Department of Health (DOH) Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire bared that the agency needs an additional P10 billion to procure enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine to immunize 20% of the country’s most vulnerable sectors.

Vergeire said that only P2.5 billion is allotted in the proposed 2021 national budget to procure COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos.

An additional P10.5 billion is needed if the Philippines wants to meet its initial goal of giving two doses of vaccine each to healthcare workers and indigents.

“Kapag tinignan ang priority population especially as pronounced by the President, noong kinompute natin lahat ‘yan, it totaled to ₱12.1 billion, so kulang ng about ₱10.5 billion sa budget na iyan,” Vergeire explained.

Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo previously expressed dismay over the P2.5 billion allocation, warning it would cover only 3.9 million of the targeted 20 million to be vaccinated.

Although the 2021 budget bill has already passed in Congress, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said they are working on increasing the allocation through a small panel amendment.

Velasco added that the current allocation will only cover 3% of the country’s population, a far cry from the request of President Rodrigo Duterte of 20%.

Last week, Duterte, who repeatedly touted a COVID-19 vaccine as the “only salvation” from the pandemic, reiterated his government’s goal to shoulder COVID-19 vaccination for each Filipino — with the poor, the police, and soldiers getting priority.

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