Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — President Rodrigo Duterte said poor Filipinos remain a priority when it comes to inoculating against COVID-19.
In his weekly address, Duterte pitched the idea of vaccinators possibly going into impoverished communities to administer vaccines there, saying people in these areas have limited options in going to vaccination sites.
"Pag natapos na ang health workers, kayo na ang sunod [After the health workers, you will be next]... So the priority would really be the squatters. And we go to the squatters' area. They do not have to go there (vaccination sites), because a lot of reasons would come in: walang pera, hindi maiwanan yung anak, isa lang ang naghahanap-buhay [they have no money, they cannot leave their children at home, there is only one breadwinner in the family]," the President said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, however, mentioned there would be challenges to such a plan.
"Ang problema lang po...na nakikita ko ngayon...kung dadalhin yung bakuna sa kanila, kakailanganin po ng napakaraming taong magmomonitor ng adverse effects following immunization," he said.
[Translation: The problem I see right now is...if we bring the vaccines to them, we would need a lot of people to monitor adverse effects after immunization.]
Duque added this final step would monitor for side effects, and that it was "very important." He said in vaccination sites, those given the vaccine could be monitored properly, even if they were a group.
"Kasi, kung iisa-isahin natin sa mga lugar nila...kulang po ang tao natin para magmonitor, sir," Duque told the President.
[Translation: If we go to their areas...we do not have enough people to monitor.]
Duterte replied, "If you use that argument, na wala tayong tao, yung mga nasa barangay na mahirap hindi talaga mabakunahan. That's the problem."
[Translation: If we use the argument that we do not have enough people, those in poor barangays will never get vaccinated.]
Duque said a plan was already in place; local officials already have a list of names of who would be vaccinated, where it would take place, as well as how many could be inoculated a day in vaccination sites while following health and safety protocol.
"Execution na lang...implementation na lang. Parang sa Comelec na meron nang precinct, parang voting precincts, doon na lang sila pupunta may listahan na po doon," he said.
[Translation: It's all down to execution, implementation. It's like the Comelec where there are precincts, similar to voting precincts, there is a list there.]
Duterte proposed that a study be made on how many trips need to be made to these communities, under the condition that the integrity of the vaccines are not compromised.
The government has set its sight on vaccinating 50 to 70 million Filipinos this year.