The committee o Health of the House of Representatives, chaired by Quezon 4th District Representative Angelina “Helen” Tan, and the Committee on Trade and Industry, chaired by Rep. John Reynald Tiangco, conducted a hearing today on the implementation of the newly enacted Republic Act (RA) No. 11525, otherwise known as the “Covid-19 vaccination Program Act of 2021”.
The law aims to expedite the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
In her opening statement, Tan explained that although the COVID-19 vaccination program was already passed into law.
It is incumbent upon Congress to ensure a responsive and appropriate policy environment so that the legislative intent of R.A. 11525 will be carried out by the implementing agencies effectively.
“We cannot afford to delay the vaccination program. The people’s right to health cannot be compromised.
The vaccination program is critical in reinvigorating the Philippine economy and our life as a nation”, she stressed.
Tan also noted that despite of the roll out of the program on March 1, 2021, a total of 1,093,651 Filipinos were vaccinated with their first dose of vaccine, within 2,988 vaccination sites in the country.
“This is only around one percent (1%) of our total population. We want to know the steps that the national government is taking to ensure the supply of vaccines and its distribution. We would like to hear the side of the private sector, which is very crucial in this program as well”, she said.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. reported that as of April 21, 2021, a total of 1,353,107 Filipinos were already vaccinated.
Among the A1 group of workers in frontliner health services, 989,703 received the first dose: 132,948 for the A2 group or senior citizens: and 180,315 for the A3 group of persons with comorbidities.
Food Drug Administration (FDA) Chief Eric Domingo revealed that 88 vaccines are currently in clinical development while 184 are in pre-clinical development.
The Philippine has already issued six (6) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) specifically for Pfizer-Biotech, Astrazeneca, Gamaleya-Sputnik, SInovac, Bharat Biotech, and Janssen, making it the second country behind Hungary to issue the most EUAs.
Sec. Joey Concepcion, Presidential. Adviser for Entreprenurship and Go Negosyo founder, underscored the private sector’s strong partnership with the government in the COVID-19 response.
He said the country has already secured a total of 6,594,482 doses of various COVID-19 vaccines under the private sector initiative.
A dose of Hope (ADOH) program, where 1,004 companies in the country have participated.
Conception also clarified in the response to Chairperson Tan’s query that it was the companies in the private sector that have propsed their donationws of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to the government.
He has forced thrm to donate a part of their purchase of the shots.
Galvez informed the joint panels that the country is now number 4 behind Indonesia, Singapore and Myanmar in the vaccination rollout among ASEAN countries.
He announced that a simultaneous rollout across priorization framework is expected to be launched in June to include the A4 group or the frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel.
With the scheduled scaling up of the vaccination drive, Tan brought to the fore the issue of needed vaccinators to sustain the inoculation program, which was previously reported to be needing around 50,000 vaccinators based on the number of individuals eligible for vaccination in each vulnerable sector.
Tan informed the joint panels that her proposed creation of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), which was already approved by the House on final reading and is now pending in the Senate, Amy significantly augment the needed vaccinators throughout the country.
However, pending the Senate’s approval of the MRC bill, Tan proposed the emergency hiring and training of needed personnel by the Department of Health (DOH) to augment the existing vaccinators of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
Tan also made a brief manifestation on the need to intensify COVID-19 vaccine information drive amid vaccine hesitancy among our people.