Cebu governor tells mayors not to push ‘panic button’ as she assures vaccine procurement will be aligned with national program

CEBU Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia met with the provincial board and mayors on January 15 to assure them that the province will not be left behind in the coronavirus vaccine distribution program. Cebu, ranked as the richest province in the country as of 2019, is among the local governments that has not signed a vaccine purchase contract with any company. Ms. Garcia told the mayors to avoid pushing the “panic button” as they get “badgered” by constituents and the media over vaccine allocation from their local budgets. “I know you’re being badgered… And the temptation to give in to that bandwagon in order to look good is great,” but, she added, “Let us trust the national government here. All previous immunization program is rolled out by the national government — measles, polio — there are certain safety protocols to be put in place, and the strategies as well. Department of Health-Central Visayas Regional Director Jaime S. Bernadas also explained that local governments “cannot procure and roll out Covid-19 vaccines on their own.” He said the required tripartite agreement with the national government and pharmaceutical firms is intended to align the efforts of local governments with the national government’s program. — MSJ