MANILA - The Quezon City government is looking into spending P1 billion for its COVID-19 vaccination program, an official in charge of securing and distributing the vaccine against the virus said Wednesday.
Speaking to ANC's "Matters of Fact," Joseph Juico, co-chair of Quezon City's Task Force, said the budget would also be used to procure other items that would supplement their vaccine initiative such as syringes, gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE)
"We would like them to know that Quezon City government would be setting aside budget for procurement to help the national government because I know it's a daunting task," he said.
As Quezon City battles a slight uptick of coronavirus infections due to the reopening of the economy, the city government has created "Task Force ‘Vax to Normal: The Quezon City COVID-19 Vaccine Plan," which will lead the inoculation program.
To date, the city has recorded 25,925 COVID-19 cases, of which 24,456 have recovered. Some 731 patients are still sick with the virus.
Those that will be prioritized for the vaccination program are the over 1,600 health workers, 284,000 registered senior citizens and more than 234,000 indigent families, Juico said.
While waiting for guidelines on vaccine procurement from the national government, the city's task force has ordered its local health department to look at how to scale up existing vaccination guidelines such as for polio and pneumonia.
"Once they say local governments can procure directly from the vaccine companies, then Quezon City is ready to purchase," Juico said.
"But at the meantime, while that is still unclear, we're preparing ourselves, not just for the procurement but also for the logistical requirements needed to vaccinate or inoculate our people."
Amid skepticism surrounding the vaccines, the city is seeking to partner with experts to strengthen the public's confidence of its safety and efficacy and combat misinformation.
"If the mayor or even the heads of department have to be vaccinated first, then I think we're willing to take that also, to show some level of confidence to our people that it is safe. It is what we need. It is what will bring us back to our normal lives," Juico said.
As the holiday season is around the corner, Juico urged the public to follow stringent health protocols to rein in the coronavirus spread.
"Doing this especially with the holiday season coming up, this would prevent an uptick of all cases in Quezon City and all areas in our country," he said.
"The more you love your family, then the more distanced you should have with them."