MANILA - Some members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the government to hasten the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in the country.
At a joint hearing of the House Committees on Health and Trade and Industry on the COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan, Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Helen Tan said she welcomed the rollout but pointed out that the speed is far from ideal.
"We are glad to note that the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program started officially on March 1, 2021. As of April 13, 2021, a total of 1,093,651 Filipinos were already vaccinated with their first dose of vaccine, within 2,988 vaccination sites in the country. They are composed mainly of health care frontline workers, senior citizens, and adults with co-morbidities," Tan said.
"But, this is only around one percent (1%) of our total population. It is far from ideal," she noted.
"That is why, despite only two months into the effectivity of R.A No. 11525 (COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021), this Joint Committee will now look into its proper implementation."
Tan said the committees want "to know the steps that the national government, headed by the (Department of Health) and the (National Task Force), are taking to ensure the supply of vaccines and its distribution."
The side of the private sector, "which is very crucial" in the program, will also be heard. Private entities are allowed to procure vaccines through a multi-party agreement, according to Section 5 of the law.
Tan said that the vaccination cannot be delayed.
“The law notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon Congress to ensure a responsive and appropriate policy environment so that the legislative intent of RA 11525 will be carried out by the implementing agencies effectively. And, should it be necessary, to put in place remedies or policy reforms that would effectuate the very spirit and purpose of the law to make safe and effective vaccines extensively available and accessible to the public and as quickly as possible," she said.
"We cannot afford to delay the vaccination program. The people’s right to health cannot be compromised. The vaccination program is critical in reinvigorating the Philippine economy and our life as a nation."
Trade and Industry Committee Chair Navotas Rep. John Rey Tiangco sought a faster deployment of vaccines.
"On our part, as legislators, nand'yan na po ang batas, at may programa nang nakalatag para sa pagbabakuna kontra sa COVID-19. But, the best plan or program is only as good as its implementation," he said.
"Dahil buhay at hanap-buhay ang nakataya, kailangan po nating manalo laban sa COVID-19. Sa pamamigitan ng pulong na ito, inaasahan po natin na magiging maayos at mas mabilis ang implementasyon ng RA 11525," he added.
The Philippines has so far inoculated more than 1.3 million Filipinos against the COVID-19 nearly 2 months since the vaccine rollout started, according to government data released Wednesday.
In a vaccine statistics bulletin, the Department of Health said that as of April 21, a total of 1,562,563 vaccine doses have already been administered. Out of those, 209,456 were second doses.
The remaining 1,353,107 were first doses, which means that the same number of individuals received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The country has recorded a total of 962,307 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Wednesday, of which, 116,434 or 12.1 percent are active.