Gov’t to probe LGU-linked online selling of jab slots
MANILA, Philippines — Authorities are investigating reports of clandestine online selling of COVID-19 vaccination slots by people who were reported to have connections with local government units (LGUs).
Entrepreneur Nina Dizon Cabrera shared with the Inquirer her exchange with a person offering to sell vaccination slots from San Juan and Mandaluyong local governments.
Each slot’s price depends on the vaccine brand: for the China-made Sinovac, P6,000 to P8,000 for two doses; US-developed Pfizer vaccine and British Swedish AstraZeneca fetch higher at P10,000 to P12,000 per slot.
The fee comes with a vaccination schedule and booklet.
Martin (not his real name) from Las Piñas said his college classmate offered to sell vaccination slots in Mandaluyong.
When he asked if there would be an issue since he is not a resident of that city and not among the priority groups to be vaccinated, his seller answered that it was an “under-the-table” deal, and he could do it because of “privilege.”
Price for two doses of Pfizer is pegged from P12,500 for those he was acquainted with, and up to P15,000 for those he did not know personally.
Vaccine for a fee
Both Cabrera’s and Martin’s sellers claim they were connected to people in their local governments.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only issued emergency use authorization (EUA) to seven COVID-19 vaccines, including the four brands currently being used—Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Sputnik V.
“The granting of the EUA is not a marketing authorization or a Certificate of Product Registration, hence this cannot be used to market the vaccine commercially,” the FDA said.
‘If true, we will file charges’
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) ordered the Philippine National Police to investigate these reports.“We will ask the PNP to investigate and, if true, we will file charges against those responsible,” Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson for the DILG, said in a message.
In a statement on Friday, San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora denied any involvement of the city government’s staff in an alleged vaccine-for-a-fee scheme circulating on social media.
“Whoever is claiming to have a contact within the San Juan City LGU selling our vaccine slots is propagating a scam, which members of the San Juan City Vaccination Team is not part of,” Zamora said.
“This is a scam to defraud people of money for something that the government is offering for free to its citizens,” he said.
The mayor said the city uses an online system, in which citizens who want to be inoculated can register, and only those who have registered have been queued.
“We have reached out to the individual who posted this so we can take necessary actions against this person claiming to have access to our vaccination program for a fee,” Zamora said.
Mandaluyong Mayor Carmelita Abalos on Friday urged individuals who know anything about this alleged scheme to inform the city government.
“All the vaccines against COVID-19 that are administered to residents and nonresidents who are working in Mandaluyong are free,” she said.
“Register on Mandavaxx, it will come at no cost,” she added.
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