Makati, other LGUs allot funding for COVID-19 vaccines

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Makati, other LGUs allot funding for COVID-19 vaccines
Manila residents get tested for COVID-19 at the Quirino Grandstand yesterday. The city government requires vacationers from the provinces to undergo swab tests.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Local governments in Metro Manila have unveiled plans to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to their constituents ahead of the rollout of the mass vaccination program by the national government and the Department of Health.

Makati has earmarked P1 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that all city residents would be vaccinated, Mayor Abby Binay announced yesterday.

Binay said they are coordinating with vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to finalize the details of the mass vaccination.

“This is our number one priority for 2021. I want each and every Makatizen to receive both doses of the coronavirus vaccine for free to protect them and their families against the virus,” Binay said.

“We have seen the damage it can do both to human lives and our economy. After everything we’ve lost this year, we will do whatever it takes to protect our residents, employees and the business community,” she added.

Binay said she would ask the city council to pass a supplemental budget as soon as the local government gets the go signal from the IATF.

“We will exhaust all means to get the vaccines early and have all Makatizens vaccinated. The city will also assist companies and businesses that would like to buy vaccines for their employees and workers. We are aiming for 100 percent vaccination in Makati,” the mayor said.

Binay added that preparations for online registration are underway to ensure safe and convenient access to free vaccination.

The Manila city government is eyeing to set aside funding of P1 billion for its vaccination program, Mayor Isko Moreno said yesterday.

Moreno said the local government has realigned the budget for infrastructure projects to buy vaccines.

He said as early as July last year, the city government has been negotiating with Pfizer and AstraZeneca for the vaccine procurement.

Pasig has allotted around P300 million for the purchase of vaccines, according to Mayor Vico Sotto.

Sotto said the funding for vaccine procurement might still increase.

“The figure can still increase, depending on whether the DOH will allow us to buy our own vaccines and if there would be official guidelines,” he said in an interview on Teleradyo.

While the DOH had assured local government units (LGUs) of vaccines under the national procurement, Sotto said they are ready to supplement whatever the national government could provide.

Without naming companies, the mayor said the city government is in talks with pharmaceutical firms, adding that the city wants vaccines with higher efficacy rate.

“We will announce (the brand) before we buy the vaccines,” Sotto said.

He clarified that the city government would follow the process and would only procure vaccines that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In accordance with the protocols set by the national government, Sotto said medical frontliners would be the first to receive the vaccines followed by senior citizens.

In San Juan, the city government has started the registration of residents for free COVID-19 vaccination, Mayor Francis Zamora said.

Zamora said they opened the registration to determine the amount of doses the city needs to procure.

San Juan has allotted P50 million for the vaccine procurement.

Residents may register in barangay halls and health centers or through the online registration form that the mayor published on his social media accounts. QR codes were made available for easy access.

In accordance with government protocols, Zamora said the city would prioritize healthcare workers and the elderly.

Camanava mayors gear up for vaccination

Mayors in northern Metro Manila have set aside funding to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the city government has earmarked P150 million from its disaster risk reduction and management funds under the line item for medicine and supplies.

“It’s a standby fund. We can also supplement it by using quick response funds because we are under a state of calamity,” Gatchalian said.

Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco said P20 million has been allocated for the vaccine procurement.

The city government launched a Facebook survey to determine if the residents would take the free vaccines.

Of the 6,128 respondents, 84.2 percent said they prefer the Pfizer vaccine over China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm.

City hall said 64.1 percent of the respondents are undecided if they would take the vaccine.

The Caloocan government has allotted P125 million for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, Mayor Oscar Malapitan said.

City hall will secure P1 billion worth of loans for additional vaccines as the local government seeks to vaccinate 60 percent of its population, Malapitan added.

In Malabon, Mayor Antolin Oreta III said the local government is still looking at sources to fund its P150-million program to inoculate 20 percent of their population.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said LGUs could not procure COVID-19 vaccines as the FDA has not issued a certificate of product registration for any vaccine.

Vergeire said a vaccine would be available in the market following approval by the FDA.

“When it comes to the EUA (emergency use authorization) issued by the FDA to manufacturers, the only one that can procure the vaccines is the national government,” she said.

Only Pfizer has applied for EUA with the FDA, Vergeire said. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Ghio Ong, Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Sheila Crisostomo

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