MANILA - The Philippines should strengthen its health system instead of building "mega vaccination" sites, a doctor said Wednesday.
There is no need to build new facilities as health centers in barangays are capable of administering COVID-19 vaccines provided that they are given sufficient equipment, training, and additional manpower, said Dr. Edelina de la Paz, National Coordinator of the People's Health Movement Philippines.
"I don't believe in mega vaccination sites because we have to provide at the point of care," she said in an online forum.
"You don't have to build new buildings. You don't have to cut down trees. Make use of your existing health centers," she said.
The national government's plan to build a mega vaccination facility in a forested area was earlier criticized online, with netizens and environmentalists saying Filipinos can be vaccinated without cutting more trees in the city.
Port magnate Enrique Razon, whose International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) Foundation has secured government approval to build an 8 to 10-hectare mega-vaccination facility, said the area was a reclaimed property and not an urban forest.
De la Paz said it would be better for the government to avoid vaccinations in enclosed spaces as COVID-19 tends to spread faster in enclosed spaces.
"Kapag nagkaroon ka ng mega vaccination, you are introducing a lot of people in a one-space area," she said.
The Philippines hopes to inoculate some 70 million Filipinos this year to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, but as of May 11, only 500,000 Filipinos have received 2 doses of the vaccine, according to data from the Department of Health.
Some 2 million other have been inoculated with their first dose, but have yet to receive the second jab.