Article by Guinevere Latoza
CLAIM: Leandro Rafael Purisima, who is running as CMC Representative to the USC under the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights CMC (STAND UP CMC), claimed that free vaccinations are still not in sight amid trillions of debt incurred by the government for pandemic response.
“Tinututulan natin itong pinupush ni Duterte na pagbebenta ng Philippine properties na ibinabalandra niya na pang support daw sa health department. Ang unang-una sa lahat, magkano na nga ba ‘yung utang ng ating bansa sa international bank? Abot-abot na sa bilyones at trilyones ‘yung nautang natin pero ni wala nga tayong nakikitang mass testing or even free vaccination,” Purisima said at the UP Radio Circle’s On the Spot Forum virtually held today, June 4.
FACT: According to the Department of Health, the government is shouldering the vaccination costs of priority groups, which include frontline health workers, senior citizens, indigent population and uniformed personnel.
The department also indicated on their website that it is trying to secure more vaccines for non-priority groups. There is no assurance yet that these will also be administered to them for free.
The Philippines started its vaccination program on March 1 despite problems in supply. While millions of Filipinos have already benefited from the free program, the pace of the vaccine rollout remains slow.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that vaccine quality checks are one of the reasons for delivery delays. Former Inter-Agency Task Force adviser Dr. Tony Leachon also said in a Philstar.com report that logistical challenges, coupled with vaccine hesitancy, exacerbate the slow rollout.
“We need vaccine awareness, promotion and good supply chain management to get the vaccines administered to as many, at the fastest time possible, and least amount of wastage,” Leachon said.
In order to achieve the government’s goal of inoculating 70% of Filipinos by the end of the year, about 350,000 to 500,000 jabs per day is needed. But as of May 30, approximately three months after rollouts began, the seven-day average of doses administered is only at 144,402 per day.