Cebu City won't buy vaccines

·5 min read

THE Cebu City Government may no longer purchase its own Covid-19 vaccines after the National Government assured that enough vaccines will be allocated for Metro Cebu.

In a meeting with Visayas Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC) officials earlier this week, Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama was told by retired general Melquiades Feliciano that the National Government will prioritize Metro Cebu so it will achieve herd immunity before the year ends.

Metro Cebu is composed of the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu; component cities of Danao, Talisay, Naga and Carcar; and municipalities of Compostela, Liloan, Consolacion, Cordova, Minglanilla and San Fernando.

“Likely, if his (Feliciano) statement would be received hook, line and sinker, we are assured that the vaccines should definitely arrive for Metro Cebu,” Rama said in an interview on May 19, 2021.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, in a separate interview, said as of the moment, there is no need for the City to purchase its own.

Labella said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez told him that the National Government can send 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the city, to be coursed through the VVOC, as long as the city is capable of storing the vaccines.

Labella said the 500,000 doses are a combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines, but most would be Pfizer vaccines.

Labella said Galvez approved that Zuellig Pharma, an establishment located in the North Reclamation Area, is capable of storing Pfizer vaccines.

He will discuss Galvez’s approval with the Vaccine Advisory Board and request it to coordinate with the Zuellig Pharma management.

The Cebu City Government has allocated P400 million for the purchase of its own Covid-19 vaccines.

Rama, lead convenor of the city’s Vaccine Advisory Board, said Feliciano told him that the budget could be realigned and allotted instead for the manpower, logistics and other needs of the city’s vaccination program.

Labella said the budget can be used for “other worthy” programs and projects of the City, or be lodged as savings to save on public funds.

The City already sent a letter of intent to purchase vaccines to local distributors of Covid-19 vaccines, the Faberco Life Sciences Inc. and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Labella also signed a term sheet with Faberco in March, but he has yet to sign a supply agreement.

Rama said he will still wait for the executive department’s final decision.

He said, for now, only the national government has the ability to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.

According to previous reports, local government units had to have a tripartite agreement with the national government and the manufacturer to buy their own vaccines.

Strict

Meanwhile, the City announced that it will be strict on the no walk-in policy in vaccination sites.

Cebu City Health Department officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said they are glad there are walk-ins as it shows that many residents in the city are willing to get vaccinated, but this has resulted in crowding, long queues and extended waiting times at the sites.

Ibones said walk-ins at the vaccination site in the University of Cebu (UC) Senior High School campus will not be allowed entry.

This site is intended for the Pfizer vaccine rollout.

Since some of the city’s other vaccination sites are in malls, where they cannot control entry, Ibones said walk-ins may wait until all registered recipients complete their inoculation.

But he said it is better for the city residents to first register online and wait for a text message confirming their registration and stating the schedule of their vaccination.

Cebu City residents can register online at pabakunata.com.

Residents who do not have internet access can visit barangay halls as the 80 barangays have set up registration desks.

As of May 19, more than 110,000 individuals had registered for the vaccination program of the City.

Mandaue’s efforts

In Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes said he has no plans to implement mobile vaccination so the city could have a faster rollout.

Instead, Cortes plans to extend the vaccination schedule in the operations of the city’s two vaccination posts—Mandaue City Cultural and Sports Complex and the UC Lapu-Lapu Mandaue campus.

In his press conference, Cortes said the City cannot conduct mobile vaccination as it does not have a proper storage for the vaccine and they could not waste vaccines provided by the National Government.

Instead, Cortes plans to implement two shifts in the vaccination posts, extending the rollout until evening. The first shift would be from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the second shift from 2 to 10 p.m.

Cortes said he still has to discuss this plan with the Mandaue City Vaccine Board.

Cortes said conducting information drives at the barangay level to make people understand the importance of vaccination is also important.

“It is so ironic that before, we were afraid of the virus. And now, we are afraid of the vaccine,” said Cortes.

On May 18, the Mandaue City Vaccination Operations Center reported that it had inoculated a total of 983 individuals (medical frontliners and senior citizens) in the city’s two vaccination posts—710 in Mandaue City Cultural and Sports Complex and 273 in UC Lapu-Lapu Mandaue campus.

No people with comorbidities has been vaccinated in the city. The online registration is still ongoing in the city for this priority group.

Inoculated mayor

In Lapu-Lapu City, Mayor Junard Chan was inoculated with his first dose of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine in the gym of Barangay Pajo on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. The whole process took less than 10 minutes.

Dr. Mary Jane Loreche, chief pathologist of the Department of Health 7, administered the vaccine on Chan, who said he did not feel any adverse effects afterward.

Chan received the vaccine after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed mayors and governors to be inoculated along with medical frontliners and senior citizens.

Chan urged his constituents to be inoculated to protect themselves from getting infected with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. (JJL, KFD, GCM / KAL)

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