Following the directive from University President Fr. Joel Tabora SJ, the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) enlists full-time employees and scholars for the first batch of vaccination against COVID-19, with costs to be shouldered by AdDU for those qualified under said categories.
In an announcement via email yesterday, Tabora said AdDU will purchase the Covavax vaccine which has an 89.3% efficacy and is nearly as effective in protecting against the UK coronavirus variant, according to a preliminary analysis reported by Hindustan Times in January.
The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has not issued yet an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covavax.
The Serum Institute of India in partnership with Novavax have announced that they hope to launch their vaccines this June.
Meanwhile, AdDU Executive Vice President Bong Eliab said the school will acquire the first batch of vaccines this July and the second batch sometime in October.
Tabora specified that only full-time employees and scholars above 18 will be recipients of the free vaccination. Employees’ dependents and part-time employees will be allowed to sign up for the first batch, but they will have to personally pay for the vaccination “possibly through salary deduction.”
For scholars, the College Scholarship Office has clarified that only those receiving full grants (100%) under the Grant-in-Aid, Working Scholars’ Program, and President’s Scholars are qualified.
Google Forms have been sent to qualified individuals. It was made available starting March 6 for employees and March 8 for scholars. It will be deactivated on March 9, Tuesday at 5 PM.
Other higher-education students will be accommodated for Covavax in a second batch, Tabora said. It was not specified, however, whether AdDU will continue to shoulder the costs for succeeding batches.
While he urged the University community to get vaccinated, Tabora stressed that those who would refuse will be respected.
“With Pope Francis, I would hope that we consider getting ourselves vaccinated as a moral imperative both for our own good as well as for the good of others…But where there is refusal, let us respond with respect. Obedience to a moral imperative is always given in freedom,” his announcement read.
Tabora’s directive came after the University Research Council (URC) released the results of its university-wide survey on COVID-19 vaccination, revealing that 52% of the respondents were not willing to bear the full cost of the COVID-19 vaccine series should AdDU spearhead a private vaccination.
Private vaccination: necessity or added cost?
Before Tabora’s announcement, concerns were raised about the necessity of AdDU privately purchasing vaccines, when the government is also providing free vaccination.
Eliab, however, explained that this initiative would ensure that the University community can acquire vaccines sooner through ordering its own doses than waiting for government supply.
“The problem there is the supply. If we wait for the free vaccination from the government–it’s a three year plan [and] we are number six in the prioritization. I don’t know if it will take us three years to get it if we wait for the government supply. If we will not, we will get it by July 2021…” he said.
He added that private sector-funded vaccine orders are processed faster than government orders.
“The government also has to move based on its budget and the overseas development assistance… [a]nd take note that these are processes that will take time… Whereas, if it’s a private sector funded order, it’s being paid immediately through the government and through the vaccine manufacturer,” he said.
“Unless we don’t act and then get our numbers straight, we will not get our vaccines,” he added.
Since private sectors are not yet allowed to purchase vaccines directly, AdDU will have to enter a tripartite agreement with the government and the vaccine manufacturer in order to acquire the vaccine.
Online education continues for SY 2021-2022
During the URC forum March 5, Tabora said that the administration has “already more or less decided that the next academic year will be online” unless there can be a way to return to face to face classes.
Whenever the University decides to implement blended learning however, vaccination will be a condition for employees and students who will enter the campus.
Tabora assured students that they will still work to create conditions for senior students to use in-campus facilities such as laboratories.
“[Blended learning] shall have to be safe for all the members of the ADDU community,” Tabora said.
Ray, Meenakshi. “Hope to Launch Covavax by June 2021, Says Serum Institute’s Adar Poonawalla.” Hindustan Times, January 30, 2021. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/hope-to-launch-covavax-by-june-2021-says-serum-institute-s-adar-poonawalla-101611998998546.html.