BAVI Employees to Get Vaccinated
By Rose de la Cruz
For the employees of 1,700 stores of Bounty Fresh rotisseries and farms, the company is shouldering the cost of their COVID-19 vaccines to ensure their safety and protection against the deadly virus, which has killed 13.435 people in the country, the bulk (or 5,010) of which is in Metro Manila as of April 7.
The President last March 30 allowed the private sector to import their own COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that employees can return safely to work each day and the company can operate without disruption as the pandemic rages.
Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas said the vaccine will help the company to “continue serving the Filipino’s” need for healthy food. BAVI has ordered and would be giving free doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for its workforce.
“Since the pandemic began, our people have been working hard to feed the nation despite the logistical difficulties and the danger of contracting the virus, through the upcoming vaccination, we can further ensure that BAVI continues with its mission of serving the country,” he said.
In 2020, BAVI donated a volume of chicken that could feed over 500,000 people at the first year of the pandemic.
It was also among the first to join a tripartite initiative last November to buy and donate AstraZeneca’s vaccine to frontliners.
With more than 1,700 stores, BAVI is the largest rotisserie company in the Philippines, with brands such as Chooks-to-Go, Uling Roasters, and Adobo Connection.
It also distributes dressed chicken under the Bounty Fresh brand and is the first and only poultry integrator to produce antibiotic-free chickens.
The reason for private sector importation of COVID-19 vaccines is to boost the government’s plan to immunize Filipinos against the coronavirus pandemic in view of a reported shortage of vials, said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The country has imported only 1.2 million donated vaccines since January from China’s Sinovac Biotech.
Zubiri lauded the decision of the President to allow the private sector to import and buy vaccines at will, as this will be able to assist the government’s vaccination drive to vaccinate as much of the population as possible soonest.
Workers in the private sector, he said, should be called economic frontliners because they play a critical role in regenerating the economy and the private-sector employees should be immunized soon.
He said lockdowns — like the current enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Metro Manila and nearby provinces — can be avoided with adequate and timely vaccines.
“The private sector has the resources to order the vaccines for their workforce, who can be considered economic frontliners and are important for jumpstarting the economy. This will also prevent any more loss of jobs that could happen through continuous ECQ lockdowns,” he explained.
Duterte discussed stories about countries scrambling for available vaccines during the Monday night briefing, but he declined to go into more detail about the supply fight.
“Something has gone wrong with most of the countries. There’s a ruckus going on and the fight for COVID-19 [vaccine] possession is ongoing and it is a very serious one,” he said.
The green light for the private sector came with a stern warning from Duterte to companies that might want to market fake COVID-19 vaccines, warning there would be a place for them.
“I’ve said time and time again that the solution to this pandemic and to push for a resurgence of our economy is through vaccination. Look at Israel, which has the most efficient roll-out of the vaccines in the world,” Zubiri said.
“Life for them has slowly gone back to normal as they have started to achieve herd immunity amongst their population. Thus, allowing the private sector to purchase and deliver the badly needed vaccines to their workforce will help the government achieve herd immunity for our population,” he noted.
He also asked the IATF to issue vaccination guidelines so that the private sector can begin production.