MANILA — The national government should assure all Filipinos of equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, as more local government units have already secured their vaccine supply, the Commission on Human Rights said Saturday.
In a statement, CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said it is the Philippine government’s responsibility to ensure that vaccines would be available even to the remotest parts of the country.
“A growing number of highly resourced local governments in the urban centers and metropolitan areas [are] lining up to gain immediate and priority access to COVID-19 vaccines seemingly ahead of others,” Gana pointed out.
“Vaccines must be as accessible for Filipinos in urban cities as well as those situated in far-flung areas of the country where there is a known cluster of infected population,” she added.
At least 61 cities have already committed over P10 billion to secure their own supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, according to the League of Cities.
Several cities in Metro Manila, meanwhile, announced they have already signed agreements for the advanced purchase of vaccine jabs, most of which are from British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
But Gana expressed concern that not all LGUs have enough financial resources to order vaccines in advance.
“The national government must step in to maintain a balanced access to the COVID-19 vaccines… An effective national vaccine rollout means a vaccine is made available to one living in urban Manila in about the same time to one recipient based in Sulu,” said the commissioner.
“An efficient vaccination system promotes the universal quest for everyone to be accorded the right to a standard of living adequate for one’s health and well-being, especially in the aspect of medical care.”
LGUs and private firms have helped lock in 17 million doses so far of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.
The Philippines has also secured 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech, and 30 million doses from the Serum Institute of India.
The country might also receive an initial vaccine batch from US-based Pfizer and Russia's Gamaleya Institute in February, said Malacañang.
The Philippines has trailed regional peers in securing vaccines, with which it hopes this year to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of its population