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More venues eyed for vax campaign expansion

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
More venues eyed for vax campaign expansion
City health officials of Biñan, Laguna innoculate residents at the Alonte Sports Arena on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. Many of the new recipients are workers getting the shot for the first time as the DOTr was about to implement the "no vaccine, no ride" policy in Metro Manila.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — After drugstores, the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) is exploring all other possible “avenues” to scale up the country’s inoculation activities against COVID-19.

According to NVOC’s Keiza Rosario, they are now looking for more venues where COVID-19 vaccination could be conducted.

“We are also exploring the use of medical clinics. They already have doctors and nurses so this can be integrated in their services,” she said in a television interview.

Rosario noted they are also considering the clinics in workplaces as possible sites for vaccination as part of their “provision of occupational health services.”

“These are the avenues the government is looking to make sure that we broaden the vaccination operations by including all sectors, the private sector and how we can integrate it to usual practices,” she added.

Starting today, the government will be piloting booster jabbing in seven drugstores and clinics to fast-track and widen the vaccination program against COVID-19.

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines president Beaver Tamesis said the pharmaceutical industry has been trained to do vaccination even before the pandemic.

“(They are) training in terms of upskilling themselves to be able to properly vaccinate individuals. What are the things that they need to watch out for, the kinds of preparations, etc. So they are trained, they are armed with this knowledge,” he told OneNews’ The Chiefs.

Tamesis underscored that it is important to “properly select the pharmacy, the right venue because pharmacies (are) of different sizes” since space is vital to COVID-19 vaccination to prevent the spread of infection.

He added there are “quite a number of pharmacists actually going through training to actually learn how to do this properly, the proper techniques and all that.”

“This has been something that the PHAP has been actually urging for quite some time now – that our drugstores and our pharmacists actually be involved in this nationwide effort to try to control the pandemic,” he maintained.

The Philippine Pharmacists Association Inc. (PPhA) yesterday expressed readiness to do the COVID-19 vaccination, which is to be pilot tested in seven drugstores and clinics in Metro Manila.

According to PPhA president Ma. Gilda Saljay, pharmacists have actually been undergoing training on immunization two years ago or before the COVID-19 pandemic begun.

“The pharmacists must be ready and we are ready. In fact, two years ago we already prepared for our training for vaccination for adults. It’s a good  timing that we can use this in this time of pandemic,” she told The STAR.

The government is all set for today’s pilot rollout of booster shots in major pharmacies and other clinics in the National Capital Region (NCR), National Task Force against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said yesterday.

Dizon told the Laging Handa public briefing that clinics in NCR can do the first, second and booster shots.

He said interested individuals, aged 18 years old and above, can pre-register or walk in to avail themselves of the booster shots to be administered by the pharmacists in Generika Drugstore, Signal 1 in Taguig; Mercury Drug Malate, President Quirino Avenue; Southstar SSD Marikina, Bayan-Bayanihan Avenue; Healthway Manila clinic, Watsons, SM Supercenter Pasig; The Generics Pharmacy in Parañaque and Qualimed Clinic, McKinley Road in Makati.

“If they are walk-ins, they have to register in the pharmacy which has their own registration system. Only those 18 years old and above will be accommodated. The minors are not yet allowed because they need to have companions such as their parents or guardian,” Dizon said, adding the program will be expanded in the next weeks.

At the Senate, Sen. Grace Poe said yesterday the surge in COVID-19 cases should prompt the government to ensure that “urgent needs” like free testing and vaccination are accessible.

“We call on the national and local government, working hand-in-hand with the private sector, to expand testing and vaccination sites to strategic locations where the public naturally converge such as malls, transportation terminals, drugstores, supermarkets or even workplaces,” Poe said.

“While mega-vaccination sites remain operational, setting up micro sites all over the country could make access to the services as simple as going to the nearby convenience store,” she said. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Paolo Romero

COVID-19 VACCINE

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