philippines’ virtual meeting with vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, said that the three million doses will benefit 1.5 million Negrenses, or the equivalent of 70 percent of its population.
But it was stressed during the dialog with Galvez that nobody should be forced to be inoculated, Lacson said, adding that “it still depends on the individual if he or she wants to.”
The provincial government of Negros Occidental already entered into a multi-lateral contract with AstraZeneca for the purchase of 100,000 vaccine doses for 50,000 individuals.
The city government of Bacolod will also purchase 650,000 doses from the same pharmaceutical company.
Various component cities and towns of Negros Occidental also signified intentions to purchase vaccines for their constituents.
During the virtual meeting, Lacson said that Galvez encouraged the provincial government to consolidate the orders of the local government units.
He also confirmed that Western Visayas governors will have a virtual meeting with Galvez on Sunday, for the symbolic signing of contracts for the purchase of vaccines.
Lacson also said that Galvez informed them that the national government has secured 148 million doses of vaccine for 78 million Filipinos, or roughly 70 percent of the population.
Even with the vaccines, the governor stressed that people should still observe minimum health protocols, especially with the confirmation that the more transferable UK variant has been detected in the Philippines.
“Nobody is saying that you are forever protected by the vaccines,” Lacson said, adding that “It is not clear if you are covered for the rest of your life.”
Remember that the use of face masks, face shields, the observance of proper physical distancing, and the exercise of proper hygiene remain to be the most effective tools against the transmission of the virus.
Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia was one of the local chief executives invited to the ceremonial signing Thursday for the national government to accept donations from the private sector of AstraZeneca vaccines, a press release from the city said.
Leonardia, who is the national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, told the organizers, “In behalf of the city mayors, I am thankful that the cities are one of your focused areas. There are 146 cities in the country and we represent more than 40 million Filipinos. It is in cities where you can say that the Covid-19 problem is more serious.” “When the vaccines finally reach our shores, we will make sure to hit the ground running,” Leonardia added, in reference to the decision of the Bacolod City government to allot P300 million for its Covid vaccination program and its initial agreement to avail of 650,000 doses from AstraZeneca.*