MANILA, Philippines — The government will roll out COVID-19 vaccination in select pharmacies from January 20 to 21, testing czar Vince Dizon announced.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s address to the nation aired on Tuesday, Dizon said that the program is called Resbakuna sa mga Botika, which will start with seven participating drugstores.
“We will now start with seven pharmacies in Metro Manila which we will launch on Thursday, January 20 and on Friday, January 21,” he said.
“Mabilis po ito. Pagka-launch natin at magpa-pilot sila ng mga isang linggo, mag-e-expand na po tayo nang mabilis sa iba’t iba pang mga cities all over the country — Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao — at sa iba’t ibang mga botika,” added Dizon, also the deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
(It will be fast, Mr. President. After we launch, they will have a pilot run for a week. We will expand it to other cities all over the country — Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao — and other pharmacies.)
According to Dizon, the move is to address the lack of health workers, including vaccinators, due to the rapid COVID-19 transmission since the last week of December 2021.
“So, napansin po namin ni Sec. Charlie [Dizon] at ni Sec. [Francisco] Duque nitong nakaraang mga linggo, itong pagpasok ng 2022, na we needed to act fast para po matugunan, masagot po natin ‘tong malaking problemang ‘to dahil marami po talagang nagkakasakit na vaccinators natin and we moved quickly to talk to our big pharmacies,” he shared.
(Sec. Charlie, Sec. Duque and I noticed that when we entered 2022, we needed to act fast to address and respond to this big challenge in the past weeks because many vaccinators were ill.)
Dizon said they talked to Mercury Drug, Watsons, Rose Pharmacy, Southstar Drug, Generika, and other clinics like Healthway at QualiMed.
For the pilot run, the participating branches are:
- Healthway Manila Clinic
- Mercury Drug Malate, Pres. Quirino Ave.
- South Star Drug Marikina
- Watsons, SM Supercenter Pasig
- Generika Drugstore Signal 1 in Taguig
- The Generics Pharmacy, Parañqaque
- Qualimed Clinic, McKinley Road in Makati
“We would like to thank them because they responded immediately to the call of the national government,” he said.
The testing czar noted that their partnership with pharmacies and clinics would augment the lack of personnel and decentralize vaccination.
“This will greatly assist our local government units (LGUs) and the DOH (Department of Health) para po dagdag po itong mga personnel para magbabakuna (for additional vaccinators),” said Dizon.
“At the same time po, made-decentralize pa po natin more ‘yung ating bakunahan (we will decentralize our vaccination more) instead of just being focused on the big vaccination sites of the LGUs, the provinces, and the DOH regional offices, we will have smaller but more widely spread vaccination sites in the form of our botikas (pharmacies),” he explained.
During the Palace press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that each of the seven participating pharmacies and clinics will receive 500 doses per week.
He also stressed that the vaccination will focus on the administration of booster shots, and those who want to get immunized should pre-register.
“Libre po, libre po ito. Kabahagi po ito ng ating booster implementation, ng mga booster shots ‘no. So itong pilot implementation ng bakunahan sa botika, ay para sa booster shots lamang, okay? Kasi nagpa-pilot pa tayo eh so ang initial pilot natin is just for booster shots and, yes, kailangan po tayong magparehistro,” he said.
(This is free. This is part of our booster implementation. So, this pilot implementation of vaccination in pharmacies is for booster shots only, okay? Because we are piloting, it is only for booster shots, and yes, vaccinees should pre-register.)
The tack is apparently patterned after the United States, which had rolled out vaccination in pharmacies and supermarkets to expand its push for vaccination.