Cebu City mayor says choice integral in vaccine program because ‘these are people’s money’
CEBU CITY—In this city, residents will have a choice of which coronavirus vaccine brand they wanted to be administered to them, a sharp contrast to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s recent statement that Filipinos should not be choosy when it comes to vaccines.
At a press conference on Wednesday (June 13), Mayor Edgardo Labella said residents of the city would be given different vaccines to choose from.
He said he had created a “vaccine board” to map out the city’s vaccination program.
“I have created this vaccine board to determine who are those willing to, right away, be vaccinated,” Labella said. “Those who would not, we will give them a chance to choose,” he said.
“We will give them the opportunity to choose because after all, these are people’s money, taxpayers money,” the mayor said.
“That is why I do not agree with those who said that we cannot choose. If there is a way that we can choose where you are comfortable, then so be it. They should be given the chance,” said Labella, apparently referring to comments made by Roque without naming the Palace spokesperson.
If people want to choose Pfizer or other vaccines other than those from China, Labella said “we have to bear the delay.”
Labella said the national government has allocated for Cebu City a number of vaccines from Sinovac, a Chinese pharmaceutical company.
But the city government has also allocated P500 million for the purchase of other brands like Pfizer, Astrazeneca and Moderna.
Cebu City’s vaccine board will be composed of health experts, including the City Health Office chief and local experts from the field of epidemiology.
Labella said even Vice Mayor Michael Rama does not want to take the vaccine from China.
The mayor, however, said that he is willing to be vaccinated with Sinovac if these had been approved by the Food and Drugs Administration.
Labella said Galvez told him that the China-made Sinovac will be the first vaccine to be immediately available in the Philippines.
Vaccines from western countries, like those of Pfizer and AstraZeneca, may be available in June or July yet, he said.
Labella said Cebu City is capable of storing Pfizer and other deep-freeze vaccines because of the facilities of F.E. Zuellig located in Mandaue City.
The Zuellig facility, he said, can store the vaccine at -70 degrees Celsius which was near the temperature needed for Pfizer vaccine storage.
Cebu City had already earmarked P500 million for the purchase of the vaccine but no deals have been made by the city government yet compared to other cities in the country which already sealed deals with Aztrazeneca.
Labella said the city government was still waiting for a go-signal from Galvez and the national government on procuring vaccines and administering these to residents.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.