Private companies will inoculate their employees against COVID-19 first before donating coronavirus vaccine doses to the government, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III said.
Concepcion told a joint hearing of the House Committees on Health and Trade and Industry on Wednesday that the country has secured over 6 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the private sector.
He also said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has agreed to the private sector-first arrangement.
“I would like to thank Secretary (Carlito) Galvez for agreeing that the donation of the private sector will be taken at the backend. In other words, instead them taking it in the first deliveries, they will take it towards the end after the private sector has been able to vaccinate their employees,” Concepcion said.
“That is definitely a big help to us even if we donated it, ideally, we will give it at the same time, but if we look at the calendar, the speed of inoculation of the private sector is so important to be able to ensure that factories continue running and that our people will be safe,” he added.
Currently, Concepcion said 751 micro, small and medium enterprises availed of 590,996 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, while 253 large enterprises procured around six million doses as of April 21.
Fifty percent of the 6.594 million doses of COVID-10 vaccines will be donated to the government, coming from AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novovax, and Bharat vaccines.
After the inoculation of the medical frontliners, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities, the government will give shots to the labor force.
Concepcion said the COVID-19 shots have been procured under the private sector initiative, A Dose of Hope (ADOH) program, where 1,004 companies in the country have participated.
Concepcion, however, noted that while the private sector’s strong partnership with the government in the pandemic response has been crucial, flexibility should be given to private companies as their workers belong to different priority groups under the A4 list.
Concepcion said the Department of Health (DOH) and National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) should provide the private sector the flexibility it needs in its vaccination rollout to speed up the process.
“It’s difficult to balance health and livelihood by doing what we are doing in the last 12 months like wearing face masks and face shields and social distancing --does that help no doubt about that. But our problem will be solved by the vaccine. In other countries, they vaccinated most of their citizens and you can see economic activities are coming back,” he added.
“The donations from the private sector will be taken at the back end. They will be taken towards the end or after the private sector vaccinates its employees,” he added.
The sectors belonging to the A4 group include commuter transport, public and private wet and dry market vendors; frontline workers in groceries, supermarkets, delivery services, and workers in manufacturing for food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products.