MANILA - Senators on Monday urged officials in charge of the Philippines' COVID-19 inoculation program to make the rollout of the vaccines as transparent as possible to improve the Filipino people's low trust in vaccines.
Aside from the logistics and acquisition, the government needs to "restore public confidence in vaccinations," said Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan.
"Transparency in the process is key if there is to be
public trust in a vaccine roll-out," Pangilinan said.
"Without the public’s trust and support, a program of this magnitude will not succeed."
Only a quarter of Metro Manila residents are willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, a recent study showed.
Another study noted that 84 percent of Filipinos are wary to be inoculated due to concerns over the vaccines' safety.
Reports of smuggled vaccines being used by the Presidential Security Group and Chinese online casino workers should also be investigated to settle worries over the circulation of ineffective jabs in the market, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.
"These must be looked into so that we could find out whether or not we need to amend our FDA (Food and Drug Administration) law and other related laws, and/or whether or not the laws are sufficiently enforced," he said.
The inoculation of some 100,000 Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) workers should also be looked into, Sen. Joel Villanueva said.
"Unahin ang essential workers at 'wag paasa sa ating mga kababayan," he said.
(Let's prioritize the essential workers and let's not make our countrymen look forward to nothing.)
"'Wag naman po sana umabot ito sa sitwasyon na survival of the fittest na lang tayo," he said.
(Let's not wait for it to be the survival of the fittest.)
While some cities and municipalities are already in the process of procuring their own vaccines, the national government should ensure that low-income areas would also receive COVID-19 vaccines, Sen. Pia Cayetano said.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez earlier said the government is set to spend some P82.5 billion to buy 148 million COVID-19 vaccines, and some 50 and 70 million Filipinos would be inoculated this year.