THE League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) yesterday said 61 cities in the country have put together P10 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines for their constituents.
However, the LCP-member cities are scraping the bottom of the barrel for resources as there are insufficient funds to provide vaccine shots for the entire population, said Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, LCP national president.
“We thought that was a necessity considering that this is a new ballgame for us. When these all started, we were of the impression that all the vaccines will come from the national government,” he told the “Laging Handa” public briefing.
Leonardia said the LCP created a committee on vaccine availment in December to have a unified evaluation of all available vaccines, storage issues, and distribution timetables.
The mayor said while nothing is final in the procurement plan, the LCP has signed a non-disclosure agreement with vaccine maker AstraZeneca PLC which assured them that the first batch of vaccine shots can be delivered and ready for wide dissemination by the third quarter of 2021.
He said the city mayors will hold a general assembly today to thresh out issues regarding coordination with the national government, negotiating with pharmaceutical companies, and where to get additional funds for greater coverage.
“We have some savings and of course, and we are committed that if the worst comes …we are willing to realign, require or augment any and all items in our budget. Where the health and lives of our people are concerned, the battle cry is go for broke,” he added.
Manila, Makati and Baguio cities signed tripartite agreements with the national government and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company based in England, for the procurement of vaccines.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said 800,000 vaccine doses would be procured under the agreement, to be used for city residents and frontliners.
“We have closed the deal with an established pharmaceutical company. We will continue to acquire other possible, effective, safe and efficient vaccines for the people of Manila. At aakapin natin kahit hindi residente ng Manila pag dadalaw sila sa Maynila (We will welcome non-Manila residents if they visit Manila).We will make it accessible to those who come and go to Manila,” Moreno said.
A pre-registration portal for the COVID-19 vaccination of Manila residents and frontliners was launched on January 1.
Earlier, Moreno said the city government has allotted P200 million for the acquisition of the vaccines, with the amount later raised to P250 million. Moreno said the city government has made more funds available — as much as P1 billion — for the vaccine purchase in its 2021 budget.
Moreno also said he signed documents for the purchase of 12 refrigeration units and 50 transport cooler units for the vaccines.
“These refrigeration units are able to store vaccines from many brands such as Pfizer, AstraXeneca, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, Novavax and Sinovac, among others,” Moreno said.
Moreno said the city government will also build a new storage facility soon at the Sta. Ana Hospital, to be dubbed as the Manila COVID-19 Vaccine Storage Facility.
Moreno reiterated while the vaccine has yet to arrive, the public should strictly adhere to health and safety protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields, and maintaining physical distancing.
As of January 10, Manila has 25,233 COVID-19 cases, with 249 active cases and 759 deaths.
Makati Mayor Abigail Binay said the agreement was for the purchase of a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We intend to vaccinate all Makatizens, including real property owners, business owners, and non-registered voters who reside in the city. We want them to be safe from the virus, and we are aiming for 100% vaccination in the city,” she said.
Binay said the city will launch an information campaign, together with medical experts on infectious diseases and vaccination, to ensure that all doubts, concerns, and questions on the COVID-19 vaccine will be answered.
She urged Makatizens to take full advantage of the city’s free vaccination.
Makati will launch an online registration portal in the coming weeks. Last week, the mayor announced that the city has allocated P1 billion to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.
The Makati City Health Department has recorded 26 new COVID cases, bringing its total number to 10,302. Of the number, 9,717 have recovered while 381 have died.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said AstraZeneca has increased to 1.1 million the vaccine doses it will deliver to the city.
Belmonte on January 5 the agreement for the procurement of 750,00 doses of vaccines for 375,000 residents.
“This is part of the plan of our Task Force Vax to Normal. Now that we have secured 1.1 million doses, we will continue talking to other pharmaceutical companies to secure more vaccines for QCitizens to complement the national government’s goal. When more QCitizens are vaccinated, we can soon achieve herd immunity,” Belmonte said.
The vaccines are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of the year.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the agreement signed Sunday with AstraZeneca is for 190,000 residents of the city.
Magalong said AstraZeneca initially planned to supply doses for 50,000 residents only but the firm heeded his request to increase the doses for 190,000 persons.
He said the city in engaged in talks with other pharmaceutical companies to acquire more vaccines so more residents will be vaccinated.
The city is working to allocate P100 million for the city’s vaccination program.
Magalong said the city has also received commitments from private groups — including the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry and locators in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority — to provide the city 33,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Pasig City on Sunday signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for 400,000 doses.
Mayor Vico Sotto has said the priority beneficiaries are senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and children younger than 15 years. – With Ashzel Hachero, Noel Talacay, and Victor Reyes