Private sector, LGUs can buy COVID-19 booster shots under vax law – legislators
MANILA, Philippines — Private sector and local government units (LGUs) are allowed to purchase coronavirus vaccines as booster shots based on a recently approved law, Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act, according to two lawmakers on Wednesday.
Senator Nancy Binay and Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin said no special law is needed to allow the private sector and LGUs to buy COVID-19 booster shots as it is already covered under the law.
“I think ‘yung booster, baka pwede na siyang ma-cover nung pinasa namin na Vaccination Act. I think pasok na doon ‘yung booster shots as part of the vaccination program,” Binay said in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum when asked if a law is required to authorize the private sector and LGUs to procure coronavirus booster jabs.
For her part, Garin said the government should already consider various options to further stem the spread of COVID-19, especially when there are already records of breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated individuals.
She noted that other countries such as the United States are already taking the direction of administering booster shots, as vaccine manufacturers recognize that the protection their COVID-19 vaccines initially gives eventually wanes.
Garin added that the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) full authorization to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be used as a basis of the Philippines’ FDA to allow the private sector and LGUs access to booster doses.
“The Department of Health (DOH) can serve as the consolidator,” she explained.
Under RA 11525, the private sector can purchase vaccines in cooperation with the DOH and the National Task Force against COVID-19.
Based on the law, vaccines bought by private entities shall be for their exclusive use and shall follow the priority hierarchy (healthcare workers, senior citizens, economic frontliners, and essential personnel) in its administration.
“I would understand the private sector’s need for booster shots. In their workplaces, even if everyone had been vaccinated, if one becomes positive, the infection will spread and the work will stop, so it is killing them, especially the small companies. This is why they need to buy vaccines for booster shots,” Garin pointed out.
But the World Health Organization has been calling for a moratorium on giving COVID-19 booster shots until the end of 2021, saying millions of people across the world are yet to receive even a single dose.
Garin, however, said the Philippine government should not be swayed by the WHO’s guidance on booster shots since the organization has “other interests.”
“We are a small country. This is survival mode and the responsibility of our government is not to the WHO but to our people,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier sought to look into the pending requests of 42 LGUs and around 300 private companies to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
The Philippine government has not decided yet about the administration of COVID-19 booster shots to the population but the country’s vaccine experts panel has recommended that booster doses be given to health workers and immunocompromised individuals in order to provide them extra protection against COVID-19, especially with the emergence of more contagious coronavirus variants such as Delta.
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