The Paranaque City government is shelling out P250 million to buy COVID-19 vaccines when available to protect its residents from the deadly disease.
Mayor Edwin Olivarez assured that around 300,000 bonafide residents of Paranaque will receive the vaccine. He said they will prioritize the health workers, essential service workers, security and traffic personnel, and senior citizens, numbering to about 59,000 from the city’s 16 barangays.
He disclosed that the local government will directly negotiate with the pharmaceutical company to purchase the Food and Drug Administration’s approved vaccine once it is available in the country anytime this year.
“Our funds are ready in case a vaccine for the dreaded disease is already in the country anytime soon,” the city chief executive explained.
However, Olivarez pointed out that the city government will not purchase the vaccines not approved by local regulators.
“Unsanctioned or unregistered vaccines? No way! Baka masisi pa tayo ng mga tao sa bandang huli,” he said.
Olivarez said they will request and seek audience with Belgium’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., the first company to conduct clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine in the country, to permit them to purchase their approved vaccines.
Janssen, owned by US firm Johnson and Johnson, is among the three pharmaceutical firms with pending applications to do clinical trials in the country. The company’s office and headquarters are located along Edison Avenue, Barangay Merville in Paranaque.
“We are targeting half of the city’s present population to be vaccinated as soon we are able to purchase doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021,” Olivarez said. Latest census data shows that Paranaque, a first class highly urbanized city in Metro Manila, has a population of 665,000.
Aside from the P250 million vaccination fund, the city government will have an additional P1 billion funds on “stand-by” which it plans to borrow from the Landbank of the Philippines, according to city treasurer Dr. Anthony Pulmano.
“If the need arises, we are planning to loan P1 billion additional fund from Landbank for the vaccination program of the city government which at the same time help the national government in shouldering the budget for vaccination of majority of Filipinos,” Pulmano said.
“There must be nothing left. Lahat ng residente ng lungsod, mahirap man o mayaman, ay dapat mabakunahan hanggang 2022,” he explained.
For the past five years, he said, the city government did not incur any loans from any institutions after fully paying the loan of the previous administration.
With the government estimating the average cost of a complete vaccine dose at $25 per person, or about P1,200 each, Pulmano said the amount of P250 million will be enough to inoculate 300 thousand residents in the city.
He added that even Paranaque is not included among the cities in Metro Manila that showed an increase in COVID-19 cases for the past three weeks, city residents should still be protected from any virus including the new coronavirus variant that originates in the United Kingdom.
Latest City Health Office data show the city now has a total of 9,805 confirmed COVID-19 cases, where some 91 or 1.1 percent are active infections. Around 7,761 or 96.3 percent have recovered while 207 persons died.