Biz groups in General Santos eye purchase of vaccines for workers
GENERAL SANTOS CITY –– Businesses in this city are looking into buying coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines for their workers.
Businessman Elmer Catulpos, president of the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they are mulling on this initiative to help the government cover as many people that need to be vaccinated.
“This will help ease the burden on the part of the local government (and) at the same time ensure safety and productivity in our respective workplaces,” said Catulpos, a broadcast journalist-turned-businessman.
Catulpos said they were targeting to inoculate the workers and their immediate families.
Access to the vaccines for the private sector is through a tripartite agreement among the pharmaceutical company, buyer, and national government.
Catulpos noted that the national government requires the private sector to donate a dose to the government for every vaccine that they purchase for their use.
While the scheme is acceptable to many business people, Catulpos said many of them want to identify by themselves the recipients of the doses based on the Department of Health guidelines.
“For example, one business entity may want to cover the requirements of a barangay. They will buy the vaccines, and the health authorities will administer the doses,” Catulpos explained.
Earlier, House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez urged the national government to allow the private sector to access the vaccines directly invoking the “right to health.”
He stressed that if allowed, these companies would have to import vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration and would have to abide by relevant rules and regulations.
“A proper vaccination program for the private sector will significantly aid the government in its pursuit to fight COVID-19 and its effects, and in regaining some semblance of normalcy with businesses bouncing back and ultimately placing the economy on its way to recovery,” Rodriguez said.
The purchases of private businesses, according to Rodriguez, would boost the COVID-19 immunization coverage in the country.
The General Santos local government will conclude a deal with British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca for vaccine supply worth some P200 million.
Mayor Ronnel River said he was waiting for authority from the City Council to enter into a deal with AstraZeneca.
Rivera said they favored the AstraZeneca vaccine because it could be easily stored using available refrigeration machines.
The impending deal with AstraZeneca hopes to cover almost half of the city’s estimated 700,000 population. Rivera said they targeted 85 percent hoping the national government would fill the slack.
The mayor said they hope the vaccination drive could commence in the first week of March, with medical frontliners first on the priority list.
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