in photo: Polish Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Jaroslaw Szczepankiewicz
By Monsi A. Serrano
Photos by Manuel N. Roma/THEPHILBIZNEWS
Contrary to what some observers say that it may take the government past 2024 to vaccinate at least 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19, Poland’s ambassador to the Philippines said it would not take that long since more supply is coming in.
Speaking to THEPHILBIZNEWS, Polish Ambassador Jaroslaw Szczepankiewicz said: “The Philippines is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in Southeast Asia, and it is not really easy. But I believe the rollout would not take longer than 2024 as others think.”
Szczepankiewicz said the target to vaccinate majority of the Filipino people would be achieved in two years at the most.
“While the Philippines may be relatively slow in the rollout of the vaccination compared with the ASEAN neighbors, when the US, Canada and other friends of the Philippines are done on their vaccination of their people, they are for sure will give the vaccines to the Philippines and that would ramp up the rollout,” he said.
The ambassador said the best strategy is for the vaccination program to focus on Metro Manila and key provincial cities where most of the economic activity takes place.
“While the idea of distributing the vaccines across the country is a good idea, for me it would be best to focus on those who are working in various business sectors while those who are outside the center of economic area most of the time stay at home,” he said.
He said inoculating the workforce is also important to keep industries going.
“When you inoculate the workers and other front liners in various industries, you help the economy and at the same time prevent the virus from spreading since in their respective workplaces, the health and safety protocols are observed,” said Szczepankiewicz.
He explained that with a limited supply of vaccines, implementing the vaccination program in areas with less economic activities first results in neglecting the essential areas where most people work and industries operate.
Asked what he would advise Filipinos wary of lining up to be vaccinated under the government program because of personal biases against certain vaccine brands, the ambassador emphasized the urgent need to be vaccinated.
“By all means, get vaccinated. You should not be choosy about our vaccines you can get because this will protect you and the people that you encounter especially your family. It is better to be safe than sorry,” he said.