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Ending a pandemic: Collaboration for the greater good

With millions directly and indirectly affected by the pandemic, COVID-19 has become one of the single biggest challenges in modern history. Over a year has passed since its outbreak and the world is still reeling from its impact. Yet, an end may be near.

With the government’s vaccination rollout in full force, the question now is how to properly and effectively vaccinate the majority of 70 million people in the Philippines. With the National Capital Region alone having more than 10 million residents, the challenge is daunting in both scale and complexity.

Luckily, the public sector does not have to do it alone.

The country’s top brands, private healthcare providers, and malls have pledged their support, launching the “Ingat Angat Bakuna Lahat” campaign to promote the vaccination of more Filipinos against COVID-19.

“With Ingat Angat Bakuna Lahat, we want to encourage vaccine willingness and support mass vaccinations, which are crucial for a safe economic recovery and return to normalcy,” Margot Torres, managing director for McDonald’s Philippines and Ingat Angat Bakuna Lahat communications advocacy co-lead, said during the online launch of the campaign.

“This Ingat Angat Bakuna Lahat campaign is the result of the collaboration of many private sector companies who generously contributed funds and their expertise, talent, and time to support our country’s national vaccination program,” she added.

Companies who are supporting the campaign include Banco de Oro, Cebu Pacific, Food Panda, Globe Telecom, Goldilocks, ICTSI, Jollibee Foods Corp., McDonald’s Philippines, Megaworld, Philippine Seven (7-11) Corp., Smart Communications, SM Supermalls, Unilab, Zuellig Pharma, and the Restaurant Owners of the Philippines (RestoPH).

Decades-worth of experience and expertise

As part of the contribution of the private sector, companies like Jollibee and McDonald’s bring in their experience and expertise in areas such as the administration, communications and supply chain of the vaccines. Other companies like ICTSI and Go Negosyo helped with procurement through tripartite agreements and Zuellig and Unilab lent their expertise for distribution.

Companies like SM Supermalls and Megaworld Lifestyle Malls can provide facilities for vaccination clinics, and medical experts from the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases also helped ensure that the campaign’s content is factual and science based. Meanwhile, private healthcare providers Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health), Metro Pacific Hospitals Holdings, Inc. (MPPHI), Mount Grace Hospitals, Inc., St. Luke’s Medical Center, and The Medical City will also help administer the vaccines and open their hospital’s available capacity to the national government and local government units in the National Capital Region Plus area — which includes Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — and in Batangas and Pampanga.

Private healthcare providers will also shoulder the cost of administration, venues, and manpower, while the government will provide the vaccines, medical supplies, and personal protective equipment.

Ms. Torres, who brings years’ worth of experience working for McDonald’s, even pointed out how similar the vaccination rollout was to how fast-food chains operate.

“It might seem overwhelming, but we do it every day. We know it can be done, and we have been able to prove that through our simulation models,” she said in an interview.

Pepot Miñana, Jollibee Foods Corp. Chief Sustainability & Public Affairs officer, added in an interview that companies like Jollibee and McDonald’s have accomplished similar goals as the vaccination program, from generating demand from an audience, managing supply chains, to distributing consumables safely across a wide network.

What it takes to end a crisis

As part of the Ingat Angat Bakuna Lahat campaign, Ms. Torres said that one of their tasks is to dispel the stigma and clear up misinformation surrounding vaccines among the Filipino public. Part of that task is creating ‘vaccine envy’, or drumming up willingness among the public to get fully vaccinated.

It’s the same principles in marketing. You have to go back to the consumer, and that you have to understand the human psyche,” she said.

She recounted the story of how Mandaluyong officials visited senior citizens in their homes to encourage them to get vaccinated. When the seniors found out that they could get their vaccines at SM Megamall, their faces lit up.

“They were like children who haven’t been outside in forever. Sometimes it’s these small insights that matter. Local government workers know this. They tell me about it, and that’s how we come up with plans,” Ms. Torres said.

“Because we’re Filipino, we have this deep-seated belief in God and in each other. There’s always that hope. And there’s always that longing. ‘I want to go back to what I used to love doing with my family. I want to go back to eating out and going to church, get the children back in school’.”

Mr. Miñana believes that the close collaboration between companies in the private sector and the government is what will allow the country to reach the critical goal of vaccinating 70 million Filipinos this year in order to achieve herd immunity, or the point when a large portion of Filipinos are already immune to COVID-19.

We’re professionals. We’ve been in our companies for more than a decade. We know our business pretty well. And we know that the only way for our businesses to recover, for the industry to recover, is for the country to recover. And the only way for the country to get up is to put aside all differences and put it all together in service of the greater good,” he said.

“In the next few months, we’re going to see the curve for vaccinations going up. On the same token, I don’t want to sound negative, but we do have to be really careful and not be overconfident. We can’t let our guards down. Many of the leaders in the public sector are fantastic. It’s a great feeling working with them. We just have to keep focus,” he added.

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