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AFP to guard 30 jab sites

House panel looks into 'most ambitious, large scale' vaccine rollout

Thirty vaccination sites will be set up in military camps, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Sunday.

In an interview over radio dzBB, AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the Department of Health has already approved the sites as the country prepares to receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines this month.

Arevalo said the AFP will provide security, medical, and logistical support in the country's COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

The military will secure the vaccines and inoculation teams, and deploy medical personnel to help health care workers administer shots to recipients, and offer their assets to transport the vaccines.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, is set to conduct an inquiry into the government's national deployment and vaccination plan (NDVP) to determine if its main objective—to vaccinate 70 million Filipinos by the end of 2021—can be met.

Deputy Speaker and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante said "the NDVP is the most ambitious and large-scale vaccination plan in the nation’s history."

The success of the plan "is crucial to end the threat posed by COVID-19 in the Philippines and to pave the way for a better normal that will allow the country to resume full social and economic activities," he said.

“The NDVP involves numerous government agencies, offices, and instrumentalities, all of which must work seamlessly together and be guided by data and science to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are properly administered to their intended recipients at the soonest possible time," the proposed measure read.

ON Jan. 26, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Covid-19 National Task Force (NTF) issued a memo to all implementing agencies, regional and local COVID-19 task forces, and regional and local vaccination operations centers informing them that the NDVP had been approved and ratified.

Also on Sunday, an infectious disease specialist warned of COVID-19 vaccines wastage if recipients fail to show up for their vaccination schedule.

Interviewed on radio dzBB, San Lazaro Hospital’s infectious disease specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante pointed out the importance of every dose of vaccine.

“For example, if the vial was reconstituted and the person does not come, it’s wasted,” Solante said in Filipino.

To avoid wastage, Solante recommended preparing some backup recipients to be on stand-by in case some scheduled receivers of the shot fail to show up.

He said a vial of COVID-19 vaccine can be administered to four to five recipients.

The Department of Health (DOH) said vaccination will roll out by priority groups, starting with frontline health workers, indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, remaining indigent population, and uniformed personnel.

Earlier, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian noted that the city's online registration traffic for COVID-19 vaccination was sluggish.

In Quezon City, Mayor Joy Belmonte said only 37,899 out of 74,793 residents who answered a survey said they were willing to be vaccinated. She said 10,819 residents refused to get vaccinated while 26,725 said they were undecided.

Health experts said that Filipinos’ trust and confidence in vaccines may be the next challenge in responding to the COVID-19 emergency.

“Over and above the issue of safety, we’re dealing with a bigger issue of trust and vaccine confidence,” DOH technical advisory group member Dr. Anna Ong Lim said.

An earlier OCTA Research survey indicated that only 25 percent of Metro Manila residents were willing to get vaccinated.

A separate survey by pollster Pulse Asia also showed that 47 percent of Filipinos were not inclined to get a COVID-19 jab, mostly due to safety reasons.

According to the DOH, an intensified information dissemination drive on the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine can increase vaccine confidence of up to 85 percent.

In another development, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara has filed a bill seeking to exempt donations of vaccines and other essential supplies from the donor's tax.

Now that the supply of COVID-19 vaccines is becoming widely available for purchase by the government and the private sector, Angara said donations of these life-saving drugs and the supplies and equipment needed for its administration, delivery and storage should no longer be taxed.

He said the national government, local government units and the private sector are all in the thick of preparations for the arrival of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Many of these vaccines will be made available to the public through the generosity of donors. We want to encourage more of these donations by exempting these from the donor’s tax,” Angara said.

“Similar incentives were already granted during the implementation of Bayanihan 1 and 2 in recognition of the need to increase the supplies of goods needed by our front liners,” Angara added.

Under Senate Bill 2046 filed by Angara last Feb. 10, donations of drugs, vaccines and medical supplies specifically prescribed and directly used for the treatment of COVID-19 will be exempted from the donor’s tax.

Also exempted are donations of capital equipment, spare parts and raw materials needed for the production of personal protective equipment components such as coveralls, gowns, surgical masks, goggles and face shields.

Donations of drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in clinical trials, including raw materials needed for the production of these drugs would also be exempted.

The bill also exempts donations of equipment for waste management, including waste segregation, storage, collection, sorting, treatment and disposal services.

The grant of donor’s tax exemptions will be in effect from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2023.

Topics: Armed Forces of the Philippines , COVID-19 , Department of Health , Vaccine , Edgard Arevalo
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