a hand holding a blue toothbrush: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo © Reuters A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is planning to inoculate a million Filipinos against COVID-19, its chairman Richard Gordon said Monday.

"Ang goal namin one million [vaccines]. 'Yan ang pinag-usapan namin ng aking mga staff kasama ang mga doktor namin," Gordon said in an interview on CNN-Philippines.

"Nagba-vaccinate kami sa measles and polio. One million ang nagawa namin last year. We can do that. Doon na lang kami, magba-vaccinate na lang kami ng let's say a million people," he added.

However, Gordon said the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation's (PhilHealth) inability to settle its multi-million balance for COVID-19 testing on time is quite a hindrance in pursuing this endeavor.

"We are going to do it with the Red Cross kung papayagan kami but again, ayaw ko pang pumasok diyan dahil ang laki pa ng utang ng PhilHealth. Hanggang hindi nababayaran 'yan, we cannot go and commit ourselves again to baka another wild goose chase trying to get it out," he said.

International donors for the potential vaccination program to be led by PRC may also raise an eyebrow on the issue of PhilHealth's unsettled balances, according to the senator.

"Ako makakakuha ako ng tulong sa ibang international Red Cross societies pero syempre at the back of their heads 'Nanghihingi ka ng tulong pero 'yung utang sayo ng gobyerno mo... tinulungan mo na, hindi ka binabayaran P800 million na aabot ang test, bakit ka hihingi sa amin?'"  Gordon said.

He said the Department of Health should ensure a systematic implementation of the immunization program against COVID-19 in the country, emphasizing that this would not only be limited to distribution but also training of personnel and proper storage of the vaccines. — RSJ, GMA News

This article Philippine Red Cross plans to vaccinate 1M vs. COVID-19 — Gordon was originally published in GMA News Online.

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