May 24 ------ The elderly and other "vulnerable" persons will be prioritized once a vaccine against COVID-19 becomes available locally, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Wednesday. Interviewed on Unang Hirit, Roque said the government already has a vaccination plan for COVID-19. "Meron na po talaga tayong in place na vaccination plan. Sanay na naman tayo magbigay ng bakuna sa ating kababayayan so meron na tayong nabuong plano kung paano talaga i-implement ang vaccination as soon as it is available," he said.
However, noting the expected high global demand for the vaccine, Roque said it can't be made readily available for all, at least at first. "You can imagine, dahil ito'y kinakailangan ng buong daigdig ay hindi naman kinakailangan na biglaan magkaroon tayo ng vaccine for all," he said. "Dun sa ating plano merong mga uunahin. Siguro uunahin particularly yung mga vulnerable. Alam naman natin kung sino ang mga vulnerable, yung matatanda pati na rin po yung tinatawag na may comorbidity," Roque added. Roque said the government may shoulder the cost of the vaccine for those who can't afford it.
"Ang mangyayari niyan, those who can afford ay magbabayad, those who cannot afford, gobyerno ang magbabayad," he said. A former lawmaker who authored the Universal Healthcare Law, Roque said PhilHealth may also cover the vaccine. President Rodrigo Duterte has earlier expressed hope that a vaccine for COVID-19 may become available as early as January next year, citing the recent news about American biotech firm Moderna, which reportedly produced "positive interim" results in its first clinical tests.
The President has repeatedly stressed the importance of vaccines against fighting the virus, which is why he received the Moderna news well. Duterte also cited reported successes of Chinese researchers in developing a vaccine.