Belmonte creates Task Force ‘Vax to Normal’ to oversee acquisition, distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

With several vaccines showing enormous potential against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has formed a task force to ensure the expeditious and orderly acquisition and distribution of the vaccine in the city.

In her order, Belmonte established Task Force ‘Vax to Normal”: The Quezon City COVID-19 Vaccine Plan, composed of heads of various offices of the city government and representatives from private stakeholders as members.

“Ngayong marami ng mga posibleng bakuna ang nagpakita ng potensiyal laban sa virus, dapat na nating paghandaan ang mga hakbang para sa agarang pagbili at distribusyon nito kapag naaprubahan na. We are organizing early to ensure that the directions set by the national government will be followed, and that those who need the vaccine most are prioritized,” said Belmonte.

Yesterday, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that coronavirus vaccine manufacturers Janssen, AstraZeneca and Clover Biopharmaceuticals passed the country’s ethics review board.

The Task Force is mandated to profile and mandate members of priority sectors for inoculation. Based on national guidelines, those who will be prioritized are health workers, senior citizens, indigent and vulnerable sectors, frontliners, essential workers, soldiers, policemen, uniformed personnel and business essential workers.

The city is now reviewing and finalizing the database of those in the priority list.

The task force is also tasked to select and acquire the vaccine or vaccines authorized for use in the Philippines in coordination with the national government, based on effectiveness and practical considerations such as the vaccine’s storage, handling, equipment and training requirements.

The Task Force is authorized to secure direct supplies from the national government and will study the possibility of direct procurement under applicable laws, subject to the guidelines and approval of the national government. It may also enter into tripartite agreements among the supplier, the private sector and the City, if allowed by the national government.

It is likewise responsible for the development and administration of a system for registering beneficiaries, tracking the distribution of doses and monitoring of any adverse events following immunization (AEFI).

The Task Force will also be in charge of selecting vaccination centers, storage areas for vaccines, transportation, mobilization, funding and information dissemination.

The Task Force is comprised of heads of the Office of the City Administrator, Task Force on COVID-19, Local Economic Investment Promotions Office, Budget Department, Procurement Department, City Health Department, City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, Quezon City General Hospital, Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital, Novaliches District Hospital;

Department of Public Order and Safety, Task Force Disiplina, Barangay Coordination and Community Relations Department, Social Services Development Department, Office of Senior Citizens Affairs, Education Affairs Unit, Public Affairs and Information Services Department and Information Technology Development Department.

The Task Force will also have as members representatives from the City Council to be designated by the Vice Mayor, private hospitals and non-government organization (NGO), representing the research sector. Representatives from the private hospitals and research sectors will be appointed by the Mayor.