At a time when COVID-19 remains a threat to families, livelihoods, and the economy, vaccination remains a key solution to better protect Filipinos against developing severe cases of the virus.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, Victory Liner, Inc. (VLI) one of the country’s largest provincial bus companies, entered into a tripartite agreement with the government as well as with non-stock, non-profit advocacy organization Go Negosyo, in order to boost efforts on vaccination.
“We protect our employees, and in this way, we protect our customers,” said Marivic del Pilar, Victory Liner’s President and General Manager. This objective rings true with the transport company’s mission of “We move people better, safer.”
VLI will provide vaccines for free for all eligible among its 2,800 employees, from its conductors, drivers, field personnel, mechanics, to its office workers. Employees are free to decide whether they would like to receive the vaccine or not.
Looking forward to a safer tomorrow
Many of VLI’s employees have expressed their openness to receiving jabs as they think this will be a means to keep themselves, their families, co-workers, and passengers safe.
53-year-old Conrado Magtoto has been a bus driver with VLI for 12 years, and is typically on the road between six to seven hours a day. With VLI’s vaccination drive, he believes it will help his body better combat coronavirus, and collectively, can help create a semblance of normalcy.
“Kailangan po kasi ito ng ating katawan. Panlaban sa sakit para bumalik na sa normal,” he says. (“Our body needs it. It will protect us from getting sick so our lives can go back to normal.”)
39-year-old Dewardly Diaz, on the other hand, who has been working as one of VLI’s bus drivers for six years already, regularly drives the Cubao to Baguio route. He trusts that the available vaccine made possible by VLI’s tripartite agreement will provide him and his family the protection he needs.
“Ang pagpapabakuna po ay mahalaga lalo na sa ating pamilya para ‘pag nahawaan ako, may proteksyon ako sa COVID-19,” says Dewardly. (“Getting vaccinated is important especially for our family so that if I were to get infected, I would have protection against COVID-19.”)
Conrado and Dewardly are just two among VLI’s thousands of employees who are open to getting vaccinated in the hopes of being better prepared to face the danger of the virus they may face in every trip.
Vaccination education in a time of reluctance
While a considerable number of VLI’s drivers, conductors, and other employees are looking forward to their jabs, there are still other workers who have expressed their indecision.
32-year-old bus driver Joel Dumanhug, for instance, who drives the Cubao to Tarlac or San Fernando route, says he is still thinking about getting vaccinated.
“Hindi pa po ako sigurado, inaaral ko pa po maigi” he says, when asked what he think the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines are. (“I am not yet sure.”)
At a time when vaccination plays a pivotal role in decreasing the chances of being afflicted with serious cases of COVID, VLI recognizes the importance of providing sufficient information to its employees, which they can use to guide their decision of getting jabs or not.
As a show of their dedication to their workers, VLI released an internal video which addresses the most frequently asked questions about the vaccination drive, such as how will it be done, is the vaccination free, is it transferrable, who are eligible for it, and why it is important, among others. Through such initiatives, VLI hopes to strengthen the readiness of its employees to take part in the company’s inoculation efforts.
“Part of our objective is to increase the vaccination confidence of our bus crew and employees which will ultimately contribute to the safer travel of our commuters,” said del Pilar.
Helping the country get back on its feet
VLI takes safety and sanitation very seriously. Apart from its inoculation drive, offices are disinfected daily before working hours, while buses and terminals are sanitized before and after trips. Employees observe mandatory health protocols as prescribed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
VLI’s goal of vaccinating its employees is only a part of the Philippines’ bigger solution to thwart the further risk brought about by the virus. At a time when inoculation can help protect both the vulnerable and healthy, it can be considered a step towards building a foundation for the country’s safer “new normal.”
When more Filipino workers can go about their day with less fear and better peace of mind for themselves and their families, the hope is that more businesses will be able to thrive and flourish, thereby creating more jobs and more income opportunities for millions.
A fully vaccinated workforce may be a simple step for the country, but with the combined efforts of companies partnering with the government and GoNegosyo, it can effect significant change. Through its vaccination efforts, VLI aims to help contribute to the country’s recovery amid the pandemic.
“Hopefully this will help open up economy, mobility and tourism,” del Pilar shares.