There have been several reassurances from the national government that vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic are coming, and with the assistance of the private sector and local government units they will be delivered to communities as early as this month. With that settled the choice of which available COVID vaccine comes next in LGU planning. GenSan for instance has decided to invest in the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca. With regards to its neighbors however, the provincial LGU of South Cotabato seems to be in a quandary. Apparently they have yet to make a choice in preferred vaccine.
According to Minda News, the South Cotabato provincial government is still in the middle of a study they are making of the currently available vaccines against COVID-19 from overseas. This was revealed by their Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) head Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., during a press conference in Koronadal Thursday, February 4 last week. While the LGU is already prepping its local vaccination program the key element – which COVID vaccine/s will be used – has not been decided as yet. Dr. Aturdido explains that the IPHO is still examining viability and efficacy of the known vaccines as they have already been used outside the country.
Regarding which vaccines South Cotabato has expressed interest in, Dr. Aturdido has narrowed the possibilities to Pfizer from the US, and AstraZeneca just like with GenSan to the south. The choices are rather natural to make, in that these two are the only vaccines that already have emergency use authorizations from the Philippine FDA since last month. This is in line with, adds Aturdido, the decision made by Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo that the province will by its own vaccines in addition to what the national government will provide, and has tasked the provincial board’s finance committee to work out the necessary funds for their program.
The South Cotabato LGU is looking to follow the Department of Health (DOH) directive of 70 percent of its population needing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This amount to about 700,000 South Cotabateños aged 18 and above which are in the recommended vaccination age, spread across the province’s 10 municipalities and capital/component city. The DOH-12 will also be releasing data for target coverage when the vaccines will be rolled out.
Image: South Cotabato.gov website