More local governments inclined to purchase vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — More local governments are inclined to make their own purchases of COVID-19 vaccines even as the Department of Health discouraged them from taking this initiative.
Makati Mayor Abby Binay on Monday said the city government had allocated P1 billion to purchase vaccines developed by a number of pharmaceutical companies abroad.
“After everything we’ve lost this year, we will do whatever it takes to protect our residents, employees, and our business community,” she said in a statement.
The city government of Pasig has set aside P300 million, with Mayor Vico Sotto saying in a radio interview he was negotiating with several companies the number of doses the city could procure this year.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said the city hoped to initially acquire 400,000 doses of vaccines from its budget of at least P250 million.
Domagoso also encouraged his constituents to register at www.manilacovid19vaccine.com for their free inoculation. As of Monday, more than 30,000 had already signed up, he said.
Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the city government had allotted P150 million for vaccine purchases.
Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan announced that P125 million had been allocated by the city government for vaccine shots from Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Negotiations with the two companies are ongoing, he said.
Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco said the city government would be funding P20 million to acquire the vaccines, adding that it might still raise the amount, depending on the needs of residents.
Tiangco also cited results of a survey showing that 84.2 percent of respondents among Navotas residents preferred the vaccine produced by Pfizer; 6.10 percent, Moderna; and 0.40 percent, Sinopharm.
Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said the city government approved last November an P82.7-million allocation for vaccine procurement.
San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora said the city government allotted last year P50 million for the purchase of vaccines. An online registration for COVID-19 vaccination has been launched in the city, he said.
“What we need to get [is] a clean and clear database with names, addresses, ages and what part of society they belong to,” Zamora said in an interview.
‘Work with us’
But in an online press briefing on Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said local governments could not procure coronavirus vaccines on their own since only the national government can purchase vaccines to be officially allowed for emergency use.
“These vaccines cannot be given a certificate of product registration because their trials are not yet effectively or technically completed. We are only making an exemption because we have a public health emergency,” she said.
“We urge local governments to work with us because we can pool the funds and the national government can procure (the vaccines) and we can have an effective distribution system,” Vergeire said. “We can assure the local governments that based on the prioritization list, you are included in the list based on the priorities that are officially declared.”
—With reports from Jodee A. Agoncillo, Krixia Subingsubing and Meg Adonis