Robredo willing to expand 'Vaccine Express' to Visayas, Mindanao

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Robredo willing to expand 'Vaccine Express' to Visayas, Mindanao
Photo shows the Day 1 Launch of the Office of the Vice President's Vaccine Express project in cooperation with the Manila City local government.
Release / Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo said Wednesday that her office is willing to expand its “Vaccine Express” project to Visayas and Mindanao after a Cagayan de Oro lawmaker sought help with vaccine distribution.

"We are very much willing," Robredo said on Twitter, in response to Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, who urged her to set up drive-through vaccination sites for economic frontliners outside of Metro Manila. "Will ask our team to coordinate with yours."

In a statement, Rodriguez said Robredo should roll out the Vaccine Express program in cities like Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo where COVID-19 cases are rising, instead of the city of Manila, "which has already given so much vaccines to its residents."

"Let us not ignore the situation in the provinces. And let us not forget that Metro Manila is not safe as long as there are people in areas outside the capital region getting the virus," he said.

Vaccination event in Manila

In the pilot Vaccine Express program launched Tuesday in Manila, Robredo’s office only provided the buses which served as vaccination sites and staff, while the local government of Manila provided the vaccines to be used for tricycle, pedicab and delivery riders.

Speaking to reporters at the launch of Vaccine Express, Robredo signalled that her office is willing to partner with other local government units, but said that they have problems with vaccine supply.

"Our biggest problem is that in our office, we didn't have access to supply. So for us, we are really dependent on which LGUs are willing to partner with us,” Robredo said.

The national government is still pouring most of its vaccine stockpile into Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga and Rizal, in a bid to vaccinate 50% to 60% of its population by year-end, prompting criticism from politicians in other areas not prioritized in vaccine distribution.

In response, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said Monday that the national government remains committed “to provide all LGUs (local government units) the needed vaccines to achieve population protection in every region.”

Galvez said the more than three million vaccine doses from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Moderna arriving this month will be deployed immediately to LGUs and provinces running low on supplies, particularly those in high-risk areas. — with reports from Franco Luna and Gaea Cabico.





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