OVP ‘willing, ready’ to partner with LGUs in need of vaccination cabs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said her office is open to partnering with local government units in launching COVID-19 “vaccination cabs,” which will make vaccines more accessible to residents who would have difficulty registering online or going to designated inoculation sites.

In her weekly radio show, Robredo said while they are ready to convert their “swab cabs” to mobile vaccination centers anytime, the problem is that they have no doses yet to administer.

“Ngayon kasi wala naman kaming supply ng vaccine, kasi 'di ba lahat dumadaan sa national government, so wala naman kaming sariling allocation,” Robredo said. “So, kung may LGU na nangangailangan ng aming vaccine cab, very much willing naman kami to help.”

[Translation: Right now, the Office of the Vice President doesn't have a vaccine supply, because everything goes through the national government, and we don’t have our own allocation. So, if there’s an LGU in need of our vaccine cab, we are very much willing to help.]

Once a partnership is settled, the vice president said they aim to deploy the vaccination cabs to public markets, public transport terminals, communities for the elderly and persons with disabilities, as well as areas with an indigent population who may not have the capacity to sign up for the immunization drive online.

“Kailangan kasi may groundwork din ito. Bago kami pumunta doon, alam na namin sino babakunahan," Robredo added. "Pero the mere fact na dinadala mo doon, hindi nila kailangan mag-register online, ginagawa mong mas accessible."

[Translation: There needs to be groundwork for this. Before we go to these areas, we would need to determine who will be vaccinated. But the mere fact that you’re bringing the vaccines there, they would no longer need to register online, you’re making it more accessible.]

The vice president believes such an initiative is more urgent now amid fears that some two million AstraZeneca doses, set to expire in the next two months, will go to waste if not rolled out immediately.

“May danger na mag-expire kasi hindi pa tayo handa sa rollout,” Robredo said. “Kailangang bilisan natin. Kapag nag-expire ito, hindi siya excusable, kasi we had enough time to prepare.”

[Translation: There’s a danger that these will expire, because we’re not ready yet for the rollout. We need to speed things up. If these expire, it is inexcusable, because we had enough time to prepare.]

Since the start of the immunization program in March, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said the country has administered around 2.6 million doses as of May 12. Despite the slow pace, Galvez allayed fears of wastage, saying more vaccination centers will open in the coming days.

[RELATED: Vaccine czar targets use of soon-to-expire AstraZeneca doses by June 15]