GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 January) – Officials here have bared that a deal is about to be closed for the purchase of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines worth P200 million as an initial move to immunize residents of the city this year.
The city government is buying its own COVID-19 shots even if it has been identified as among the pilot areas in Mindanao for the roll out of the national government’s nationwide immunization program.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said he is just awaiting the authority from the city council allowing him to enter into a deal with AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical firm.
Rivera said the city government is hoping to immunize 85 percent of the population.
He explained that among the reasons they opted for AstraZeneca are the cost and availability of storage facilities in the area. A dose of the vaccine costs US$10 or about 600 pesos.
Rivera said the AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in a “refrigeration machine” with a temperature of two to eight degree Celsius.
Rivera said they are expecting that the national government will augment the vaccines with the assurance of Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., the country’s COVID-19 vaccine czar, that this city is among the pilot areas in Mindanao of the nationwide vaccination program.
The mayor said they are hoping for the vaccination to commence on the first week of March, with the medical front-liners as among the top priority.
Meanwhile, the city’s private sector, led by the local business chamber, is looking at ways on how they can be of help in the immunization of their respective employees.
Elmer Catulpos, president of the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they are now studying the possibility of business firms buying their own vaccines to be used for their employees and their family members.
He said they are also into identifying possible recipients of the vaccines on a “one-is-to-one” donation scheme, which they will be doing in coordination with the office of Galvez.
“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 the broadcast journalist-turned-businessman.
The city has an estimated population of 700,000 and the initial vaccine purchase of the city may only cover a bit over 300,000, or about half of the city’s population.