VACCINE FOR BORACAY. Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores says he requested for 40,000 doses of vaccine for Boracay island from the national government, in a press conference Tuesday (March 9, 2021). He said that Boracay island will be open to the world once tourism workers get inoculated. (PNA file photo)

ILOILO CITY – To open Boracay Island including to international tourists, the industry players on the island need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In a press conference Tuesday, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said he requested last month for 40,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the economic sector, which is the tourism sector.

He made the advance request, as the tourism sector, just like other leading industries, significantly contributes to the national economy.

Miraflores said the tourism sector has a huge contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, (GDP) amounting to PHP56 billion as of last count.

“To revive the economy, it is very important that the tourism sector should also be revived,” he said in a press conference streamed at the Facebook page of the Kalibo Cable TV Network Inc.

However, the provision of vaccines prioritizes the health sector and the elderly. Once they are done, then the distribution will go by sectors already, he added.

“But we are hoping that the 40,000 doses that we requested for Boracay will be prioritized also by the national government,” he said.

The governor expressed confidence that the government will prioritize Boracay once the tourism sector is already on the list of recipients.

“Once they get vaccinated in Boracay, we will open up Boracay to the world, not only to domestic tourists but to the rest of the world,” he said.

On Tuesday, the province of Aklan received its 2,420 vials of the Sinovac vaccine from the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH WV CHD).

Bulk of the vaccines will go to the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital (DRSTMH) with 920 vials.

Dr. Myla Bernabe, who represented the DOH WV CHD, said the vaccines already covered health workers from the province’s district, municipal and private hospitals. They are also assured of their second dose sometime next month, or after 28 days.

“We are assured that all our hospital health workers will be protected by the vaccine. As mentioned, AstraZeneca is also coming but is limited to the senior citizen health workers,” he said.

He added that according to experts, the Sinovac vaccine is 50 percent effective for mild cases, 57 percent for moderate cases, and 100 percent for severe cases that could lead to death.

The rollout on March 10 will be covered by cable stations in Kalibo for the public to witness and boost their confidence in the Sinovac vaccine, he said. (PNA)