Senator Francis Tolentino urged the Department of Health (DOH) to revive its information drive to help address the vaccine hesitancy of the general population.
During Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry in connection with the supposed non-disclosure agreement (NDA) provision enshrined in the vaccine procurement contracts by the government, Tolentino, the panel chair, asked officials from DOH on why there is no more regular daily briefing in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It seems nobody is making a report (on COVID). Before, we heard reports every day,” Tolentino said. He then questioned DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergerie if they had stopped their reporting on COVID-19.
According to Tolentino, the decline in the vaccination rates these days could be attributed to the authorities’ poor handling of information drive to convince the general population to have their respective booster shots amid some 44 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines that had been wasted—after the vaccines were left unused and expired past their shelf life.
“Can you attribute that to the decline now in number of vaccinations being done as well as the perceived vaccination hesitancy among the populace?” he asked.
The DOH admitted to the Senate panel that the weekly COVID-19 vaccination rate only stands at 46,000 doses per week. The figure is low, considering that 50.74 million doses of procured vaccines that are set to expire in the next few months.
Vergeire further stated that the health department continues to deliver updates through their official website in connection with the COVID pandemic.
But according to Tolentino, having a regular public briefing will help encourage the people to have their respective booster shots.
Tolentino’s panel concluded its probe in connection with the NDAs of procured COVID-19 vaccines, noting that the primary purpose of the inquiry is “to really come up with policies” that would ensure that if ever a pandemic strikes again in the coming years, the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic “would be part of the policies that are being implemented to benefit the people.”
“We enjoin the Department of Health to really be present in the daily discussion on how we can make the people realize that vaccines are still needed.”