MANILA – The Covid-19 vaccine supply in the Philippines is expected to grow “by leaps and bounds” starting May, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this assurance to allay concerns over delays in the delivery of vaccines to the country amid limited global supply.
Roque earlier announced that the arrival of the first batch of Russian-made “Sputnik V” Covid-19 vaccines will not push through this month due to logistical concerns.
He explained the logistical challenges rose from “being no direct flights from Russia and that vaccine requires -20 temperature.”
“Sa ngayon po hindi sapat, pero inaasahan po natin na sa simula sa Mayo eh talagang dadami po iyong supply by leaps and bounds ‘no (Now, we don’t have enough but we expect that at the start of May, our supply will grow by leaps and bounds),” he said in an interview over DZXL-RMN.
Roque said the country is expected to receive around 4 to 6 million vaccine doses by May.
“Hindi po ako nagkakamali — hindi ko lang memoryado — pero sisipa po ata sa 4 to 6 million ang ating makukuha ngayong Mayo at pagdating po ng July eh talagang lahat na po ng supply eh makukuha natin (If I am not mistaken — I just can’t recall — but we expect to receive 4 to 6 million vaccine doses this May and come July we will get almost all of our supply),” he added.
He admitted “shortfalls” in the expected delivery of more Covid-19 vaccine doses this month, but vowed that it was only temporary.
“Huwag po kayo mag-aalala, tapos na po halos ang buwan ng Abril at talagang nahirapan lang tayo dito sa Abril, nagkaroon po tayo ng shortfall ng inaasahan nating delivery; pero babawi naman po tayo pagdating ng Mayo (Do not worry, April is nearly through and we really had trouble this April with shortfalls in our expected delivery; but we will do better come May),” he added.
Not mandatory yet
Roque said he does not see a need to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory unless the country has 20 million vaccine doses a month.
“Kapag mayroon na tayong 20 million a month na bakuna ay pupuwede na nating pag-usapan iyong mandatory (If we have 20 million vaccine doses a month maybe we can talk about mandatory vaccination),” he said.
He said it is too early to speak about mandatory immunization while the country’s Covid-19 vaccine supply remained limited.
“Kasi hindi naman sapat ang ating bakuna, bakit tayo mag-iisip na gawing mandatory. Eh sa ngayon sapat-sapat lang iyong ating bakuna para doon sa mga gustong magpabakuna (We do not have enough vaccines, why do we have to think about making it mandatory. Now, we only have enough vaccines for those who want to get vaccinated),” he said.
Since the Philippines kicked off its vaccination program in March, Roque said Filipinos’ vaccine confidence has increased.
He noted that only parts of the country with low Covid-19 infections seemed to have doubts over getting inoculated against the virus.
“Kapag pumunta kayo doon mga lugar na mababa ang Covid, doon po siguro tayo nagkakaroon ng vaccine hesitancy, kasi iniisip nila ‘Bakit ako magpapabakuna, wala naman kaming problema rito?’ (If you go to areas with low Covid cases, that’s where there is vaccine hesitancy because they’re thinking, ‘Why do I need to get vaccinated, there’s no problem here)?’” he said.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. earlier filed a measure seeking to require all suitable Filipinos to get jabs as protection against Covid-19.
In filing House Bill 9252, Barzaga said mandatory vaccination is “imperative to solve the present pandemic and achieve herd immunity or population immunity.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, in several speeches, said he would not force anyone to receive anti-Covid-19 shots.
The Philippines aims to secure 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from several companies to inoculate an initial 50 to 70 million Filipinos this year. Azer Parrocha / PNA – northboundasia.com