Filipino bishops have offered churches as alternative COVID-19 vaccination sites, a move that the Department of Health welcomed Sunday as the Philippines prepares for the rollout of its mass immunization program.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) offered churches as vaccination sites to cater to far-flung municipalities that lack health facilities.
“We can offer our church facilities to help in this massive and complicated and very challenging program of vaccination,” CBCP President and Davao City Archbishop Romulo Valles said in a virtual press briefing.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III welcomed the offer, saying using churches could expedite the vaccine rollout.
“The move of the CBCP to transform church facilities to vaccination sites will surely expedite delivery of most-needed healthcare services," Duque said.
"Churches really can be alternative sites to areas that lack facility, especially those in hard-to-reach municipalities,” he added.
The Philippines hopes to catch up with other countries that have started their own COVID-19 immunization programs, with an initial delivery of 50,000 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac scheduled to arrive in February.
So far, two drugmakers have secured emergency use authorizations from the local Food and Drug Administration for their respective COVID-19 vaccines-- American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, and British drugmaker AstraZeneca.