By Deighton Acuin


Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday the national COVID-19 vaccination program should be addressed as a logistical problem since it is more than just a supply chain problem.

Robredo slammed the government for being unprepared for the distribution of 1,125,600 vaccine doses delivered by China-based Sinovac Biotech and British pharmaceutical form AstraZeneca through the World Health Organization’s (WHO)-led COVAX Facility.

“We could have prepared for this. We saw the example in other countries where they treated this not just as a supply chain problem, but (as) a logistics problem,” Robredo said in her weekly radio show.

Even before the vaccines arrived, the vice president recalled she has been suggesting for the government to identify the people who will first get the vaccines, as well as the ones who will administer the vaccines and the facilities where this could be done.

Robredo said the prospects of attaining the target of reaching herd immunity by December this year to have better Christmas for Filipinos are looking grim.

Between today and December 31, the government only has 286 days to vaccinate 73,000,500 Filipinos, which makes up 70 percent of the population. This is the recommended percentage of the population to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

In order to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year, the Vice President said the government should vaccinate 256,993 individuals per day. But the rate the government is going — inoculating an average of 15,000 a day — should need to be fixed, according to Robredo.

As of March 17, there are 269,583 Filipinos who received vaccines, representing 23.95 percent of available vaccines on hand.

“If we have prepared for it, many would have benefited from the 1,125,600 vaccines we now have,” the vice president said.

Robredo further said the government can learn from the practices made by other countries.

In the United States where the cases are much higher than in the Philippines, President Joseph Biden made the commitment to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days. They achieved that target in 58 days.

The difference is that the Americans treated it as logistical, according to Robredo.

They did not rely on hospitals alone as the location for the administration of the vaccines, but they also tapped well-equipped health centers and trained vaccinators. 

Robredo made the suggestion upon hearing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s comment that the government cannot rush the vaccine rollout because they have to consider the number of hospital staff.  

On March 1, the government started to roll out the vaccines it received from China’s Sinovac and soon after, the doses from AstraZeneca.

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