Filipino Catholic bishops are willing to transform the country’s church facilities into COVID-19 vaccination sites, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said on Thursday.
Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP president, said that it is the Church’s responsibility to serve God’s people at every opportunity. He added that in this time of a pandemic, the best way for the Church to assist those in need is to help out in the vaccine distributions.
“The bishops decided to offer, if needed, church facilities to be vaccination centers or facilities related to the vaccination program,” Valles said. (Read: PH Bishops Decline VIP Vaccination: ‘The Poor Are Priority’)
“We can offer our church facilities to help in this massive and complicated and very challenging program of vaccination,” the archbishop added.
Church Assistance in Vaccination
Now that the government is finalizing plans to inoculate at least 50 million Filipinos by the end of the year, issues concerning the public’s confidence in getting a vaccine are slowly coming to light. (Read: What Is ‘Herd Immunity’ and How Can It Beat the Pandemic?)
In December 2020, a Social Weather Stations survey showed that only 32 percent of Filipinos would “definitely” have themselves inoculated, while another 34 percent would “probably” get the vaccine. This is a worrisome statistic given that the recommended percentage of the population for vaccination is at least 60 percent, according to the WHO.
So to help boost people’s confidence in getting a vaccine, the bishops have also offered to receive the vaccine in public and show everyone that it is safe and warranted. (Read: How Effective is China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine?)
“If the Holy Father and the Pope Emeritus had themselves vaccinated… then why not,” Valles said. “The point is because our people understandably have this fear of the vaccine. So if our being vaccinated is a big help, then why not.”
Government Welcomes Offer
In response to the CBCP’s offer to use churches as vaccination hubs, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the government is open to accepting any partnership that can help widen the coverage of the vaccination campaign.
“We welcome the offer of the Catholic church because, of course, the more facilities we have, the better,” Roque said. (Read: Popes Francis, Benedict XVI Receive First Dose of COVID Vaccine)
The presidential spokesperson also welcomed the CBCP’s offer to have themselves inoculated in public, but added that the priority list should still be followed.
“I know it’s well-meaning, but I would leave the matter to the National Task Force and we have to stick to our order of priorities,” he said.