AS A PUBLIC SERVANT, AS A FATHER to three young children, and as a survivor of COVID-19, I see only one way out of this pandemic: vaccination. That is our key to recovery.
When I became one of the first few COVID patients in the country back in March 2020, I never thought that we would see our cases balloon to over two and a half million in the space of a year and a half.
In that time, we have lost tens of thousands of our people to this virus. Millions of jobs have been wiped out by various stages of community lockdowns. Our children have lost two years of face-to-face classes. We have made stifled attempts at reopening our economy, only to be beset by COVID resurgences throughout the country.
Achieving herd immunity— by inoculating 70 percent of our population—is the only way we can really end this pandemic, and finally work toward full recovery without fear of any more community outbreaks. Without vaccination, every attempt to reopen our economy is really just one step forward, two steps back.
This is why, along with my colleagues in the Senate, I endeavored to pass Republic Act 11525, or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act.
It not only institutes our national vaccination program, but it also allows for our local government units and the private sector to purchase vaccines for their constituents and employees, under an agreement with the National Task Force against COVID-19 and the Department of Health. In this way, our LGUs and the private sector can procure more vaccines for our people, at no cost to the national government. Our national government can then expend its resources toward places where LGUs cannot procure their own vaccines.
I have kept consistent dialogue with the NTF to push for the government to help our LGUs and the private sector successfully secure their own vaccines, so we can inoculate more people at a faster rate.
I have also called for a more equitable distribution of vaccines to our provinces. Being from Mindanao, it was a concern of mine early on in the pandemic that our provinces might get left behind in the country’s COVID response. So as early as April 2020, I worked with some friends to donate test kits to hospitals and LGUs across Mindanao. The pandemic is a national crisis, and it takes action across all our provinces to bring an end to it.
As the national government, LGUs, and the private sector all work to provide vaccines across the country, I urge our people to please get vaccinated, if you are able.
Do it not just for yourselves, but for your families and loved ones, and everyone around you. Do it for our overworked healthcare workers; for those waiting to find employment again; for our kids, so they can go back to school. And to those who have taken the vaccines, or registered for it: thank you. You have taken us one step out of this pandemic.