Cebu City Council wants vaccine plan before purchase
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama raised the question about how the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines would be distributed if the city would avail of them in 2021.
In his privilege speech on December 16, 2020, Rama said there would be a need to identify a vaccination plan for the city especially since Mayor Edgardo Labella had already verbally signified the plans to purchase vaccines on top of the allocation that the national government would provide.
The Cebu City government has allocated a P500 million proposed budget for the vaccines in the Annual Investment Plan for 2021, although this budget has not yet been included in the P10.8 billion proposed 2021 budget.
The non-inclusion of the vaccines in the annual allocation was only brought by the uncertainty of getting the vaccine at the time of the formulation of the proposed budget.
However, since a vaccine has been developed and the national government would be purchasing these vaccines, Labella said that in January 2021, he would propose a supplemental budget for vaccines to augment the those that the national government might allocate for the city.
For Rama, there should be a form of preparation as to how these vaccines must be distributed to achieve the most efficient herd immunity.
“Although we see the light, we are yet to be illuminated. Kanus-a gyod kaha maavailable ning vaccine? Kanus-a kaha ang schedule ning arrival niining vaccine? Ug kinsa man ang unang makadawat?” said Rama.
(Although we see the light, we are yet to be illuminated. When can this vaccine be made available? When can the schedule of arrival of the vaccine be? And who can avail of these vaccines?)
The vice mayor wants the city executive department to present to the council their plan on the target beneficiaries of the vaccines, the schedule for the distribution or shots, and the needed logistics for the undertaking.
Rama also supports setting aside a budget of P500 million for vaccine, and the possibility of putting this budget into the annual budget for 2021.
Councilor Raymond Garcia, chairperson of the committee on budget, said a P150 million allocation from the annual budget proposal can be used for the vaccines initially, and the local finance committee would find ways to augment this proposed budget to reach the P500 million.
The City Council has agreed with the vice mayor and has called on the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the health agencies such as the City Health and the Department of Health to present the vaccination plan for Cebu City before the scheduled purchase on the first quarter of 2021.
The council wishes to help formulate the vaccine plan through the legislative task force for COVID-19 to ensure that the distribution will be efficient.
Rama said he hoped that when the vaccines would come to Cebu City, it would serve its purpose of eradicating the virus from the communities. /dbs
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