Press Release
March 26, 2021

Villanueva: Authorize local health execs to reallocate unused vaccines on next priority groups, instead of shipping back to sender

Owing to the archipelagic nature of the country, local health officials should be given the authority to reallocate left over vaccines based on the priority framework in order to prevent their spoilage, Senator Joel Villanueva said today.

Instead of shipping the unused vaccines back to Manila, "the DOH ground commanders can be authorized to give them to the next priority groups," Villanueva said.

"Marami tayong isla. Hindi naman tayo isang landmass na pwedeng isakay mo kaagad sa trak. Kung ikakarga ulit sa eroplano, ang laki ng gastos at abala," he said.

If time is of the essence, then a "no return" policy should be imposed, Villanueva said.

"Huwag na po natin hayaan mag-round trip ang bakuna. After all, it will not be earning any mileage points," he said.

He said local health officials should be trusted to make the "snap adjustments" for as long as these comply with the vaccination priority list that gives no room for "line jumpers."

Villanueva believes there is no lack of takers of whatever vaccines are left from the allocation for medical frontliners. "Nariyan po ang ating mga seniors, lalo na po yung ating mga essential workers sa ganung age group," he said.

The senator was reacting to reports that half of the 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for Central Visayas health workers which ended up unused will be sent to areas with high COVID-19 cases upon orders of the DOH.

"That may look good on paper but there are geographical realities and transportation restrictions. Pero aminin po natin na we don't have the flexibility to make that instant diversion," he said.

The practical solution, he said, is to take advantage of the vaccination set-up in place and invite other priority recipients.

"Ang end result pa rin naman po ay by vaccinating other key groups in the community, we are increasing their common defense against the virus. We are preventing outbreaks," Villanueva said.

He said for the vaccine rollout to be successful, "rules-based latitude should be given to medical frontliners," especially when vaccine efficacy is at stake.

"If we trust our doctors with our lives, then why should we not trust them with vaccine administration?" he said.

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